I was going to write this last week, but our internet went out, and so it isn’t as timely as it could be, but I have still more data points as my kids have found more shows that I can’t stand, at least one of which they think I like. They are wrong. I have told them that they are wrong. This does not change their beliefs, because they are children.
So PBS announced recently that they would no longer be broadcasting reruns of Caillou. To the great joy and relief of parents everywhere. There haven’t been new episodes since 2018. Which also means that Caillou-loving kids were watching the same episodes, without any “at least this one is new,” since then. Probably it’s still streaming, but there’s some relief for what is easily one of the most-hated characters in the history of children’s television.
As regular readers know, I have a column where I talk about the stuff my kids watch. And, routinely, someone asks—either in the comments or somewhere I’m mentioning it—why I care. Why am I watching it? Why do I even know all these details about shows I clearly can’t stand? I’ve seen at least a dozen episodes of what even Sonic fans assure me is the bad Sonic the Hedgehog show, and why on Earth would I do that to myself? Not to be That Parent about it, but seriously, you can tell that these people aren’t parents.
Even if I didn’t watch what my kids watch, which is generally agreed to be a smart thing for parents to do so you know what your kids are watching, as a parent, you know about what your kids are watching. My seven-year-old watches gaming videos on YouTube on his school computer. I don’t. I have no interest in them, and there’s one where I’m constantly telling him to turn it down because someone on it has an extremely annoying voice. But of course, he tells me about them. In exhaustive detail.
His younger sister, who turns four next month, not only pretends things to do with Team Umizoomi, she will try to include me in those things. In theory, I am supportive of this, because I should absolutely be playing with my daughter. It’s good for her. It’s good for me. Playing together is one of those other Good Parent things. But it does mean that she tells me things about Team Umizoomi while we play—even though, in that case, she doesn’t have to because I’ve watched the show through repeatedly.
Simon never really got into Caillou, thank Gods. But get me started on Trotro, a show he watched on Netflix every chance he got for a while. When my Stuff My Kids Watch column is a rant, it is a rant about a show that is watched in my presence when my kids get a turn deciding what we’ll watch together. And then tell me about at other times. We have several Paw Patrol books. (Simon still collects the stuffed animals despite not really liking the show anymore.) I am treated like there’s something wrong with me by my kids if I don’t remember these details, then treated like there’s something wrong with me by certain readers if I do—and then it’s even worse if I’ve gotten details wrong through seriously, I do not care about this show.
We didn’t watch near as much TV when I was a kid as my kids do. That isn’t a “go play outside” thing; my sisters and I were more inclined towards sitting inside, reading. It’s more that my mom watched three hours of news every weekday on the only TV we had in the house. There are a lot more screens now than there were when I was growing up. But you’d better believe my mother knew more details than she wanted to about goings-on in Sweet Valley.