Zalaznick: Cartoons aren’t all that great |

Zalaznick: Cartoons aren’t all that great

Matt Zalaznick
Vail CO, Colorado

So letting little kids watch cartoons is, apparently, as unhealthy as storing nuclear waste under their beds. Or feeding them asbestos. Or reading them President Bush’s speeches as bedtime stories.

Studies say a few episodes of “The Wonder Pets” could prevent toddlers from ever learning to sing in Middle English. Experts insist too many back-to-back, snowy-Saturday-afternoon viewings of “Finding Nemo” will leave Those-Who-Are-Our-Future unable to measure the space under the angle of a frog’s gal bladder when they start to dissect creatures in middle school biology.

Research indicates that in a choice between crack cocaine and “Thomas the Tank Engine,” crack cocaine is preferable because it can be consumed in one sitting. Your “Thomas” DVD will last forever ” if it’s kept locked up and safe from little fingers that would use it to test the scratchability quotient of forks.

But I’ll venture to guess none of these experts have kids who wake up at 5:45 a.m. ready to throw blocks at their heads. Sometimes, the only way to prevent such a barrage is to mollify your tiny attacker with an early-morning dose or two (thank goodness for back-to-back episodes) of “Dora the Explorer.”

I’ll go out on a limb and assume that none of these so-called specialists ever reached, say, 6:32 p.m. on a Sunday evening after a toddler has a.) skipped her nap b.) skipped lunch and c.) done 45,675 laps around the spraypark. This is not a toddler who wants to sit down with the Baby Einstein shape sorter and put the trapezoid in the correct slot.

These are not learning opportunities. There are not bonding moments.

Because this is a child who wants to sit on the couch with a bowl of goldfish and some juice and watch a zebra, lion and hippo escape from the zoo and cause a riot at the train station. This is a little girl who wants to see rats make souffles and grizzly bears going bonkers in convenience stores and toys rising up agains the bully next store.

I don’t advocate “letting the television raise you kids.” I advocate letting the TV prevent the family from having a nervous breakdown.

The old flat screen can certainly provide mommy or daddy with their own time out ” or just a split second of placidity in which to go to the bathroom for the first time all day.

It can distract the little ones long enough for you to make dinner “or toast some bread. Or at least tear open a box of yogurt-in-a-tube.

They say matches, water-purification tablets and little fishing line can make the difference between life and death in the wilderness. I say it’s the same with a TV when you’re caught in the middle of a late-afternoon overtired-toddler meltdown.

And cartoons can make kids smarter. They need to know, for instance, that cars can and do talk, and have inner lives all their own. What’s wrong with a little kid thinking that panda bears, though endangered, can excel at martial arts?

I guess they could learn on this from books, but there’s something about seeing a penguin dance and sing and surf in 3-D, high-def that ignites the imagination. And what’s wrong with a little inspiration, eh?

My daughter could do worse than create the next “Cars” or “Ratatouille” or “SpongeBond SquarePants.”

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