When my first son was a baby I swore he would not lay eyes on a cartoon until he was at least 4 years old. That was until we discovered DJ Lance Rock and the wonderful world of Yo Gabba Gabba. My son was not quite 12 months old, and I was not quite 9 months pregnant. On a particularly desperate morning I flipped through the channels and landed on the previously forbidden Nick Jr. channel. When that little boy heard the music and saw the mysterious creatures dancing, he was hooked! His tiny little body began to move with the music, and a love for television was born.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of incessant TV watching at any age. However, it does have its benefits, especially for an exhausted mommy. Earlier in life I can remember going to friends’ houses who had children and wondering how they themselves could stand watching these ridiculous cartoons all the time. That brings us to our purpose for today. On more than one occasion I have found myself plopped down in front of the TV completely absorbed in the storyline of one of my kids’ favorite shows, only to discover that I’m the only one still watching. Even upon making this discovery, I generally keep watching long enough to see what’s going to happen! The following are my, personal, favorite Nick Jr. shows.
1. Jack’s Big Music Show: This is my all time favorite, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I love to hear my son talk about it. He doesn’t call it “Jack’s Big Music Show”, because he hasn’t quite mastered the art of pronunciation. Nope, he calls it “Jack’s Baby Hoe”, which is so much cuter. After a particularly good episode a few weeks ago, he turned to me and said, “Momma, I love that hoe!” Well, truth be told, I too love that hoe, and often watch it when I’m alone. The music that is featured on the show is not cheesy Barney & Friends-type melodies. They feature Dr. Stringz (Andrew Bird), as well as the fabulous Laurie Berkner. The music is catchy, it quirky, and it is extremely entertaining.
2. Yo Gabba Gabba: As I mentioned earlier, this was the show that spawned our relationship with Nick Jr. DJ Lance Rock hosts the half hour show featuring a crazy troupe of colorful creatures who go by the names Brobee, Muno, Plex, Foofa, and Toodee. As if this show couldn’t get any more fantastic, also featured is Mark Mothersbaugh… ring a bell? That’s right, the crazy cat from Devo. If that didn’t trigger an automatic “Whip it!” in your mind, you need to take a refresher course on classic 80s music. Now, if this doesn’t sound like the recipe for motherhood entertainment, I don’t know what is!
3. Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends: Now, this show is just sweet. Miss Spider is the mother of all bugs. She loves them in spite of their different diets, web-spinning abilities, or slimy excretions. This was actually the show that prompted me to write this article. As I sat watching it with my boys this morning I realized that I was crying. One of the bugs was searching for her birth mother, and when she couldn’t find her “hatch-day tree”, she gave up. Miss Spider was so sweet and tender, encouraging the searching, but also comforting the tiny bug when it didn’t end as she had hoped. This is just a sweet little show, with a good moral thrown in here and there.
4. Backyardigans: “We’ve got the whole wide world in our yards to explore!” As I typed that I was also singing it really loud. If you’re not in the mood to dance, and you don’t want to cry, then this is the show for you. There’s mystery, suspense, and the occasional near-death experience. In my favorite episode the characters were in Africa (they’re actually in their backyards, but they’re pretending to be in Africa) and there was a stolen elephant that had to be rescued and returned to its home. Wow, I was really sweatin’ it when the elephant rescuers had to raise to stop the thieves, and jump on the airplane just as it was taking off with elephant in-tow. What a relief when they revealed their elephant-sized parachute which they attached to the friendly beast, and all were able to jump to safety, landing conveniently in front of the rightful owners. Phew, that was close!
5. Fresh Beat Band: Although he would never admit it, my husband is a die-hard Fresh Beat Band fan. He knows the songs, and the dances. These are four very talented 20-somethings, who sing and dance and solve all of the world’s problems (such as a mango shortage at the smoothie stand!) The songs are extremely cheesy, as are the characters and the plots, but somehow it still manages to entertain adults and children alike. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not animated that makes it a little more enjoyable for the over 12 crowd, or that the cast is genuinely talented. Either way, it’s made it onto my top 5, which has to count for something, right?.
I won’t go so far as to tell you my 5 least favorite, but I assure you I have them. One thing that has held true for me, is that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, watching TV or playing in the dirt, if you’re engaging in it with your child it’s sure to be enjoyable for both of you. Rarely do my kids sit like zombies in front of the TV. More often than not I’m right there with them, laughing, crying, or dancing along. My motto for child raising is if you enjoy them while they’re in diapers, they’ll still love you when you’re in diapers!