Four or five years ago my kids discovered Yo Gabba Gabba. And thus began my love/hate relationship with the show that at the time I described as a “’shroom-like psychedelic trip for toddlers.” The first time I saw it we caught the tail end, where they do a remix of sorts with all of the songs from the episode against a backdrop of wildly-animated patterns and images of children performing sporadic dance moves. I remember thinking it must be one of those shows made to engage babies by use of excessive color, movement and sound.
I glimpsed it on one day and warned my husband, “Don’t leave it on that show—it’s too annoying,” but, alas, my caution arrived too late. He motioned towards our two children who were staring mesmerized at the screen. They were enthralled, fascinated, awestruck, captivated and completely hypnotized (you know I’m just using the synonyms feature on Word Doc here, right?) by the show. Never before had we stumbled across something that held my children’s attention so completely. My oldest couldn’t even walk yet, and he would stand at the television dancing and singing the theme song while the smaller baby would grunt for him to move out of the way. Eventually we had every episode on the DVR AND we played the DVD in the car AND we had a bunch of dancing, singing toys for the precious moments the television was tuned to something different (for example if we were following a breaking news story or experiencing a power-outage due to severe weather). Or in other words, it was always on.
At first, I hated it. The show isn’t “educational” in the sense that it doesn’t teach math concepts like the Umi Zoomi kids, or Spanish like Dora and Diego. The songs, the sketches, Brobee’s voice…everything seemed to be created with the sole purpose as to annoy adults. Because it was on all the time… no I mean all. The. Time. I got a chance to hear the show. Some of the music was actually, dare I say, good. The special guests were really cool. And the kids were actually learning. I witnessed them once sharing a juice box and after a few swigs the other would say, “It’s my turn,” and his brother would hand it over without so much as a whimper. Then, gulp, gulp, “My turn,” switch. I didn’t know where they had learned it until I saw the exact exchange on one of our recorded episodes a few days later. We were deep into the phase. We rushed out to a toy store appearance of Foofa (they were scared to death), and even briefly considered seeing the live show when it came to Dallas (very briefly considered).
Eventually I began to see the show as well. Usually when something holds my kids attention, I run off to cook or clean something nearby. But once I began to watch with the kids I realized the children used on the show were incredibly diverse. The children have one line, “My name is _______ and I like to dance!” and there were children of all types featured—all colors, nationalities, and abilities. I remember seeing children in wheelchairs, and children with Down syndrome. One child even had the line read by a sibling as they both danced on the screen. I fell in love.
And as things usually go with your children, the moment I began really enjoying it was the moment they outgrew the phase. They moved on to Phineas and Ferb and I had to start the entire process again (with the same outcome). My third child never even saw the show, and the toys sat dusty on high shelves or mixed in with Happy Meal trinkets. Then, the other day my husband pulled down a large dancing Brobee and replaced his batteries just for kicks. #4 is two, and after a few moments of terrified shock that the toy from his shelf could sing in an incredibly annoying voice while spinning his arms wildly about, he loved it. I scheduled a few episodes to record on the DVR (the show only comes on now at 1:30 AM). Long story short—this post is brought to you by the precious moments allowed me as my baby sits enraptured in front of the screen watching a show he calls “BoBee!”
Time will tell how long it will last this time. But for now, it's like an old friend has come back for a visit.