Two of my daughter’s favorite books at the moment are Caillou: Bath Time and Caillou: Where Is It? So, when my husband happened upon the Caillou: My Bedtime Story box set on sale at Target recently, he snatched it up.
(Actually, it was WalMart. But I don’t like to admit that anyone from my family shops at WalMart, so let’s just go with Target, mmm-kay?)
The box set included six popular books from the series, which gave us a grand total of eight Caillou books. And suddenly it was all Caillou all the time.
Copyright: PBS Kids
Having observed that Jim’s heroism had not gone unnoticed by our child, I decided to up the ante by setting our DVR to record an episode of Caillou on PBS. Effectively bringing to life the feisty little boy my daughter had come to call her “friend.”
Who’s the hero now?
But my laudable – if not altogether selfless – act came back to bite me in the ass. For upon watching a walking, talking Caillou for the first time ever, I made two startling discoveries:
First, Caillou is pronounced CAI-yoo, not Cuh-LOO. And secondly, Caillou is a whiny bitch.
Yes, each Caillou story contains an age-appropriate lesson pertaining to various social and emotional issues that preschoolers face. And as a conscientious mom, I’m all about toys and television that teach. But must the producers of the animated series impart these messages at the expense of its protagonist, who suddenly comes off as a giant steaming turd?
I must say… this does not convey in the books.
Apparently my contempt is shared by others. In fact, I quickly learned that the cheeky little runt is a hot-button topic on Twitter. In one recent discussion, several suggestions were made in an effort to explain why Caillou is… well, the way he is. Potential diagnoses included oppositional defiant disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and being Canadian.
In the end, though, I didn’t really care what was afflicting the child – I just wanted him out of our lives (or at the very least off our television screen). Because whenever Lil’ Bit watched Caillou, she suddenly took on his more obnoxious characteristics. Which is to say she began acting like a shrill, defiant brat.
The first time it happened, I chalked it up to coincidence. The second time, I began to suspect a most unfavorable correlation. And by the third (and final) time, I decided that swift and immediate Caillou sanctions must be made.
So, we deleted the little shit from our DVR queue. And then told Lil’ Bit he died.
We told her Caillou had not done his best job and was sitting in timeout.
That said, Caillou does live on in our house, if only in literary form. After all, a mute Caillou is a tolerable Caillou.
And on the animated front, Lil’ Bit quickly forgot all about her banished buddy in favor of a new and equally fervent obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine – who, while not exactly the sharpest tack in the box, does manage to impart good messages without acting like an insufferable asshat in the process.
Although whenever he pumps his pistons or feels a tingle in his axles, I have to wonder what’s going on there. And is it really appropriate television viewing for kids?
Which children’s show drives you bonkers?