A Crabby Lunch

My boys are not allowed to watch cartoons – not that they would now anyway – they’re teenagers … but they haven’t watched cartoons in years.

You must think I’m the meanest mom in the world.

Truthfully? I’m definitely a runner up.

But no, cartoons are not allowed in my house. And here’s why …

They are mind-numbing nonsense.

When the boys were little, they watched cartoons. Hours and hours of cartoons. So many cartoons, in fact, that it got to the point where I could virtually recite, line-by-line, some of those silly cartoons – that’s how many times I listened to them while picking up Lego’s, stepping over Thomas Trains and balling dirty socks up in one fist and “shooting” them into the clothes hamper. (Hey, you have your entertainment, I have mine – don’t judge).

But it wasn’t until one particular cartoon became popular that I put my foot down. The cartoon?

Ed, Edd and Eddy.

I ABHOR this cartoon. I mean LOATHE it.

First of all, what is up with all of the character squiggly lines/movement? It is the most distracting aspect of trying to watch that stupid show. What, the cartoonists thought it would be cool to give viewers headaches with trying to keep up with all of the jerky animation?

Guess what? It did.

And then the characters themselves are just downright nasty to look at. The flesh tones are pasty and remind me of vomit and the eyes cross. Ugh. And then, there’s the language. The dialogue was … asinine. The plot was pointless and the humor? Wasn’t funny, it was just stupid. And the voices themselves … the tones just grated on my nerves.

But I could ignore all of that and did for a long while because the boys enjoyed it. Even though the entire concept behind the cartoon was to dumb-down any and all intelligence, I looked the other way all for the sake of listening to my boys laugh at the sheer insanity of this cartoon.

But then … then they started quoting lines from the cartoon. And began to assume characteristics of these idiot characters and re-enact portions of the cartoon and I simply couldn’t take it anymore.

I started paying attention.

I began not only watching Ed, Edd and Eddy, but I began watching a number of other cartoons the boys were watching. Spongebob Squarepants for instance (though equally stupid, at least it was funny). And a number of other popular cartoons at the time.

And I found all of them severely lacking in content and/or intelligent humor (which could be argued, how intelligent can you get with school-aged kids, but still … let’s give these little people SOME credit, shall we?)

After a while, I just couldn’t justify allowing the kids to watch something so … mind numbing, so pointless, so … stupid. I realize they are cartoons and they aren’t meant to be taken seriously, but some of the messages behind these cartoons was just … skewed that I didn’t feel like it was adding anything to their intellect.

And so, I directed the boys to something a little more intellectually stimulating.

The Discovery Channel, for instance. Shows that dealt with space, history, the earth, science, animals, technology … you know, shows that used proper grammar and talked in complete sentences – shows that actually stimulated intelligence and prompted thought. (Remember the whole what you put into your mind comes out your heart thing?)

My boys soon began to LOVE Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, How It’s Made, Man Vs. Wild, The Deadliest Catch and so on. At least these shows experimented with real-world concepts and jump started their synapses.

The husband began taping all of these shows and we would sit down, as a family, and watch them together. And they have prompted more than one thought-provoking conversation, which in my opinion, is always a good thing. So I didn’t feel too terribly guilty taking the boys’ cartoons away from them when it was replaced with something that actually required them to think, contemplate and regurgitate questions and ideas.

Our favorite show, though, out of all of those mentioned above, was “The Deadliest Catch.” We have been HOOKED on that show since it began. It was not only the process of fishing for crab that caught our attention, but rather, it was the strength, endurance, patience, risk and sheer determination of the fishermen who lived the experience all for the sake of catching a spider-like creature at the bottom of the Bering Sea that “reeled” us in. (pun intended).

We simply couldn’t get enough of it. (It also introduced the boys to Bon Jovi because of the theme song. Speaking as a child of the ’80’s and who has had a crush on Jon Bon Jovi for as long as I can remember, I was ESTATIC. Now I had an EXCUSE to blast Bon Jovi whenever I had the chance. Boo-yah!).

It also made the boys very curious about crab. They wanted to taste it, touch it, really get a chance to examine it.

So, the husband and I took the boys to Red Lobster for lunch yesterday. We didn’t want to order a whole plate of crab in case they didn’t like it, so the hubs ordered a combo plate. MK ordered the popcorn shrimp, GD had the shrimp alfredo and I had the crab alfredo (I’m not a big seafood person to begin with, but I can occasionally handle crab).

When our food arrived, the boys were very eager to take a look at the crab legs. They handled the legs, they made little scratching gestures, they bent the joints, they tested the sharpness of the claw … oh wait, that was the husband. (In fact, the husband was having so much fun with the crab legs he made our waitress laugh).

The husband showed the boys how to crack the leg and attempt to pull out the juicy meat in one piece. He wasn’t successful, but it was fun to watch the guys try it.

They tasted it. And they liked it. And the experience satisfied their curiosity so now, when they watch The Deadliest Catch, they will have a deeper understanding of the monetary value and hard work behind the fishing escapades.

It’s so SATISFYING when your children pursue and then learn something about the world around them, isn’t it?

Yesterday was our last luncheon together for a while – school starts back on Monday. That was sort of the grand finale of the summer – we had been promising to take the boys out for crab for weeks, but wanted to wait until the very end because A. it prolonged the suspense and B. it’s freaking expensive to eat seafood! ($50 plus dollars for lunch?!).

