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The 3-Year Old Cartoon Connoisseur

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first post by regular Guest Brewer Linda Simensky. The picture above is from from her cameo appearence in episode 6 of PBS Kids’ WordGirl.

I just finished celebrating my birthday. My actual birthday was about a month ago, but I was busy then and kind of distracted and it rained that day, so we didn’t really do much. But there was a high point that day, and it was a big one for me. My daughter asked to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with me.

A little background first — I have a son, Ethan, who is eight and a daughter, Sara, who is three. They find my job in kids TV mildly interesting, but as far as they know, every kid’s mom works in kids TV. That’s just how life is for them. They do like TV, at least. But as far as ways to kill time, Ethan would just as soon play games. He loves his Wii, videogames and Club Penguin the most. Coming in second would be his Bakugan toys. Next would be Bionicles. Next would be reading or anything to do with Harry Potter. Then we get to watching Bakugan. By the time we get to this point, his free time is all used up.

You’ll notice no mention of funny cartoons. He does watch the occasional funny show, but only if for some reason it isn’t time for Wii. Now one of my major interests in life, as well as my career, is animation — and specifically funny cartoons. So you see the irony here. Others in animation with kids warned me of the “they don’t always like what you want them to like” syndrome. I always knew it could happen to me.

My daughter, on the other hand, is still open-minded and malleable. She does have some definite opinions, and she does love TV. She likes funny things. She hasn’t really discovered computers yet, and she doesn’t play videogames yet. So this was her birthday gift to me — she came shuffling in to the bedroom on the morning of my birthday and said, “Let’s watch some Bugs Bunny cartoons.” I’d have to say this may be one of my biggest accomplishments in child rearing as of late.

We did watch Bugs Bunny cartoons that morning. And we’ve watched on several weekend mornings since. She seems to like Bugs the best, although she is definitely drawn to Daffy as well. And the crazier the gags, the more she likes them. My mother had mentioned to me that by three, she already could see that I liked cartoons, so maybe it just runs in the family.

With that in mind, I spent my Amazon gift certificate getting caught up on the Looney Tunes DVD sets. I already had four of the DVD sets, and with volume six coming out just last week, I realized I had better get volume five. Especially now that I have an eager three-year-old to share them with. (Subliminal advertising: Go buy the Looney Tunes DVDs.) Apparently volume six is the last of this excellent series.

A three-year-old watching Bugs Bunny probably doesn’t seem like a bi deal to many of you, but consider that kids aren’t watching the Looney Tunes the same way we all did. When I started in the kids TV industry in the mid-1980s, I was ten years older than the oldest kids in the audience. We had pretty much the same lives. Sure, they grew up with cable, and we didn’t have it until I was in junior high, but that was the biggest difference. Otherwise we all had had many shared experiences growing up, and watching Looney Tunes on Saturday morning was one of them. Kids now don’t watch the Looney Tunes much — it’s hidden on Boomerang. And there are more funny cartoons available to kids these days — and most of them were made in the past decade, not half a century ago.

You can see why it would be such a big deal that my daughter would want to watch Looney Tunes. So yes, it was a pretty good birthday.

Next up for my daughter — some NFB films. We’ll start slowly.