Dissecting cartoons


…. come on, admit it. You like cartoons.

 Just about everybody does. But digging a little deeper, usually gives me some satisfaction when it comes to why my son loves certain cartoons so much, and why his pretend play skills are the way that they are. 

If you’ve been following me here for a while, you know about my absolute disdain for “Dora the Explorer.” It’s not just her voice that goes right through me, but it’s the mere concept of her show that irritates me to no living end! Let’s debunk Dora, shall we? She’s 6 or 7 years old, who’s constantly lost in the woods (without adult supervision)… with a monkey as a best friend, and who occasionally gets a ride from a strange Spanish speaking squirrel, who drives a car. 

I get that repetition is a great skill to teach young children, but it’s us parents who are the ones who suffer! My boy LOVES the “map” song and he sings it all the time… just to spite me! But I honestly get why he likes it so much. He likes it because he knows exactly what to expect from it… each… and… every… TIME! It’s the repetition that comforts him when he needs it the most, and sometimes his play skills reflect that. 

Brainpop: if you have a young child that’s of elementary school age, then I can guarantee you that they’ve watch a Brainpop movie or two while at school. Brainpop is a 5-6 minute educational movie that talks about everything from the weather to internet safety. There’s a funny robot named Moby who always seems to have a question, and his human sidekicks Annie and Tim help him figure his problem out with facts and some light humor. It’s cute. http://www.brainpop.com has some free movies to check out, and I’m sure your kids will like it. My son thinks that Moby is hilarious and sometimes walks around the house “beeping ” at me. I don’t mind, because I know he’s learning… but it’s still better then the “map” song from Dora. Tom and Jerry: oh, where do I even begin?!? When I was a kid, I loved how the cat was always antagonizing the mouse, and vice versa. The cat always seemed to get his just desserts, while diving into some pretty sticky situations at the same time. But as an adult, I see the racial undertones, the cartoonists love for crude humor, and sometimes, dangerous weapon choices that I don’t particularly like my seven-year-old watching. I don’t really know how my son discovered Tom and Jerry in the first place, but when he tries running after the dog, because he’s imitating a chase scene, I usually put in immediate stop to it! I always explain to him that Tom and Jerry are just cartoon characters, but in his world, they are very real to him, and it’s my job as a parent to be on top of it. 

Inside Out: I absolutely love this movie! I honestly think that my son has a bunch of “Anger’s” and “Disgust’s” roaming around his head at any given moment, but “Joy” is very much alive and present, and is at the center of it all; being the little voice inside his head on most days. As you clearly know, my son is moody and unpredictable, but I honestly think, that he thinks, that he has an entire world inside his head; just like inside Reilly’s head in the movie. I used to always say that I wanted just five minutes inside my boy’s head. Just five minutes… and that would explain everything to me! I know that could never possibly happen, but it would explain so much. 

I suppose that if you got inside my head, you find a lot of filing cabinets, each fitted with a tag that told you exactly what was in it with a date. That’s how organized I really am. I hate clutter and I rely on details to get me through something that I’m uncertain of. It kind of sounds a lot like Temple Grandin if you ask me. She thinks in pictures and doesn’t have time for clutter. I think of myself as lot like her when it comes to that. 

So you might be wondering why the heck I’m talking about cartoons so much? Well, cartoons are fun, and they leave a lot of room for the imagination to roam free. And even when I’m spending quality time with my son, just sitting in a comfy chair with him snuggled on my lap, it’s usually a cartoon that were watching together. It’s something that he can share with me, and I know exactly how it makes him feel. It’s predictable, it’s exciting, and it’s almost like he’s trying to teach me something about it. It’s the way we bond. So when I hear a parent say, “my kids don’t watch tv,” I kindly nod my head, and assume that they have their own bonding time or way with their children as well. And I don’t judge. I never judge. But 9 times out of 10, they aren’t  dealing with autism. They’re dealing with something completely different… and I respect that immensely. 

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