Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sponge Bob Lament

I thought I was safe from Sponge Bob. I'd heard his name mentioned around the blog world of course, but as the addiction of toddlers and young children. Now mine are all at school I wasn't anticipating his name being uttered in our house….ad infinitum.

As first time parents we started off with high ideals around TV watching. We knew we didn't want our baby to have a square box as a baby-sitter, it was damaging to their development, their creativity suffered…we'd read it all and knew we could bring up our child without it. Until our son was about 18 months that is. He started waking up every morning at 5.30. Wide awake, ready to go. We'd take it in turns to sit on the sofa and read him stories while the other caught got a bit more sleep till a more civilised hour. In self-defence, my husband discovered that Sesame Street was on at 6am on BBC2, which meant that after half an hour of stories he could doze off on the sofa, next to an avid toddler, who was quite happy for the next hour.

The rot set in. Soon we'd acquired a Thomas the Tank Engine video set - two tapes that played in succession, filling our early mornings with the repetitive theme tune every ten minutes. Our daughter was born to its sound track, as he was kept busy upstairs with watching it, while she emerged into the world.

A routine evolved of watching first thing in the morning and then a little at bed-time, before stories and tucking up. We kept to our resolution of no TV during the rest of the day, the only exception being if a child was sick, when they could be lulled into a coma by watching the flickering screen. Gradually Thomas collected friends from the Disney collection, one by one we built up a library of classics, that salved our conscience by keeping our children to the quality end of TV watching. Tom and Jerry managed to join the throng, but otherwise cartoons were kept at arms length.

For years the only TV channel the kids knew was Animal Planet. The choice was Animal Planet or a video. They recently extended their viewing to some grown up movies - The Sound of Music, Dreamer, Princess Bride. We could sit down and watch with them and enjoy most of the things ourselves.

Until now.

We returned from our trip to England to find that treacherous DSTV, our satellite Tv provider, had shifted all the channels around. Now right next to Animal Planet was a selection of cartoon channels. It took the kids no time to figure this out, and now they know all there is to know about the mating habits of the warthog, all they want to watch is Scooby Doo… and Sponge Bob SquarePants! Scooby Doo I can cope with. It takes me back to my childhood, when it used to terrify me. My kids just sit and giggle hysterically at it. But Sponge Bob Square Pants? Maybe if I took time to get to know him I'd find out what they see in him, but do I want to? I'm hoping he'll be a flash in the pan fling, a novelty with no substance that will wear off so that they will return to their old love Animal Planet, but I'm not holding my breath!

If you have found deep meaning and a lovely soul in poor old Sponge Bob, please let me know and I will try to find some consolation for the fluff that I'm letting my kids fill their heads with!


  1. well, no consolation to offer here, julia goes apes over spongebob regularly, luckily we have no cable/satellite and she doesn't know they come on dvd's yet!

  2. LOL - my brother & wife also started out with the "no TV" stance and gradually slipped. I think in the end it's almost impossible to enforce, because if you have no TV at home, the kid's just going to go to friends' houses and get square eyes there! I don know that my brother had drawn the line at the Cartoon Network - it's forbidden in his house. My eldest nephew grew up on a diet of The Lion King and Scooby Doo, and the best toy I ever brought him was a warthog (aka Pumbaa) fluffy hand puppet.

    Sorry - no idea what to say about Spongebob...

  3. I know the pain of spongebob and his crew all too well...and the cartoon network insanity. We discontinued our satellite tv this summer. After a week of withdrawl pangs ( for me it was green planet channel and American movie channel) our anxiety/stress levels are surprisingly lower. I must confess, there are times I feel cut off from civilization without tv. Good luck with spongebob, I know some ADULTS who are hooked on him! scarey...


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