Thursday, February 06, 2003

No Nick

My son is a major SpongeBob SquarePants fan -- though, thankfully, not yet sophisticated enough to appreciate it on a more adult level, such as the one proposed by Virginia Heffernan on No, my guy is less interested in SpongeBob's "moral vision" than in his tendency to do silly things and make silly noises. He gets so excited by the sponge's antics that he sometimes doesn't come down all evening. And so, of course, I'm pulling the plug.

That's got to be one of the hardest parts of parenthood: withholding something your child really loves, for his own good. In this case, it's all Nickelodeon NickToons that are temporarily banned from our TV -- not just Mr. SquarePants, but "Rugrats," "Hey, Arnold!" and "Rocket Power," too. Not only do these particular funnies wire him up something fierce, but his tendency to pick up phrases and activities and repeat them in other contexts, when no one knows that he's just playing a cartoon character, has started to get him in trouble. The only way I know to make him stop is to remove the source. Maybe if he doesn't hear bully Harold on "Hey, Arnold!" say, "I'm gonna pound you!" for a few weeks, he'll stop saying it to bigger kids on the playground.

He hasn't found anything harmful to pick up yet from gentle PBS cartoons like "Arthur" and "Clifford," or on the Nick Jr. cartoons repeated in the afternoons on Noggin. Franklin and Little Bear, apparently, have no dangerous catch-phrases. And the Food Network is still pretty safe. No need to ban all TV -- it's one of the few rewards he's interested in for good behavior -- but for now, Mom's saying no to Nick. And my boy's left saying, "Barnacles!"

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