Every now and then parents discuss on the Internet or at meetings the children’s programs they truly hate. I switch channels when Tweenies is on and hope that I am not faced with Fifi and whatever. Waybaloo used to make both me and the archaeologist hubby puzzled – until Number One Son started to watch it either at the dawn or as part of the bedtime hour. The puzzlement turned into irritation when we saw it daily. It is the combination of the reinforcement of gender stereotypes, faux orientalism and simple baby talk together with out-of-sync dubbing of real children’s speech that make it truly awful – no matter how cute everything is and how laudable promoting exercise [in the form of yoga] is. Number One Son makes some of the moves while watching and that makes it tolerable for us suffering parents.
However, Waybaloo turned out to be a saviour on the eleven-hour flight to Vancouver, Canada. The earphones were too big for Mr Wriggly but the familiar colourful big-eyed faces kept him captivated throughout the fight. It did not matter that there was just one episode and we watched it again and again and again. His concentration was focused.
In Canada Number One Son had a bad case of jet lag. His internal clock was totally all over the place; he woke up around or after midnight and we spent hours watching 24/7 children’s channel before he fell asleep again just before dawn. Waybaloo and Thomas the Tank Engine provided the familiar relief for him. Somehow Canadian programs looked grimmer but it may just have been the unsocial hours I or the hubby were watching them. The tediousness of staying awake and watching the paint dry in threes (as they showed the episodes of most of the shows) was agonising. 4 Square was as irritating if not even more so than Waybaloo!