Watching your kids grow up is pretty amazing. Between mastering the alphabet, riding a bike without training wheels, getting on the school bus, and learning to not point at people while you laugh at them, a parent definitely feels a sense of pride.
An area of growth that is often overlooked is a kid's ability to identify great TV shows that incorporate a decent story line, great writing, memorable music and a little bit of dark humor. There is a lot of crappy programming created for kids, but with a little bit of parental influence, someday they will be able to choose shows that will make you proud.
A couple weeks ago when Zoe was sick, she rediscovered Dora, and basically the entire lineup of Nick Jr.'s mind-numbing shows. Although it's funny to listen to Zach and Charlie's MST3K-like commentary, we eventually had to take back control of the remote since a person can only hear "backpack backpack, backpack backpack, backpack backpack, gooey geyser, backpack backpack" so many times before they will voluntarily rip their own head off. And I'm pretty sure that a future episode of Max & Ruby will include a visit from Child Protective Services.
Lately, the kids have been watching classic episodes of Looney Tunes. I'm happy to say that even though they are seeing, on average, 526 acts of violence per episode, they haven't asked for anything from ACME, started carrying around meat cleavers, and they're not hoarding sticks of dynamite. Instead, they laugh at Porky's speech impediment and love to watch Bugs dress in drag over and over again. I, on the other hand, had forgotten how much I love Slowpoke Rodriguez. You gotta love a mouse that loves tequila.
When the WB started running edited versions of South Park, I was ecstatic. It was like South Park for Beginners. I don't let my boys watch the show without me, because first of all, I love it and don't like to miss it. But also it's a great opportunity to see just where their moral compass is pointing. Do they recognize the fact that it's not very nice of Cartman to always make fun of Jews? Or fat women? Or the handicapped? Or poor people? And that he's greedy, selfish, and rude? Yes, and even though they know he's a foul character, they know that he's funny as hell. They also know that he's fictional and if they were to ever act like that, I would be forced to make empty threats.
Zach is old enough now to watch a lot of unedited episodes of South Park, but I still watch them without him first, just in case. When I find one that I know he'll love, and he laughs at all the right spots, it makes me laugh even more. Also, it's a reminder of just how educational junior high is, and how important it is to remember...a teenager knows more than you think, and he knows why it's funny that the Jonas Brothers were spraying little girls with their hot, white foam.