Monday, March 25, 2013

Repost: Abby Cadabby makes me stabby: Reflections on kiddie TV

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Nov. 17, 2010

Sometime within the past three months, my daughter decided that she hates any and all personal grooming her parents try to force upon her.

Bathtime? She screams bloody murder. Diaper changes? That's when she first used the word 'no.' Hairstyling? A daily battle.

Then we discovered the magic of Sesame Street. My husband and I felt guilty at first, because we'd agreed the TV wouldn't be on while she was in the room until she was a bit older. However, who can argue with success? A few days later, it was routine: We call up Sesame Street on the DVR and within minutes successfully comb/brush/braid her hair.

Most of the characters are OK. Bert and Ernie are still around, and sometimes you'll catch Big Bird, the Count and Snuffy. I like Rosita and Telly. We finally got to figure out what Elmo's all about (the Elmo Slide is the hot dance craze in my house) and I'm kind of fond of Murray and his little lamb, Ovejita.

But man, do I ever dislike that Abby Cadabby. If you're not familiar with her, she's a fairy character training to perform magic. My irrational hate for her has grown to the point that I have to resist the urge to curse when her silly freckled face appears on my screen. "Abby's Flying Fairy School," her segment on Sesame Street, has her off-putting sidekicks and is invariably annoying. Her voice makes me want to throw things. In theory, I should really like it when she implores young viewers to "twinkle think" with her to solve the problem of the day, but the phrase actually makes me want to go on a killing spree.

I've tried other shows, but I don't get the same calmness-during-hairstyling unless it's Sesame Street, which means I have to be exposed to Abby. My daughter won't sit for DVRed episodes of Little Bill (which I love because the late artist Varnette Honeywood, one of my favorites, was responsible for the show's look). I've tried Ni Hao Kai Lan, which I find oddly amusing, but that doesn't work either. It has to be Sesame Street.

I know it could be and probably will get much, much worse. Since we limit her TV exposure to just Sesame Street for the amount of time it takes to do her hair, we've yet to introduce her to shows such as Yo Gabba Gabba or The Fresh Beat Band.

We'll be holding off on those as long as possible. For our sakes, not hers.

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