Monday, May 23, 2022

Bluey Makes Me a Better Parent

 Who knew that a seven-minute cartoon could change me so much?

As our toddler son happily shared a toy SUV and trailer with our friend’s toddler, our friend said, “You haven’t seen Bluey yet? It’s life-changing.”

Before I gave into the temptation to order the adorable SUV my two-year-old now obsessed over, we had to watch this cartoon family of Blue Heelers, living in Australia.

And we quickly became obsessed. Our kids learned that asking for “just one more episode” would likely be met with a “yes,” because it’s only seven minutes, right?

After ten years of watching children’s cartoons, we found one that, as parents, we were eager to watch this one. My husband laughs out loud as Bluey and her little sister, Bingo, thwart their dad, Bandit’s, attempts to pick up his takeaway dinner.  I giggle as the mom, Chilli, gently teases Bandit, even when immersed in the family’s imaginative play.

For a few weeks we watched and laughed. Our youngest learned that we couldn’t resist when he asked for “Booey and a kicky” (translation: Bluey and a cookie) after bath.  

And then, after hours of Bluey Immersion, something clicked.

Bandit is visibly irritated that Bluey doesn’t want any of her drawings thrown away, when he tries to recycle them, but he takes a breath and explains about how paper is recycled. Chilli plays, but usually finds a way to guide the play in her favor.  

These cartoon dogs are more real than pretty much any parents I’ve seen in children’s programming, and I want to be more like them.

Bandit and Chilli aren’t perfect, and they don’t always have just the right response for each other or for their kids - Bandit goes any entire episode without talking, because he doesn’t talk while camping - but they have responses I can use with my own kids.  

I can be irritated, but not take that irritation out on my kids.

And I can play with them.

In a family favorite episode, “Rug Island,” Chilli gets the kids (pups?) new felt connector pens, and Bluey and Bingo know exactly what to do. They create an island and use the pens for everything from plates to fish to wild animals. My own children became obsessed.  

Obviously, I ordered the markers.

On one randomly stormy Spring day, as thunder and lightning boomed and sparked, all of our outdoor afternoon sports were canceled. I took the kids home, set down my bags and said, “Should we play rug island?” 

Without pause, my three kids immediately began to collaborate, build a fort, open the pens and set up the plates.  

“We don’t have a paddle board,” shouted one.

 “We can use a giant pillow,” shouted another.

Before I knew it, they had the entire scene set.  

And, hail bursting from the clouds outside, I climbed the stairs and entered their world. 

I followed their directions, which mostly required that I climb into the fort and be available for cuddles. I thought like Bandit and Chilli and relaxed into the game, forgetting the laundry waiting for me to fold, ignoring my phone’s faint buzzes. 

Even after we’d returned to our regular evening routine, the vibe felt different, and instead of television that night, my oldest set up drawing stations, complete with pencils, paper, markers, and a beverage for each of us.  

It was an amazing experience, and I want more of it, so much more of it. And I know I can change my patterns and give my family this dedicated time.

Bluey, as it turns out, is life-changing. And all it takes is seven minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.