Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Cull

My daughter's new calendar has penguins on it.

I have noticed that I've wandered off the old subjects of what my daughter gets up to at school. She went back after a Christmas vacation that she most assuredly did not want. For her the weekend is too long. And the unbelievable number of days off that this school seems to have pisses her off no end. I can tell her ten times that there's no school on a given day and when she sees the clock hit noon she excitedly yells that it's time ti suit up and get on that bus. And I have to break her heart again. So she's very happy to back at school.

So happy in fact that on Tuesday she cried because she had to leave. As in wailed because the teacher had mentioned some things the kids might do that day that they didn't get around to. But she's ecstatic to be engaging in some of the things that - even though we do somewhat at home - she likes doing at school. Lots of coloring and stuff like that. I have no idea what letter the class are focused on at the moment though. I used to learn this on a Monday based on whatever snack the kids were eating. But the energy focused on riding that theme completely disappeared before Christmas. This week the kids got left-over cookies and pretzels so far. I do know that the main major theme is Signs Of Winter. It says so on my daughter's bring-home calendar. I tried to indulge this ahead of time by pretty much converting everything we talk about into a winter version. So when my daughter and I hid under a blanket from my son -who was clearly trying to get us - my daughter came up with the idea that we were Daddy Mouse and Princess Mouse being hassled by Baby Mouse. I suggested he was going to freeze us and turn us into Mice-icles. Bloody genius that is.

Oddly at school the two things that have been focused on for the theme of Signs of Winter are polar bears and penguins - neither of which can be found within one hundred miles of me. And penguins aren't exclusive to winter. That's like claiming whales are a Fall creature. Anyhoo next week they go on to learn about winter animals (which is what they are allegedly doing already surely?) which I'm assuming is a description of how angry and violent people become in a grocery store parking lot when they try and park after it has snowed. The week after that - dinosaurs. Nice change-up there.

Actually it blows my mind that the two things that are focused on in such a massive fashion for kids with regards entertainment are trains and dinosaurs. Neither of which exist in this country at this present time. Although I'm sure during the coming election year the President will face charges of planning to unleash a socialist dinosaur to spread Islam to the fly-over states. And once kids turn five or six everything pitched at kids seems to involve a child that has to engage in some sort of weird battle against other kids/animals/adults/aliens to save the planet from destruction. So I'm happy that this age is about more innocent things. But it is odd to me that kids can become so enamored by trains without seeing them in any capacity (on the whole) in public life. I always assumed someone would have developed a to-scale playground thing that kids could play with. I don't think I've ever seen one. Imagination is all well and good but that one seems like a missed opportunity to me. The dinosaur thing is weirder to me too. Of all the things in all human history the one that seems to be most often replicated for kids are dinosaurs. Not savage massive murderous ones obviously. Cutesy talking ones that like recycling and school. I'm serious too - in one episode of a dinosaur cartoon that I watched the parent dinosaur teaches the kids not to litter OR THEY WILL ALL DIE. Which is made the more terrifying because this clearly is intended to plant in children's minds that there once were dinosaurs - then some of them littered carelessly - and now they are all dead. Of course the show couldn't leave it there and went into a short bit about recycling plastics. I'm all for it for a variety of reasons - but the prevalence of recycling chatter in kids shows outnumbers the occurrence of it in adult programming considerably.

Anyway - some genius actually thought this through and combined both of these things into a show called Dinosaur Train wherein nice friendly kid dinosaurs take a daily school trip (I think) on a train to visit other creatures and learn about the planet. It's a decent show actually - aside from the typical thing in kid's programming where primal animal instincts are completely whitewashed out to teach kids human things. Those dinosaurs would kill and eat each other. Instead they pack sandwiches that they share. You know the writers of that show probably specified what kind of whole-grain bread it was, and that the sandwich filling wasn't meat and came from Whole Foods - but it got cut in the rewrite. I know it's silly but I can't wrap my head around cartoons like this where they have a leopard and an antelope as best mates. They inevitably go on to learn about plants, respect for rules and astronomy and stuff like that. Shouldn't they at least mention the fact that leopards eat antelopes? These shows tend to mix in some bit about how people are barbaric and kill animals at some point. Or - worse - cut down trees. My daughter's ultimate favorite show (Wild Kratts) even had a bit where the two main protagonists lambasted an evil character in the show for wanting to eat some fish. It was - on principle - a reason why the character was evil. The fish wasn't a rare species or a dolphin mistaken for a fish. It was just some fish. That Dinosaur Train show though did also include a bit where they talked about rainbows (another BIG topic in kids shows) and a character actually used the ambiguous line, "rainbows come from Nature!" - insinuating everything that comes from nature is the best. Except apparently animals eating other animals lower down the food chain.

Actually yesterday I was in the kitchen washing dishes and my daughter was watching Sid the Science Kid. He was supposed to be learning some lesson about why you shouldn't just turn all the taps on the house, leave the hose running and chuck away that glass of water. I was hoping that the parent in the show would just point out that doing that sort of thing is considered arseholish. Something about waste being silly, it costing money and stressing resources in other areas. Stuff like that. Instead the kid gets his own epiphany and rushes home to tell his parents that he now knows that if he wastes water than someone else has to go without. Wait, what? Is that a West Coast thing? Are they rationed water over there? If Sid doesn't drink his water like a good boy someone else has to suffer actual thirst? There are oodles of ways to teach a child about waste and conservation, but that one seems quite manipulative to me.

You see how angry penguins make me? I'm a social liberal in so many ways but those bastards show up and I start ranting about culling everything.

1 comment:

  1. It's refreshing to hear your daughter LOVES school. I, myself, have never been one for schooling... Please ask her if there's a secret to her enthusiasm. I could use a bit of her excitement as I finish out my looong college career. ;)

    Oh, and I can say for a fact that us West Coasters do not have a rationed water supply... Thank God.

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