We Watch More Spongebob Before 9 a.m. Than Most People Do in a Lifetime
The first time I ever heard of Spongebob Squarepants was in November 2000 when I was in LA on business. Two of my co-workers and I went holiday shopping at the Universal Studios theme park, and Yvonne bought several Spongebob-themed items for her nephew.
I didn’t yet have children, and I barely gave Spongebob a passing glance. Just another syndicated cartoon character in the midst of his 15 minutes of fame. No staying power.
Fast-forward nearly six years to a scenario I never imagined back then: We’ve got two little girls (huh?), we left New York for Colorado (gasp!), and both kids are certified Spongebob addicts (clunk!).
(That clunk was the sound of my November 2000 self hitting her head on the parquet floor after collapsing in a dead faint.)
For those parents who are mere mortals like Kyle and me, TV is another means of entertaining and educating our children. We read to them, we play pretend with them, we take them to parks and to museums and to festivals, we chase each other around the house until we all need naps. And we watch TV and snuggle together too.
It’s not easy to find children’s shows that hold their attention but don’t grate on our nerves. Some shows are so high on that annoyance scale that they’re completely off-limits in our house. For example, we don’t watch Oobi (people’s hands engaging in baby talk), Caillou (whiny little brat who abuses his little sister), or Barney (no explanation necessary).
We’ve seen the rise and fall of the Wiggles, Dora and Diego, and Max and Ruby. But nothing has held the attention of three of the four members of our household like Spongebob.
Yes, even CJ loves Spongebob. She brings the remote to me and inquires, “Buh-bah?” I take it from her and ask, “Would you like to watch Spongebob?” She beams and nods enthusiastically. I prompt her, “How do you ask?” and she grins and swipes her hand across her chest (the sign for “please”) and hisses, “Peessssss!”
If I forget to fast-forward over the commercials between episodes, she locates the remote again and brings it to me as a reminder. Tacy will patiently sit through commercials unless a Bratz ad comes on, and then she shouts, “Mommy! I’m not supposed to watch this!”
We do what we can to make watching Spongebob a learning experience. Tacy once asked about Mr. Krabs’ shell, which led to a discussion about how some animals – like crabs – have an exoskeleton, and others – like us – have an endoskeleton. She has also asked why the characters wear clothes – aren’t they animals? That question sparked a discussion about personification. Most recently, I commented that one character was eavesdropping on another, and Tacy asked for a definition (and has now started using the term appropriately in context).
It makes me smile when CJ takes my hand and leads me over to the sofa. I sit down and she climbs into my lap, contentedly holding her lambie and a cup of milk while we watch together. Tacy invariably settles next to us, holding her lambie too as she leans against my shoulder. So while there are times that I reach my limit and turn off the TV while announcing, “No more Spongebob! Find something USEFUL to do!” I’m usually happy to take the opportunity to snuggle with my girls and laugh at the adult-themed jokes and answer Tacy’s questions.
I know my November 2000 self still isn’t quite convinced, but she’ll come around.