This Mama came up in The Reading Rainbow, Sharon, Lois and Bram and David The Gnome era. I wanted pink hair like the truly outrageous Jem, and navel accessories like my beloved Treasure Trolls. I had my fair share of toys, and was never one to turn down a gift from Grandma. While I did salivate  over the occasional advertisement for Skip It and the latest Polly Pocket, I do not remember feeling inundated with countless and mindless commercials for even more senseless toys and products for kids.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe nothing’s changed, but somehow, in some way, I feel that it was a safer time for children. Lately it seems that for every 20 minutes of “quality” children’s programming (note: sarcasm) there are 10 minutes of “Look at this! Buy this! It glows! Its squishy! Follow it on Twitter! It’s microscopic! It’s awesome! You NEED this, kids!” Not only are advertisers and marketing firms targeting a younger demographic, like the pre-Tweens, I feel like they are coming after the toddlers too…like my Henry. He’ll be in the other room playing but as soon as he hears the entrancing sounds of techno music and and the shrill cry of an overly enthusiastic announcer,  he’ll drop whatever he’s doing and run into the living room like bat out of hell screaming, “Mami, I want it! I want it! Now! Please?” He won’t even know what the commercial is for, all he knows is that he has to have it, now. Before you judge me you should know that I only allow him to have a couple of hours of TV and computer time each day. If ever more, it is because it was a particularly good day full of good boy behavior. I always steer clear of the larger cable networks as it’s not only inappropriate programming for my son in terms it’s content, but also because of the exorbitant amount of alluring and incredibly persistent, almost aggressive, commercials I know my wide-eyed and trusting toddler will be exposed to. I have always been a faithful Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. viewer, which I felt provided a good combination of funny, silly, witty and educational programming. While they replaced some older shows with newer ones that are questionable in my book, especially on Nickelodeon, I have found that my son has learned some fundamental life lessons by watching the dynamics between his favorite Nick Jr. characters like Kai-Lan and her buddies, and Little Bill and his family members. I felt that Nick Jr. was a relatively safe place for my child to grow and learn without being exploited or corrupted. Oh how wrong I was…

The beginning of the end started when they got rid of “Face”, Nick Jr.’s long-time colorful mascot. Geared towards the nursery/pre-school crowd, he sang songs, played games, talked about feelings and the weather, and taught kids their numbers and the alphabet. It was sweet, loving and innocent. They replaced him with Moose A. Moose and Zee, two lovable characters that provided kids with a feeling of authenticity each and every day, and bestowed upon us parents a sense of nostalgia, bringing us back our own rose-tinted memories, making our viewing experience that much more bearable. I knew all the songs and cues, and would even have heart to hearts with Henry that began with “Well, what would Moose and Zee do?” He loved them, and honestly, so did I. I was shocked and incredibly disappointed when in March 2012, these sweet, animated emcees were yanked off the air with absolutely no notice, and the time slots between shows that would normally be filled with cute, silly songs and stories about seasons, friendships and recycling were replaced with asinine commercials for products that try to make bathing in a pool of blue vomit seem appealing, and spots selling a whole plethora of squeaking and blinking microscopic toys that teach my child absolutely nothing. According to Nickelodeon’s website, they have to adhere to strict guidelines when it comes to what then advertise on their network, but that there are occasions when something slips by them and ask that we report it right away…Damn right I will!

It isn’t too much of an issue for us these days, thanks to the power of DVR we’re able to skip right through the commercials. However, I can’t help but feel that the damage is done. Henry knows whats out there, and I’m pretty sure he knows the jingle for it as well. All I can do is keep paying attention to what he watches, limit or replace it with more productive activities, and let him know that he really doesn’t need that LaLa Loopsy doll and that his Little Mermaid lady friend would not appreciate him bringing another woman into the house.  Sigh…I’m SO not looking forward to Christmas this year!