First off, I have to say that yes, our kids watch TV. Gasp!
Judge me if you will, but when the little man wakes up at 5:30am, sometimes it’s the best thing in the world to turn on the giant lightbox and bring to life the wonderful worlds of Netflix or Treehouse.
We’ve got a pretty steady rotation of Dora, Diego, Max and Ruby, and then the character in question today – Caillou.
At first glance, Caillou is awesome. He’s a big brother to a little sister, he does all the activities our little man does, he’s potty trained (I wish), and their family situations seem pretty realistic. TOO realistic. Therein lies the problem.
We worry about all the bad words and concepts the little man might pick up at preschool, but we always thought young children’s programming was fairly innocuous.
Then “Grumpy Caillou” came to our house. One day our little man crossed his arms and came out with a full on pout, refusing to eat his dinner. We couldn’t figure out where he’d learned this, as it’s summer vacation and none of the kids we’ve played with in the last few months do this. A few days later we were watching Caillou and lo and behold, Caillou does the exact same thing. We started calling our little man “Grumpy Caillou” every time it happened, and joking about it until he gave up the pout and agreed to whatever we were asking.
Grumpy Caillou eventually went away and life went on. We’ve been trying pretty hard to clean up our language over the last year or so – not that we’re potty mouths, but there are definitely certain expressions we’ve needed to curb. The little man has tried out a few of them and we’ve learned very quickly just what a sponge he is.
Then he started experimenting with the word HATE. Now, we may use that word now and then, but it’s not really a regular visitor to our home. I do know that he’d picked it up from my mum one day while playing at her house, because I heard her say it about a show they were watching, and he repeated it immediately. He adores his “Nang Nang” and picks up a lot of her language – mostly safe and British-themed. She’s under strict instructions now to clean up her act, which is hilarious because she’s a very well spoken, polite, lovely lady.
We explained to the little man that hate isn’t a nice word, and gently tried to discourage its use. Then Mr. Awesome was watching Caillou with the kids and wouldn’t you know – Caillou says it ALL. THE. TIME. It’s hard enough to explain that his Nang Nang shouldn’t be saying it, but when his favourite TV show is seemingly endorsing it as well it feels like we’re getting outnumbered.
Caillou is now off the morning rotation. That bald little bike riding hate-monger is no longer welcome in our home. We’re cutting him off now, who KNOWS what slurs he might come out with in future episodes.
And Nang Nang better watch her back.