Everybody knows I’m not a huge fan of television. It is mostly mindless drivel, and I only watch it when I’m sick or well… when it’s Sunday night and The Walking Dead is on. Because who can miss their weekly dose of Daryl?
Anyway (forcing myself back to the point)… Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of a lot of screen time for littles. I’m not one of those, “OMG, YOU LET YOUR KIDS WATCH TV?!” moms, because, well, most kids these days consider that child abuse. I just try to gently lead the Littles away from the tube and on to more productive activities. Mainly because I Cannot Stand the incessant noise.
Enter Spongebob and his supremely annoying voice.
I thought, a year ago, that I hated Spongebob and all his friends. The laugh, the voice, the Stupidity.
But then I started listening. And enjoying. And realizing that Spongebob is Funny. And sometimes there are lessons in that show that are downright Surprising.
My favorite Spongebob episode involves a box. In fact, the episode is called The Idiot Box. The idiot box is, of course, a plain cardboard box that Patrick and Spongebob put to excellent use. The box comes with a television in it, but that wily sponge and his starfish sidekick throw the TV away and jump straight into the box. Squidward, the classic grown-up-next-door, asks why they threw the TV away, and Spongebob happily explains that he and Patrick don’t need the television, they are going to use their imagination to play with the box. My favorite part is the way he says Imagination like it is the greatest thing in the known universe. Because it is.
Spongebob and Patrick go on to climb mountains, have police run-ins, ride helicopters. Squidward, hearing whirring blades, avalanches, and sirens, repeatedly opens the box to find the friends just sitting in the bottom of it. He doesn’t get it; even when he gets a box of his own, nothing happens. He sees nothing, hears nothing. Spongebob and Patrick, however, are having one thrilling adventure after another.
How can I hate my kids watching a TV show that blatantly tells them it is infinitely more fun to use their imaginations than to be sitting there watching said show? Without fail, they turn the TV off after that episode and go find something imaginative to do.
Amazingly, there are other lessons to be learned from the Spongebob cartoons. Spongebob’s constant quest for his boating license teaches kids how important it is to learn to drive carefully, know traffic laws, and take the whole process seriously. The episode in which Patrick bonds with Grandma Squarepants teaches littles how (not) to handle feelings of jealousy. The episode in which Spongebob becomes a stand-up comedian and uses his squirrel friend, Sandy, as the butt of all his jokes teaches why we shouldn’t spread racist humor. The show is filled with lessons about friendship, work ethic, and staying optimistic under any circumstances.
One more thing I bet you didn’t know. The creator of Spongebob Squarepants is a marine biologist. Um… What? That is pretty cool.
It feels weird for the Lit Mama to be recommending anything TV for your children. But I do like being surprised, and Spongebob surprises me with its hidden depth and wit, and if you have to let your kids watch a little television so they don’t call Child Protective Services on you, you may as well let them watch Spongebob.