Friday, June 5, 2009

People vs. The Wiggles

I can't believe it's come to this, but it's time for me to put on my attorney's hat and step up with my defense of The Wiggles...

You see, I've noticed lately that when I mention Monkey's extreme love of (or, dare I say, obsession with?) The Wiggles, I get reactions ranging from sympathy to almost disgust. "Oh, you poor thing..." "The Wiggles? They're awful!" "Thank goodness our kids don't like them" "We won't allow them in our house"


I can understand the sympathy. Any parent who's had a child obsessed with a particular TV show, movie, or character knows how mind-numbing it can get to watch the same things over and over and over again - the endless fascination gene must spontaneously combust somewhere between the ages of 5 and 10.

But what I don't get is the hate. When I've pushed a little farther, here's some of the comments I get, followed by my rebuttals:

1. "They're gay." Really? THAT's your argument? I hope you don't mind if I don't even dignify this one with a response, because it's clearly an argument crafted by a 12-year old, and it's not fair to pick fights with children.

2. "They're grown men - it's just creepy." Yes, they are grown men - does that automatically make them pedophiles or something?? In fact, a little quick research will reveal that The Wiggles were formed when several of its members met in school, where they were studying to be elementary teachers - The Wiggles act in its earliest stages was a school project, attempting to integrate learning with song and dance. How dare they!! And speaking of creepy, I am extremely thankful that Monkey has never seen, and thus never developed any kind of attachment to the Teletubbies or the Doodlebops - if you ask me, those are the kinds of characters that nightmares are made of!

3. "Their songs are so annoying - fruit salad, yummy, yummy." Setting aside my original point that anything can becmoe annoying in high doses, is their music really that bad? I don't think so. In fact, I'm amazed at the sheer volume of songs these guys have managed to put out, with the not unexpected outcome that some stuff is better than others. But the variety is sure nice - I'd rather listed to an entire Wiggles CD than have to fast-forward through our Sesame Street to find the three Elmo songs that Monkey is currently interested in, and then repeat those same three songs when Monkey insists on "more Elmo" and refuses to listen to more than three notes of a song by Big Bird, Grover, or Kermit the Frog. Sigh... And really, what alternatives are you advocating? Barney, with his annoying "I love you" song? I'll pass, thanks.

4. "There's nothing educational about them." Well, I'll give you that it's not Sesame Street, with it's emphasis on counting and the alphabet, but Monkey has learned a TON from watching The Wiggles, if you ask me. For starters, colors - Monkey could identify The Wiggles by their shirt color long before he knew their individual name (and frankly, yellow is still providing a small amount of confusion, given the Greg/Sam switch, which is unfortunate). But let's also not under-estimate the value of the dances - MOnkey has gone from merely watching the DVDs, to standing up and kind of bouncing and swaying along, to actively copying the dance moves. He jumps, waves his hands in the air, turns in circles, makes animal sounds, pretends to rock his bear to sleep, says "shhhh"... all relatively on cue with the songs and dances that he's watching - it's so much fun to watch, and he's learning to follow directions, develop his fine and gross motor skills, and I bet eventually he'll even sing! (Although the latter part does scare me a wee bit, if you've ever heard his father sing...) He may not be speaking another language, but he is very involved in the videos, identifying objects and characters and participating as if he were right there - pretty cool, IMO.

Ironically, Monkey's unwavering devotion to The Wiggles appears to be, well, wavering just a bit in the past couple of weeks, with Elmo providing some strong competition of late. Of course this would happen just weeks after I bought Monkey tickets to a live Wiggles show, right? Let's hope that he doesn't lose interest in them altogether any time too soon - the concert's not until the end of August, and Daddy and I certainly don't want to be the only ones in our family singing along! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Random Thoughts

I think that part of my lack of blogging lately is a lack of light bulbs going off in my head with big ideas of what to write about. Monkey is making lots of strides in his development, but we're kind of past the "big" milestones for now, and some of the smaller stuff doesn't seem to generate the same level of excitement to justify posting. But, since I hope to have Monkey someday look back on this blog to read about his early years, I think I'll attempt to play catch-up a bit and just share some random thoughts. Here's what's been going on at the Monkey House:

1. Food, Glorious Food -- The good news is that Monkey's menu of acceptable foods seems to be expanding ever so slightly! Vegetables are STILL, and I suspect will always be, a challenge, but Monkey has discovered corn on the cob, and he eats it with gusto! So much fun to watch! And, with the arrival of spring/summer, Monkey has become a bigger fruit fan, so instead of applesauce day in and day out, he has been feasting on yummy blueberries and strawberries. I thought I had him on pineapple as well, but that lasted all of about a day. Oh, and grapes, which already has me looking forward to the day when I don't have to cut them up for him to avoid a possible choking hazard...

