I Have Finally Unriddled the Mystique of ‘Caillou’

Caillou's_familyFour kids. Nine years of motherhood. (Yes, I count those seven months I incubated Nadjah as part of my motherhood experience.) Almost a decade of pain, ushered in by one, whiney, obstinate, self-centered little brat: Caillou.

I’ve talked about Caillou on M.O.M. on more than one occasion, I’m sure. I’ve told you how much I hate him. If you have kids who watch PBS or whatever its Canadian equivalent is, chances are you hate Caillou too. But as much as you abhor that little bald-headed ridiculer of all that is good and sane in the world, your kids love him. They adore Caillou. Chances are, your toddler has dropped everything he/she was doing to rush to the TV when the first notes of Caillou’s theme song blared in the background.

I’m just a kid who’s four

Each day I grow some more

I like exploring

I’m Caaaaiiillou!

Oh, kill me. Now.

I have tried in vain to steer my children away from Caillou. The problem is, Caillou comes on between two shows I actually like very much: Word World and Between the Lions, both shows about reading and letters. By the time I would lunge for the TV to turn the channel to something less destructive – say Sponge Bob or Legoman Ninjago – the first notes of that irritating Caillou song were already in full swing.

So many things to do

Each day is something new

I’m Caaaailllou!!!

Stay-at-home-moms and dads, can you hear it? It makes you want to crawl into yourself and eat your own innards, doesn’t it? And the melt down that follows your attempt to shut if off is equally painful, is it not? It makes you feel like you’re losing the game of life… at least it does me.

For almost ten years, an entire decade of my existence, I have struggled unsuccessfully to understand why this brat has been such a hypnotic force over my children. At long last, Liya, the last born of my offspring helped to uncrack the code. I thank God for Liya’s birth, for through her I have come to understand all the former antics of my older children. Without her, all of this would have remained a mystery. And now, I’m going to explain to you the reason you have suffered or are suffering with life with this fictional being who causes so much displeasure. Are you ready?

It’s because Caillou’s behavior is forbidden, and children know it.

Oh yeah. They know he’s a kvetching little snot wipe who deserves to get put over his dad’s knee and have to tar beat out of him. They are well aware that his antics are unacceptable. Every two or three year old knows they aren’t supposed to speak to his/her parents the way Caillou addresses his mother or bosses his little sister, Rosy, around. And that’s why they’re so drawn to him.

How the heck does he get away with it all? Is real life like this at any point in my existence, they wonder?

This is how I know this:

We now have HuluPlus, which means the kids have tons of shows to watch on demand. One of those shows, is of course, Caillou. If you know anything about Hulu, you know it plays whatever show you are viewing on a continuous loop. There are over 300 episodes of Caillou, I’m sure of it. Being that I’ve been at this parenting thing a long time, I have absolutely given up on trying to steer my kids’ cartoon options. Instead, I’ve chosen exile and will reemerge from my room when they are all 16.

Well today, I happened to come out of my room and walked into the kitchen to get myself some oatmeal. Liya was sitting on the edge of the sofa with a Ziploc bag full of Special K cereal, wearing her new Tinkerbell sneakers, a skirt, and nothing else. She had dressed and fed herself at age 3, and that was a proud moment for this mom. On my way back up to my self-imposed solitary confinement, I took note of Liya’s posture and countenance.

She wasn’t moving.

She was hardly breathing.

Although her hand absently dipped into the plastic bag to feed food into her waiting mouth, I’m sure she didn’t taste it going in.

All her faculties were trained on the TV. Where have I seen this before? Why was this scene so eerily familiar…? Good God in the highest. That was it! Caillou was her Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.

My baby – and millions of other American babies – was hooked on trash TV.

You adult reading this. Pick your poison: Real Housewives of X. Jerry. Maury. Tabitha Takes Over. Sunday Night Football. Whatever it is, you know there is ONE show that takes you to a place of pure (and sometimes sordid) fantasy.

Overweight and elderly men like to watch football because they are no longer or have never been athletes: it’s a fantasy. Real housewives watch ‘Real Housewives’ in awe. Are we allowed to behave this way? Surely not! But what if I tried it just once…

No, no and NO! You can’t try it just once, and you know it. You know the consequences of behaving like a brain dead caricature, which is what makes this characters so intriguing… which is WHY toddlers love Caillou so much! He’s a hero, of sorts. He gets over on the big bad guy and gets to break all the rules. And what does he get in return? A hug and a kiss from Mommy and Daddy and his own theme song. If Liya acts a fool, she gets punished. When Caillou is being a jackass, he gets a lollipop. Just like Kim Zolciak got a big fat ring and a hot pro-footballer husband for being a drunken, chain smoking mistress to some phantom named Big Poppa. If I act a fool, I lose my job. If she acts a fool, she gets her own spinoff show. These things ought not be so- but here they are, in living color, on our TVs!

This is the last year I will ever have to watch Caillou. Liya will be off to 3 year old Pre-K and from the hours of 8 – 2:30 pm there will be no toddlers in my house. No cartoons. No reminders of the pain I have endured for all this while. How fitting, that in the last week of summer, that Almighty God Himself would send me this revelation?

Bump that. That’s cold blooded, Lord. I know the song says we will understand it better in the sweet by and by, but daggonit, 10 years is a mighty long time!