My kids range in age from 12 to 24, so I’ve watched a lot of kids’ TV in my time. Nothing embarrasses my children more than if I say that I think a guy on their show is “cute”. Apparently, it is inappropriate for mothers to have lust for anyone other than Mr. Clean or the man from Glad.
My oldest daughter, Kaylee, used to watch PBS when she was little…Reading Rainbow was a show I wished she would watch more often, just so I could see more of LeVar Burton. He had the most beautiful eyes, and a smile that would light up a room. LeVar was a hero in my opinion, because he encouraged children to read…the only thing sexier than a man with a baby is a man with a book!
Another show Kaylee liked was Fred Penner’s Place on CBC. Fred was relaxed, gentle, and an awesome folk singer…he always looked good even dressed casually in jeans and a vest with his guitar slung over his shoulder. I never felt like Fred was being condescending to the kids who watched his program. Fred was comfortable, like a favourite sweater. Every time I hear the song “You Brush Your Teeth,” I think of Fred.
Kaylee loved Sharon, Lois and Bram’s Elephant Show! Eric Nagler was a frequent guest on that program. In addition to being a talented musician and singer, Eric was also funny! He had no inhibitions about acting silly, and wrote some fun children’s songs. Eric liked to invent instruments and play them too. He went on to star in his own show, Eric’s World, which we also watched. Eric had a beard and liked to wear vests too…
When Kaylee got older, she discovered the YTV network. In between shows, YTV had personalities called “PJs” who came on and did bits…my favourite was PJ “Fresh” Phil. He was a young Filipino man, with black hair pulled back in a ponytail. Phil wore big rings, chunky bracelets, and had pierced ears and tattoos…not at all the kind of guy I’m usually attracted to! I think the reason I liked him was because he was such a nice guy, smart and funny. He was probably the only PJ I ever saw who didn’t talk at the speed of light (hard for us old folks to understand that!).
Anna’s favourite show when she was small was the Big Comfy Couch. I loved Big Comfy Couch for two reasons: The 10-Second Tidy, and Major Bedhead. That guy successfully pulled off wearing pink and orange together, could ride a unicycle, and was delightfully goofy. Major Bedhead didn’t care if his bright red hair wasn’t perfect! I think he secretly liked Loonette, but she never thought of him as more than a friend…poor guy!
Anna was also obsessed with Blue’s Clues, which was fine because I was a bit taken with its original host, Steve! He was a good 12 years younger than I was, but that didn’t matter…Steve was cute as pie in his green-striped sweater and boyish haircut (move over, Mrs. Robinson…he’s all mine!). I was heartbroken when Steve left the show, and they replaced him with Joe!
Hope’s absolute favourite kids’ show was The Wiggles. Last night, she realized her six-year dream of seeing The Wiggles live – they’re from Australia, and don’t make it to Atlantic Canada very often! Sixteen-year-old Anna and I went along too.
We arrived at Harbour Station just after 5:30 when the doors were scheduled to open, and joined the throngs of parents and their mini-mes in various moods ranging from distraught to super-hyper…I felt grandmotherly (glad I wasn’t taking any rugrats home with me). We found our seats at the top of the Lower Bowl (medium-priced tickets…I wasn’t about to spring for $80 each to sit on the floor in a folding chair!).
The show started a little late, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. I got a chuckle hearing the woman seated next to us explaining to her three-year-old that The Wiggles had come on a bus…it must have been a long drive across the Pacific Ocean! Finally, the stars appeared onstage in their big red car, surrounded by the Wiggly Dancers, Ringo and Captain Feathersword.
Then The Wiggles got out of the car, and made a running lap of the rink, smiling and waving at their screaming fans. A lump rose in my throat, as it dawned on me just how much seeing this show meant to Hope…we were really there! She knew all the words to all their songs, and sang along unselfconsciously, although she was one of the few 12-year-olds in the audience (I may have sung along to “Fruit Salad” – I really like that song!). Dorothy the Dinosaur and Wags the Dog made brief cameo appearances. Everybody there had a great time! After the show, the kids asked me who my favourite Wiggle was…I said it was the Blue one: Anthony.
There’s something about prematurely grey hair that makes my heart beat a little faster…”Oh, Mom!” they said.