Attention, readers: The tone of this article is exaggerated for humor value. Although it does describe a potentially serious side-effect of watching a program that I personally find unbearably irritating, not every detail is intended literally. If you feel angry after reading it, please take a deep breath and step away from the screen. Comments are closed now that I have given the Teletubbies fans a more than fair chance to demonstrate their social skills and intelligence.
Nicholas is six-and-a-half now, far older than the target audience for Teletubbies, but this morning he was teasing me again about this rule, and I realized that the story behind it should be explained on the Internet so that other parents can benefit from my traumatic experience instead of experiencing it themselves.
The Teletubbies are an evil force that corrupts children!!! No, this is not about Tinky-Winky being gay. It’s about the unique mind-altering, discipline-perverting, common-sense-shattering power of those plastic-faced demons.
I was disgusted by the existence of Teletubbies from the very beginning: It’s a television program for one-year-olds, and one-year-olds should not watch any television at all. When I was pregnant with Nicholas and spending a lot of time on the couch feeling queasy, I watched an entire episode of Teletubbies and found it appalling: They live in an unrealistic world, eat nothing but dessert, speak in annoying voices, and are accompanied by a cloying narrator and some kind of giant chortling sky-baby! Aargh! I concluded that no child of mine would ever watch Teletubbies. Daniel readily agreed: “There are plenty of better things to watch, when we’re watching anything.”
We were about 99% successful in preventing Nicholas from watching television before he was two years old. When he did start watching, we watched it with him, which ruled out the most inane programs.
But then, around his third birthday, Daniel and I got sick simultaneously. For the first time, we “used TV as a babysitter” to some extent, allowing Nicholas to watch hours of anything that seemed remotely appropriate while we wallowed in semi-consciousness.
One day, when I came downstairs from my turn for quiet napping, we had a conversation that went something like this:
NICK: Guess what Daddy and me watched! Teletubbies!!!
MAMA: Ack! What?! We agreed on NO Teletubbies EVER!
DADDY: Sorry, but I was asleep when it started, and it seems pretty harmless, just weird. This episode showed inside their underground lair. Did you know they have sort of a TARDIS console down there?
MAMA: You mean Teletubbies are able to use knobs and things?
NICK: Yes, like the custard dispenser! Custard! Custard! (supersonic giggling) Hee hee hee!
DADDY: They have like a whole control panel of some sort.
MAMA: (feverishly paranoid) You can’t let Teletubbies control things! They’re obviously not competent! And now they have time travel? No era is safe! [etc.]
The next day at precisely 4:00 a.m., Nicholas awakened me by jumping on my head screeching, “Time for Teletubby bye-bye!!” Such behavior was completely out of character for him–it’s even less sensible, and far more evil, than building towers in the dark–so it can only be explained by those pallid plastic-faced malefactors having implanted a post-hypnotic suggestion in my child’s innocent young mind. What’s next, an antenna sprouting from his head?!?
“NO MORE TELETUBBIES!!” I said it loud and clear. I thought we were all in agreement.
Several months later, I returned from a Girl Scout overnight to find a Teletubbies DVD lying around. Daniel had allowed Nicholas to check it out of the library. I was indignant, but they promised to watch it only when I was out of the house, believing that the whole issue was with my personal hatred of cloying baby-talk and fiendish giggles.
At 4:00 a.m., a small knee hit me in the chin, a pajama-clad belly mashed into my face, a sticky little hand yanked my hair, and a nightmare version of my son’s dear little voice shrilled, “Time for Teletubby bye-bye!!” I turned on the light, extricated my head, and spent several minutes shaking Nicholas awake as he–with his eyes half-open and rolled back–chortled maniacally. He was clearly possessed. It would have been terrifying if I hadn’t been so annoyed.
Now that this was shown to be a clear pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident, Daniel was convinced of the wisdom of forbidding all future Teletubbies viewing. However, he and Nicholas had developed a routine in which Nicholas pulled up Daniel’s shirt and kissed him on the tummy, and Daniel giggled “like a Teletubby.” I was able to tolerate this only because Daniel is not capable of a particularly shrill giggle. For months, they did it every day when Nicholas and I were leaving for school. But at least nothing was said about it being time for bye-bye. Aargh.
- Teletubbies are evil pawns from another world, sent by the creepy sky-baby to infiltrate our children’s minds and cause them to gleefully break our necks or at least drive us insane.
- If, against my advice, you have allowed your young child to watch Teletubbies, set your alarm for 3:55 a.m. and get up off your pillow, out of harm’s way.
- Just because you’re not the parent who suffered in the middle of the night doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the Teletubby menace even when the other parent is out of town.
- Banning Teletubbies from our home works for me! Nicholas has never once jumped on my head in the night for any other reason.