But the time and money was nothing compared to the pure joy and satisfaction on the boys’ faces. They’ve ingested a bit more of the world …



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5 thoughts on “A Crabby Lunch”

  1. I have no children I work with them and I have a younger brother and I have to tell you that I admire you for putting your foot down with the TV at your home. Yes, children’s TV is garbage, rotten stinky garbage. It’s brain dead and devoid of any worthy content and it’s the reason why children just don’t think at all. I wrote something about this same topic on this post, but your writing is extremely inspiring. Until now I never thought anything could be done about the poor children’s programing. It never occurred to me that TURNING OFF THE TOONS was an option at all. If, by the time I have children, programing for children is this horrible, I’m following your footsteps. Thanks!

  2. Good for you! Redirecting the kids to History and Discovery Channels was brilliant! Wish I’d had them when my kidlet was growing up. The cartoons weren’t quite as bad in the early 80s as they are now so I just tried to limit which ones and for how long she watched.

    In the 50s and early 60s when I was growing up the cartoons were funnier and sometimes even educational – almost! Think Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine on Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    The message behind the cartoons back then was usually good triumphing over evil. Now it seems, at least in what I see my grandkidlets watching, to be using super powers or technology to beat the bad guys. But you have to do bad things to beat them. So it’s almost like EVERYONE is a bad guy. Some just worse than others.

    The so-called adult cartoons send an even more frightening message. They ridicule the family, especially Dad. He’s always a drunk or an idiot. OK, I really did grow up with Ozzie & Harriet and Father Knows Best. And in my own life of 57 years, I’ve learned that my father really did know best. He was a strong, honorable man who took care of me from my birth to his death. I could always turn to him and my mom for advice and assistance and love. It really hurts to see dads treated so badly in these animated, trashy cartoons.

  3. Oh. My. Gosh. Carolyn! I feel the same way about those home videos!!! In fact, I can’t STAND to watch them for the exact same reasons. I don’t think people getting hurt is funny at all. AND, I think it just prompts people to pull similar stunts. Truly, my guys laugh too and I don’t get it. At all.

    My guys have watched South Park and other adult cartoons and though we laugh (because some of that stuff truly is hilarious) I usually walk out after a while because it just gets over the top raunchy after a while. I can handle a bit of that stuff, and then I’m done.

    The boys usually flip it to something else after a while. Which is rewarding because they are choosing to watch something more interesting, like Deadliest Catch.

    I’ve always exposed them to stuff like that and we’ve talked about what we’ve watched. Now, it’s like old news to them and they would rather watch something else.

    I’d like to think my husband and I have had something to do with that choice. *grin*

    And just for the record, I don’t think watching cartoons warps anyone’s brain; I just think given the stupid, brainless humor that is in today’s cartoons (which no one can deny are nothing like what we used to watch back in the 70’s – the “humor” is more crude and just a bit on the risque side) is truly just pointless and on some levels dumb-down our children.

    And I’m NOT saying that ALL of today’s cartoons are like that. However, going back to my example, I truly think Ed, Edd and Eddy is the lamest, and most dumb cartoon I’ve seen in a long time.

    If our kids are going to watch TV, why not direct them to something more productive? That’s all I’m saying.

  4. Way to go Mom! You are doing the right thing. I won’t say Ethan is perfect and doesn’t watch cartoons — because he tries to push my buttons and see how long it takes me to catch on that he’s watching Southpark or the Simpsons while I’m reading a book or writing on the computer. So, I’m SURE when I’m not around, he “forgets” to keep on moving down the channel changer to something else.

    However, the shows you listed — Dirty Jobs, How Its Made, The Deadliest Catch, Myth Busters — are among our favorites as well. (you have to through the Speed channel in there … Pinks, Wrecked …. David dispatches for trucks, so of course he is snared into truck-oriented shows.

    Maybe I have no sense of humor, but one show that I really can’t stand, and I hate it when my guys watch it – and laugh and laugh and laugh — is America’s Funnest Home Videos. Yes, there are some funny videos shown. But, the worse that it LOOKS like someone gets hurt, the harder my guys laugh, and I just don’t get it. I’d like to see some video cuts of AFTER the fall or running into the tree. Course, I sit out the demo derby every year for the same reason. There is just something very unnerving for me to watch cars crash … intentionally.

    I am such a stick in the mud….

  5. My kids watched cartoons — and still do. BigBob watches some of them, too. And I have occasionally enjoyed an episode of South Park. They watch “Adult Swim” which includes Family Guy (hysterically funny sometimes). And BigBob likes King of the Hill. Spongebob has always been a favorite around here, for obvious reasons. In fact, #1Son’s nickname is Squidward. When he was younger, MattieBoo watched Ed, Edd, and Eddy, along with Rug Rats and Hey, Arnold.

    We grew up with The Jetsons, Flintstones, Top Cat (after whom I named my beloved T.C.), Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Dick Dastardly and the Wacky Races, and, of course, Rocky and Bullwinkle. I still love Fractured Fairtytales. Watching those shows didn’t warp our brains.

    I admire your determination to challenge your kids and assure that they are well-rounded. The whole key is balance. If something that is designed to be a pleasant, brief diversion from the stresses of daily life begins interfering with that life, it’s time to make a change.

    This year MattieBoo is taking several Advanced Placement classes & will be working very hard at school. If he is bringing me good grades in those kinds of courses, I have no problem letting him unwind in the evening with some video games and a few silly cartoons.

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