My preschooler just turned four years old. Time again for her annual pilgrimage to the pediatrician for a well-child visit. We adore our pediatrician, so I look forward to chatting with her. That is, I was looking forward to it, until we arrived at the visit and I suddenly remembered the other hallmark of a four-year-old’s birthday: vaccines. Lots of them.
The nurse confirms my dread as he mimes a shot in the arm and mouths She’s going to get two over his shoulder on his way out of the room to get the syringes. “Honey,” I begin, clearing my throat. “Sometimes even when you’re not sick, the doctor needs to give you medicine to make sure you don’t get sick. It’s called a shot, and it only hurts for a minute.”
“I know, Mommy.” Her lips pursed in a knowing expression, she pats my hand and says, “Don’t worry, it will be okay. I’ll just close my eyes and think of something happy.”
“Oh. Well, that’s…good.” Daniel Tiger strikes again!
The doc’s office isn’t the only place one of my children has recited a little life lesson from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It happens frequently. I’ll be just about to intervene or explain a situation, and one of my kids will belt out a memorized ditty from the show. Then I’m left standing there like a chump. I’m being replaced…by a PBS cartoon!
The jingles are so catchy and subliminal I even find myself humming a little earworm like Growwwwwnups Come Back while I’m getting dressed for a date. You might think we watch TV constantly, but it’s quite the opposite. They only occasionally catch one episode on the weekend via Netflix, making it all the more incredible how well they know and internalize the messages. Each time one of the kids says Everyone is big enough to do something or Find a way to play together, I think of the great Will Ferrell line in Anchorman: I’m not even mad, I’m impressed.
Truly, I am only a little bit irked that a cartoon character can continually best me at parenting. But I’m mostly happy because, hey, every time they know to go to the bathroom (When you have to go potty, stop and go right away!) instead of just standing there whining until I figure it out and tell them to go is getting the job done. Count it as one less time I have to feel 1% crazier. And that is a big win for me, which is why I’m a Daniel Tiger mother. Because like a tiger mother, I start out with all these principles and ideals. But at the end of the day, I will do whatever is required to make my life easier. I will cut corners, I will even cut crusts off, and I will definitely let them watch television.