I decided to celebrate Children’s Book Week with a new adventure. I went on a field trip with the Lil Diva’s third grade class to see a local production of Judy Blume’s classic, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. This book tells the story of poor Peter who is beside himself because of his brother Fudgie’s cuteness, constant meddling in Peter’s things, and total bratiness.
I had never read this book, even though I was a big Judy Blume fan as a kid. This production was hilarious. I couldn’t decide, however, if I was angry over how inept the parents were portrayed or if it added to the charm of the whole thing.
I keep thinking to some of the modern-day cartoons and shows, and how the adults are created to be such boobs. Fairly Oddparents comes to mind. Is anyone familiar with that one? It’s a Nick cartoon where Timmy Turner is a young boy who has fairy godparents who grant his every wish because his life is so miserable. His parents care about almost everything more than Timmy and his babysitter is pure evil. Yes, it sets the stage for many hilarious antics, but couldn’t that happen without making his parents seem so self-absorbed?
iCarly is another show that comes to mind. I like the premise of three kids putting together a web show and doing some silly stuff, but Mrs. Benson is portrayed as a total nut job. She is so paranoid that something will happen to Freddie that she had a tracking chip placed in his brain, has a first aid kit the size of an equipment shed, and makes him wear antibacterial underwear. The teachers at Carly’s school–outside of Principal Franklin, who after the kids get him his job back, admits in an episode that he loves Carly, Sam, and Freddie–are portrayed as mean-spirited people who don’t like kids.
As a mom I can’t help but worry about the message shows like this send to our children; though it’s possible I’ve analyzed these shows much more than the average kid will.
Overall, I am glad I went to see this production at Springfield Symphony Hall. Though the day was cool and rainy, the kids enjoyed getting out and watching a play based upon a book they had recently read in school. I might pick up a copy of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume to see how closely the production followed the book. My daughter mentioned a few differences on the way home.
What did you do today to celebrate Children’s Book Week? Do you think some books and television shows portray parents in a bad light? Do you still let your children read or watch them?
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Hi Cheryl, I agree. I kind of like Fairly Oddparents, because I find it funny, (I can be very base at times), but I agree with the thing about the parents. Our daughter even asked me one time if we felt about her the way Timmy’s parents feel about him. We assured her that, no, it’s just a TV show. And I think that’s one of the keys…parents talking to their kids about what they are absorbing via the TV. We try to limit her TV, but when she does watch it, 9 times out of 10, one of us is there with her, and I’ve found myself engaging her in conversations about what she’s seeing if it’s questionable in some way. So far, so good. She still values what we say even if she doesn’t always agree.
I used to watch Nickelodeon when I was little and the whole parents vs. kids thing was always kind of the main theme. I remember the slogan used to be “Where Kids Rule” or something to that effect. Now they have the Kid’s Choice Awards, etc. and I think all of it kind of feeds into this thing of making kids grow up faster. They’re like little adults instead of kids. Dissing parents in shows feeds into that too. Not that kids shouldn’t be made to feel special or have their own awards shows, but I think there needs to be a balance there.
But again, I think the key is talking to your kids. We’ve really tried to drill into her that whatever she’s seeing on TV is fake. That goes for the violence, the scenarios, etc. It’s fun to watch, it’s a nice escape, but ultimately, it’s just not real.
Great post! Can’t wait to see what other people think.
Thanks for your input, Vanessa. We have the “it’s only a show” conversation a lot around here. My hubby has always been a big TV watcher. I can’t tell you the last time I turned the TV on to watch something, though I usually sit down with the girls before bedtime to watch with them.
It’s similiar to the commercials where the dad is potrayed as a drooling idiot who can’t even cook breakfast without making a huge mess out of the kitchen when mom is sick in bed. Wouldn’t it be nice if shows and commercials sought to empower families instead of tear them down?
Thanks again for stopping by.