2. All Choked Up -- Speaking of choking, please tell me I don't have the only toddler who insists on shoveling multiple fistfuls of whatever he's eating into his mouth?? It's not so much a manners thing, although, geez, slowing down a tad would sure be nice, but I swear he swallows half of his food whole, despite a mouthful of teeth. He's gagged more than once, giving my husband and I quite a scare, but I actually think he may just be one of those kids with a relatively sensitive gag reflex, as it's been triggered by things as little as a small, possibly sharp piece of potato chip. I struggle with being the mom who cuts and breaks up her kid's food until he's ten, and trying to teach him to take bites, at the risk that he just won't do it, or will take twenty small "bites" in rapid succession, defeating the purpose. :-(

3. Chug, Chug -- And also on the subject of food, I was told by Monkey's day care teacher a couple of weeks ago that one of the changes that will take place when he moves to the two-year-old's room (in less than two months - gasp!) is that they will start drinking from open cups instead of sippies. Am I the only one that thinks this sounds a bit soon, and, um, messy? Again, I don't want Monkey to be drinking from a sippy when he goes to the prom, but man am I not looking forward to the idea of him drinking from an open cup on a regular basis yet either! I've let him sip from my cup from time to time, and although he gets the basic idea, he's a bit too eager, and inevitably ends up with water down the front of his shirt. I know that it takes practice, and toddler-hood isn't always neat, but I'm just not sure I'm ready for this one. Maybe I'll let day care take the lead on this one, and I can just benefit from their tried-and-true teaching methods?

4. Potty Time -- Speaking of new challenges, I feel like full-on potty training will be upon us soon, and I am approaching it somewhat tentatively. Don't get me wrong - I can not WAIT to be done with smelly diapers. But something about them IS awfully convenient, you know?? It's not the idea of Monkey being potty trained that I dread (although it will sort of mean he's officially a big boy - sniff!), it's the process... Having to be constantly attuned to his signals, racing to the potty for numerous false alarms, devising and consistently following some kind of reward program, etc. Monkey has handled so many of his other transitions (sleeping through the night, dropping bottles, limiting paci use, etc) so well - I hope this isn't the one that we struggle with!

5. Story Time -- I LOVE that Monkey is finally showing more interest in books. He's still hard pressed to sit still for a story, and I'm sorry to say that we still haven't been able to incorporate a "traditional" bedtime story into our nightly routine, but he seems to be going for books as often as toys these days, and not always the same three or four books, either. Character books are still one of the biggest hits (Wiggles and Elmo, specifically), but he's starting to pay more attention to some of the Dr. Suess books, and I've once again renewed my hopes that someday he will enjoy reading as much as I do, for content rather than pictures! And yes, he actually says "read a book?" now, which I love. :-)

6. Outdoor Adventures -- I can't remember if I posted earlier about our severe cabin fever over the winter months, but needless to say, the arrival of Spring (FINALLY!) has opened new doors to things to do with Monkey. Unfortunately, it has also opened the door to new battles with Monkey's independent streak, and his desire to walk freely without holding hands. As you can imagine, this presents a problem pretty much anywhere other than in our fenced-in backyard. It's been a little hit or miss -- sometimes Monkey not only willingly holds MY hand, but wants to hold Daddy's hand as well, making it difficult for us to walk in and out of stores, etc. I think Monkey secretly hopes when we do this that we'll start randomly swinging him, a trick taught to him by my mother and aunt (thanks, guys!), but I think my husband is afraid of dislocating his shoulder, so we don't often play along. Plus, let's face it, it kind of slow things down a bit when ever five seconds you have to stop and go "one, two, three -- whee!" :-) But other times, Monkey does NOT want to hold hands, and left to his own devices, would appear to be on the verge of running off into a parking lot. Clearly this is non-negotiable, so Monkey has been getting a choice - hold Mommy's hand, or let Mommy carry you. You may not like either choice, but you've gotta pick one. I yearn for the day when he will walk calmly by my side - will it ever happen? I keep contemplating the monkey backpack with the leash, but it seems like more trouble than it's worth, especially when we're just making a quick trip from car to store. But lately, the desire to be "down" doesn't end at the store door, as riding in a shopping cart is apparently no longer the thrill it once used to be (unless said cart is shaped like a car, in which case the difficulty is getting Monkey OUT of it!). Monkey threw a royal fit in Gymboree a few weeks ago when, in a moment of kindness, I let him out of his stroller to sit in the little chairs and watch cartoons at the back of the store. All was well until it was time to leave, and I think I earned a few new bruises, as well as several sympathetic and/or questioning looks, as I struggled to get Monkey back in his stroller. Our evening walks around the neighborhood are also beginning to change, as Monkey is no longer content for up to an hour in his stroller as we walk around, visiting with neighbors, getting some exercise. Monkey wants to be "out" or "down" before long, adding a new level of parental anxiety to the whole process. And don't get me started on his "car rides" - Monkey has a cool radio flyer car that he used to love being pushed around the neighborhood in. These days, however, it's about two minutes before he wants to get out, walk, push the car himself. Nothing like pushing an empty car back to your house while carrying a struggling toddler, let me tell you...

Well, I think that's the end of my train of thought for now. Hopefully I'll be able to return to more regular, less rambling posting soon!