As "Mommy" to a toddler, I'm not the world's best parent. I'm usually at a loss as to what she wants/needs, but I'm learning as I go, and trying new things every day. I know to give her home-cooked, healthy meals as often as I can, to give her a vitamin, bathe her and brush her teeth, and try not to lose my shit when she won't listen. I also know that a perfectly timed press of the "play" button on my remote will trigger complete and utter concentration in an otherwise unfocused toddler with ADD.
Yes, my TODDLER has ADD. It is possible. She got it from her Dad. And I guess a little bit from me. Anxiety disorders run in my family. She's also OCD like a mo'fo'. I refuse to put her on medication, because I can handle it, but that's beside the point (The point of this being toddlers can be diagnosed with ADD/OCD when it's beyond normal toddler behavior, and I ain't judging your kids!).
When I go to choose a show or movie, whether it's on DirecTV, Netflix, or in the middle of an isle at a store somewhere, I look for certain bullet points, because what she sees matters. The things I tend to check-off my list in my head tend to lean towards:
- Is it something I would want to watch with her?
- Is it teaching her something other than how to be a whiny, entitled brat (My Big Big Friend show, anyone?)?
- Does it have a message other than "buy this new toy that this company just came out with, but will come out with something far cooler in two weeks, so she'll need that, too"?
- Is it educational?
- Is it "clean"?
- Will it drive me insane to listen to?
- Morals check!
- Is it entertaining enough for her to grab onto and really enjoy?
- Will it make her stop yelling at me???
- Will it entertain my husband if I throw it up on the television while he's around?
- If she starts repeating what's in the show, will I hang my head in parenting shame, or be proud of my choices in the multimedia she consumes?
Most parents deal with the same checklist when they're surfing for things that concern their impressionable little munchkins, and if they're anything like me, they're finding it harder and harder to ignore that last bullet up there. I mean, come on, people! This is my CHILD we're talking about. She's not some tool for brand marketing, she's not your personal billboard, and she's damn sure not a product of parents that don't give a shit what she's seeing.
Well, she does really enjoy watching Bones, but that's really just because she's really into the "why" of a situation. That, and she's learning body parts, all while she's asking why getting shot or hitting someone hurts. I don't think there's anything wrong with her asking why people are bad, and why certain things hurt. The more you know, people, the more you know. I know it's not a kid show, but it works for us. She's highly advanced, and that makes me one proud Mama! ::ahem:: Moving on!
I've recently had to cross some shows off my list that really bummed me out. Maisy, for example, is no longer allowed in this house. Seeing the way they choose to portray certain situations left me feeling like I was watching PedoBear make a cartoon. I'm not even kidding, and it's completely pathetic. But! It gets better, y'all, because I replaced it with something way more awesome!
This is a list of kid tested, mom approved shows that I have found easy to welcome into her life, and the reasons behind my, well, reasoning (We'll touch on movies later; much, MUCH later.):
Jane and the Dragon
My kiddo love this show, and so do I. It teaches her how to stand up for herself, no matter what. It shows her that the only thing "expected" of her, is for her to follow her dreams, whatever they may be. It makes her see that people are accountable for their actions, large or small. Also, DRAGONS! ARE! COOL! Y'ALL! The show is built around the premise that a girl, supposed to be training as a "lady-in-waiting", is all "No way brohas, I wanna be a KNIGHT!", and goes for it. She goes after a dragon all by herself, and winds up befriending it instead of slaying it. Adventures ensue, and while there are bumps in the road, they are all lessons learned. It has taught her to appreciate her parents, no matter how "insignificant" our job titles may be, appreciate friendship in all forms, and some pretty stellar sword-play. It gets my approval because it's full of awesomeness. I found it on Qubo, which is hosted by one of the Ion channels in the morning (on DirecTV). I suggest it to everyone with no reservations. Dragons, knights, empowerment for young chicks, what? Yes.
This show was obviously not made for kids her age, but it's so good that the targeted age is easily overlooked in this household. The show is all about her favorite thing: Dinosaurs. It showcases accepting people, whether they're different or not. The show is about teens who turn into dinosaurs because of some primordial ooze accident, and it's pretty much Captain Planet for the new generation. Like Jane and the Dragon, it teaches her to respect everyone, no matter who they are, and to be accountable for her actions. It's focused on helping people and cleaning up the environment. It's geared towards the 7-11 range in my opinion, but it works great for her, and I don't mind watching it between work and household duties. We found it on Netflix.
My Friend Rabbit
My daughter has learned so much from this show, another that I found on Qubo, that I wonder why it isn't easier to find. It has taught her so much about friendship and compromise. She learns all about what animals do in the wild (like bears and their hibernation patterns), how friend's help and understand each other, and how to solve conflict by using her words and not her emotions. I love that it's simple and easily followed, but no so completely dumbed-down that she loses interest and moves onto building "house birds" out of blankets and blocks. Also, it's not Angelina Ballerina. That's a huge thumbs-up in its direction. Hop Thinking > Angelina any day in this house!
If I had the talent to draw and animate, I got a wild-hair up my ass to make a cartoon that suited my family's needs one day, and I was from Canada, this would be the show I would create. Not only is she completely obsessed with this show, my entire family, right down to my fifty year-old Mom, is. It's fun, quirky, different, and completely relevant, no matter your age. It teaches my toddler everything I could ask it to and more. She appreciates music in every situation, singing as she plays and does her chores.. and bathes, brushes her teeth, etc. She doesn't sweat the small stuff, and tends to grasp the bigger picture, more than any other toddler she's been around. She loves when she meets someone that's a little different from your typical person, and welcomes them into her life with open arms. She also really wants a Venus Flytrap for her birthday, and cannot wait to see the Toggleworm trees bloom and the worms show up. I've even been begged to read Poe to her, and that's like, the coolest thing in the history of forever. Bam! Find this (sadly short-lived) Canadian masterpiece on Netflix. You'll never have to wonder what to watch again.
Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater
This show has apparently been around since 1987, which is the year I was born. Had I ever watched until a few months ago? Nope. Do I curse my misspent youth daily for missing out on its awesome qualities? Sure do! It's a well-written remake of classic stories, works of fiction, and movies, all done with Hello Kitty characters. From "KT -- The Kitty Terrestrial" to "Crocodile Penguin", "Cinderkitty" to "Catula", everyone is entertained, without being scared or forced to watch a movie out of their age range. She sits, with rapt attention, glued to the television, in glorious "Mommy can finally get a little work done" silence, for the entire episode. I used to joke that Spongebob was crack for kids; I digress. Find it on Netflix, or the interwebz, whichever works best for you.
These are some of our favorite shows, and there isn't a sign or a sigh of Dora the Explorer anywhere to be found. In the famous words of Madea: Hallelujer!