Changing Track: Climbing Out of the Abyss of Daytime TV

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I’d always said that my child would not sit for hours in front of the TV. Nope, not my child. My child would NOT be a couch potato! No sir! I would read to my child. Do crafts with my child. Go to activities with my child. Play outside with my child. But…though I did all these things and more with my child, there were still A LOT of hours in the day when my child was awake and needing to be entertained. What was a mom to do? I was powerless against the force of the TV!

That first year my baby and I would wake at 7ish as my husband was leaving for work. I would change her, give her a bottle, feed her breakfast, play with her, read to her, and then when she was happily playing with her toys, I would turn on morning TV and slurp tepid cup of coffee I had brewed hours before.

I became a champion morning TV watcher. It was awfully lonely just me and an infant. The house was so silent. TV filled the silence. I watched GMA, then Live With Regis and Kathy Lee, and then the George and Alana Show. You might ask who are George and Alana? George is George Hamilton…the guy with the perpetual tan. Was he famous for anything else? Hmmmm… Alana was Alana Stewart who I think was only famous for being married to Rod Stewart….and George Hamilton. I’d forgotten that Alana was once married to George, too…had to check Wikipedia for the deets. Their show was lackluster, C-list celebrities, and a poor imitation of Live With Regis and Kathy Lee. You see what I mean about becoming a morning TV devotee? I was a goner. I was sucked in to morning TV hook, line, and sinker.

Case in point… I watched my SECOND Live With Regis and Kathy Lee Valentine’s Day Wedding Special when my daughter had just turned one. The show was basically the same as the previous years show…except the couple getting married was different. Same set. Same schtick. I needed help…STAT. I was falling at break-neck speed in to the abyss of daytime TV watching. What was next? Afternoon soap operas? I had to save myself from this fate. I needed to do something. It would be a few years before Intervention would debut on A&E. I’m not even sure A&E was around in the mid-90s when I was home with a baby. Intervention’s interventionists Candy Finnigan and Ken Seeley weren’t on TV yet…I know that. And even if they were Intervention was a nighttime show. I had to go it alone. I staged an “intervention”…on myself.

As luck would have it a good friend told me of a show her “couple of months older than mine” baby was starting to watch. That show was Blue’s Clues. The next morning I switched the channel from morning TV and to PBS and to Nickelodeon and never looked back. There was a catch. My “addiction” to TV turned in to my daughter’s obsession with TV. For the year I watched GMA, Regis, and George and Alana, she was largely oblivious to the TV. Never paid any attention. Once we were watching PBS and Nickelodeon every morning she would be riveted…not every show…but definitely Blue’s Clues and Sesame Street. Some of the shows were a bit old for her at 1 years old…Reading Rainbow is one show that comes to mind…I watched Reading Rainbow but she was not interested until she was closer to 3 or 4.

Moms of teens…did your kids watch any of these PBS shows?

  • The Puzzle Place — I have the vaguest of recollections that this show is about bunch of kids who lived in a house…but that’s it. Ha! It’s only available on amazon on VHS!
  • The Big Comfy Couch — “With Loonette and Molly, a girl and her dolly, on the Big Comfy Couch!” I liked that Loonette learned so much from her Granny Garbanzo, but Major Bedhead was just weird. Why was he hanging around Loonette’s caravan? Remember Snicklefritz the Cat and Fuzzy and Wuzzy the Dust bunnies and the funny Foley Family who lived in the Loonette’s doll house?
  • Dragon Tales — A few weeks ago my older kids, recited the names of the dragons…Zach and Wheezie, the conjoined ones…Ord, the always-feeling-left-out one…Quetzal, the wise one…Cassie, the whiny one…and the kids…Emmy and Max
  • The Kidsongs Television Show — An annoying show with annoying kid singers singing annoying kid songs.
  • The Magic School Bus
  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — Got a yellow school bus obsessed kid? Check out Mister Rogers’ Going To School DVD with yellow school bus!
  • Reading Rainbow — A personal favorite of mine. I’m one of those people who liked LeVar Burton for his work on Reading Rainbow more than SDtar Trek. Shhh…don’t tell my husband and Star Trek-obsessed kids!
  • Teletubbies — Why did the Teletubbies live underground? Why weren’t they scared that the Noo Noo would vacuum them? These questions and more were running through my head as my daughter sat transfixed watching.
  • Wimzie’s House — Uh…what was this show about? Who was Wimzie? I have no clue.

What about these Nickelodeon shows?

  • Blue’s Clues — Steve lives with his puppy, Blue in a yellow house. LOVED that Blue was a girl puppy. They lived with the Thinking Chair, Sidetable Drawer, Mailbox, Shovel and Pail, Slippery Soap, and Tickety Tock. And who could forget adorable Paprika and her mom and dad, Mrs. Pepper and Mr. Salt, and I think Baby Cinnamon was more towards the end of the show. Towards the end of our family’s run of watching Blue’s Clues…all three children loved the show…Steve left for college and his brother, Joe, moved in. Joe tried hard but Joe was no Steve…so we stopped watching. 
  • Dora the Explorer — Should I take the bridge or the tunnel? What was more uncomfortable…Answering Dora’s question even if your child was not in the room with you or not answering her question. I always answered as Dora looked like she would be disappointed if I did not!
  • Max & Ruby — Where were there parents ever at home? Why were they allowed to roam about the town?
  • Gullah Gullah Island — We watched as a stop gap to get to the show we…uh…my daughter wanted to watch. I don’t remember much about it as my kids were more interested in cartoons.
  • Little Bill — Sweet show. As a watcher of The Cosby Show, I liked that there was a strong message in each Little Bill show of being a good friend or listening to adults.
  • Little Bear — The mom was so calm with Little Bear’s antics and I was so not-calm with my own children. I definitely picked up some pointers from Mother Bear. Father Bear was a non factor as he was always off fishing even while wearing a three-piece suit and tie…I think he wore wading boots, but still that was odd.
  • Franklin and Kipper — These two shows blend for me…both about an animal with animal friends going on adventures. The show was unremarkable but my children and I loved the Kipper books and Franklin stories.
  • Bob the Builder — My middle child liked Bob and Wendy and Pilchard the Cat and Scoop and Muck and Dizzy but my youngest child LOVED this show.

There’s something about kids’ show and specifically the music from kids’s shows that stays with you long after the show is over. I still hum “We just got a letter!’ any time I get the mail or mail a letter! My husband will ask the girls if they need any “handy dandy notebooks” for school supplies. BC was the first show that I could sit through and not get frustrated by the dialogue or the actors talking down to the kids.

Like this post on Blue’s Clues? Here’s a couple of more posts about kids and…

Thanks to Wikipedia for filling in the gaps in my memory on characters on shows and plot!

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