we’re back, and none too soon

We are back home at last, after two weeks of what was supposed to be a “relaxing” “vacation,” and there definitely were moments that could qualify, but I think the most relaxing part of the last fortnight was when I dropped off the boys at school this morning. Thank you, sweet Jesus. You may find that a little cruel-sounding, but I assure you that Cooper and Fergus were just as happy to be away from me as I from them, and heaven knows, happy to be away from each other.

We were all driving each other a little nuts. Being together 24/7 with no particular place to go can grate on the nerves after ten days or so, and I know we’ll all be sorry when Daddy starts working a hundred hours a week again, but right now I think he feels pretty ready to go.

I’m sure I don’t need to lay out all the nerve-fraying greatest hits that the boys have been playing as we traveled across this great nation, such as He’s Touching Me/No I’m Not, and I Already Told You That Mommy A Hundred Times, but my greatest annoyance, the one who sent me into paroxysms of nausea and talking through my gritted teeth so I would not lose it entirely, was this young man. Perhaps you’re familiar with him?

Caillou. Freaking CAILLOU. I hate Caillou SO. MUCH, as Madeline Kahn said in Clue, that… flames… flames. And I think that perhaps I am transferring some of my pent-up frustration with my loved ones onto this whiny, annoying, bald, annoying, brat of a four year old, but not so very much.

We don’t watch Caillou when we are home, because I am all about the DVR and choosing very carefully what shows I want my kids watching. And my main criterion is that the show not be annoying. So my kids know nothing of Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Sesame Street post-1990, It’s a Big Big World, or Caillou, because I find all of those shows completely insufferable. My kids mostly watch Mister Rogers and Animal Atlas, because those are shows I can bear as background noise.

But when one is traveling, one is more or less subject to what is on TV, particularly if one lost one’s enormous folder of children’s DVD’s at some point last year, and one continues to delude oneself that if one looks in the minivan just ONE MORE TIME, that they just might be under one of the seats after all.

And I would say that Cooper and Fergus’ favorite part of our trip, more than whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, more than meeting Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom, was the fact that before bed they usually got to watch about 45 minutes of Sprout.

We don’t get Sprout in New York City, but apparently, everyone else in America does. Sprout is a PBS channel that is for some reason, loaded with ads, and I don’t even mean for toys, that would actually be OK with me, but for really weird shit like the Shamwow! and PureSleep. (If anyone wants to hear about the virtues of PureSleep’s “Stop Snoring Solution,” including their iron-clad money-back guarantee, Cooper can recite it for you chapter and verse.)

But the worst thing about Sprout is that it gathers together all, and I mean ALL, of the world’s most annoying children’s television programming. I mean, they even feature Jay Jay the Jet Plane, which features giant trippy crudely-computer-animated faces that haunt my dreams, and I’m a grownup.

But none of Sprout’s programming captures my children’s fancy, and my ire, quite like Caillou. Can someone please tell me what is up with him? He is FOUR, completely bald, and talks in a whine so incessant that it puts my shoulders up around my ears to be in the same household as the television. His own parents, on the other hand, are unfailing sweet and pleasant, which is even more annoying, and they’re all pudgy, and his dad wears a green sweatshirt with what seems to be a red mock turtleneck underneath it, and every episode is like “Dadddyyy! I lost my sailboat!!” “That’s OK, I’ll get it for you, Caillou.” “Thank you Daddy! You got my sailboat!” and that’s all that HAPPENS, there is no conflict of any sort, and their family is just sooo perfect and flames, flames, and IF YOU DON’T STOP WHINING CAILLOU I WILL MAKE YOU STOP AHGGHGHHGHGHGHH.

So that’s how my vacation was. Thank you for listening. I feel much better now.