Cartoons: The Frenemy of All Parents

Thank you cartoons for being the one thing that all parents can bitch about together.
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I sit down across from my husband eagerly anticipating our “adult” time. No, I’m not talking about sexy time, I’m talking about the 15 minutes of sweet silence that occurs after both kids are fed dinner but before we start the grueling tasks of bath and bedtime.

They are planted squarely in front of the TV, contently watching cartoons. With them both in the zone, I take advantage of the moment to reconnect with my husband.

“Babe, why doesn’t the PAW Patrol just let the sea captain die out there? He has no business being on a boat, yet they keep risking their lives to save him like he’s worth it.”

Yup, cartoons are a common topic of conversation in our house. And it seems like we aren’t alone. I’ve had similar exchanges with co-workers and friends bemoaning the cartoons our kids get attached to.

It seems to be a universal truth for most parents with young kids. The best part is it’s a topic that may finally unite us in a way that most parenting topics can’t.

God forbid co-sleeping, breastfeeding or organic foods come up in conversation. And don’t you dare utter the word juice or risk being ostracized. But cartoons seem to be one topic all parents can commiserate with each other about.

Most of the time we complain about the shows we despise and share our desperate pleas for them to be canceled (including reruns!).

And yes, criticizing a kids show may seem a little over the top, but as the supervising adult who will be tuning in to said show way more often than I’d like gives me the right to weigh in.

I am asking for so little. Just a 20-minute block of time that doesn’t drive parents to drinking more than usual.

Here’s a helpful tip for any cartoon creators out there: if you want my kid to keep watching your show (which will then lead to merchandise purchases, app downloads, i.e., revenue) then make it generally palatable for an adult. Because the adult controls the remote (and the credit card).

This includes, but is not limited to, eliminating asshole main characters that I’m afraid my kid will pick up bad habits from. I’m looking at you Caillou, you whiny little s**t. Stop being an asshat.

And Peppa Pig, you are a close second. If I want my kids to watch bad behavior, I would just record them being unruly jerks in the grocery store and play it on a loop.

I’ve learned how to sneak past these listings before my kids can even recognize the logo on the TV. Even if they catch a snippet before I race past the channel, I will flat-out lie and say it’s over. I guess that tactic ends when they learn to read (note to self: delay reading achievements for as long as possible).

Often times I catch myself undoing some of the “valuable” character building moments these shows are so proud of. I have, on occasion, said to my kids something along the lines of, “Just so you know, if you cheat like Crusher (Blaze and the Monster Machines), you won’t be saved from your own mess by the person you just screwed over in the first place. So just don’t cheat to begin with, k?”

That’s me, a shining beacon of real-world advice that my 4-year-old can put in to action.

And then we have just general plot issues. For me, the more ridiculous and outlandish the plot the better. It gives me room to imagine the backstory of these characters and how they came to be.

For example, does Ryder from PAW Patrol have parents? Or a home to go to? Or does he live in the Lookout Tower? Why hasn’t Adventure Bay asked for a recount on Mayor Goodway since she clearly has no grasp on running her own community? And no one is concerned for Ryder’s mental health knowing the weight of the community’s well-being is on his shoulders? All deep thoughts I ponder (yeah, I lead an exciting life at the moment).

So, thank you cartoons for being the one thing that all parents can bitch about together. And more importantly, thank you for entertaining my children so I can have 15 minutes to talk to my husband alone. It may not be the most romantic of topics, but these days any uninterrupted conversation is sexy as hell.

Andrea Rhoades is the creator of Selfies to Selfless, a parenting blog for Millennials. She is passionate about exploring the unique challenges the newest generation of parents face. Follow her as she reveals the hopes and dreams, fears and failures of Millennial parents. Follow Selfies to Selfless on Facebook and Twitter!