Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Curious George Is Not My Friend

Everyone loves Curious George, right? What's not to love? He's a cute little monkey who just innocently happens to fall into mischief because of his natural monkey curiosity!

I used to love Curious George when I was a kid. His misadventures were always fun. Plus, the Man With the Yellow Hat was quite the fashion icon. What kid didn't think it would be cool to dress as a tall walking banana? (Heck, I'd be happy to find myself a nice yellow suit today, but I don't think The Wife would approve.)

How could you not like a cute monkey and a guy in a yellow hat? (And shirt.) (And tie.)

I used to think Curious George was the best!

But then, I had kids.

As a parent, I look at Curious George in a completely different way. The first time I read my kids a Curious George story, I could tell they were enjoying it. Everyone loves that funny little monkey. But, I turned each page with growing trepidation.

Why? Well, pretty much every Curious George story follows the same format:
     1. The Man With the Yellow Hat tells Curious George not to do something.
     2. Curious George does it anyway.
     3. Trouble ensues.
     D. It all works out in the end.
     5. George and the Man With the Yellow Hat have a good laugh.

Is this really the kind of lesson we want to be teaching our kids? "It's okay if you disobey me because no matter what happens it will all work out in the end and we'll have a good laugh about it."

Luckily for Curious George, the mischief he makes is mostly mild: He makes paper boats out of the newspapers he's supposed to be delivering; he trespasses; he gets a puzzle piece stuck in his throat; he lets an ostrich eat a bugle; and so on. I mean, really, who hasn't done most of that stuff? (If I had a dime for every time I've let an ostrich eat a bugle....)

What I'm waiting for are the stories with more serious consequences that can't just be laughed off at the end. The Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to play in the street and he gets hit by a bus. Or, the Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to touch the stove and he ends up frying his hand on the burner. Or the Man With the Yellow Hat tells George not to play with guns and he ends up shooting someone in the face.

In real life, our actions have actual consequences. It doesn't matter how cute of a monkey you are, there are some things you just can't laugh away.

So, I may be a mean dad, but I try to steer my kids away from Curious George. I don't really like the lessons he teaches. That said, I'd much rather deal with Curious George than this guy:

The Cat In the Hat: serious troublemaker!

I love Dr. Seuss books. I really do. He tells some great stories, teaches some great lessons, and has some great characters. That said, I cannot stand the Cat In the Hat.

In the book you've got a mother who leaves her two young children home alone with their only supervision coming from a semi-intelligent talking fish. They, of course, open the door to the first creature to appear, a furry beast wearing nothing but a hat and a bow tie. This beast then proceeds to boss the kids around and wreak total havoc upon the house.

This guy makes Curious George seem well-mannered and well-behaved. Where Curious George is just mischievous, the Cat In the Hat is downright malicious. 

And yet, Curious George and the Cat In the Hat are both widely heralded children's characters, with seemingly unlimited books, television shows, and movies with big-name stars like Will Ferrell and Mike Meyers to showcase their misbehavedness.

People love Curious George and the Cat In the Hat. I don't get it. To me, they're just a couple of troublemakers. And the kids and I find enough trouble on our own. So, thanks anyway, George. I guess I'm not that curious anymore.

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