September 1, 2011
Toddlers, Tiaras and Tantrums
The mascot and I have a new little ritual. A couple of nights each week, we eat dinner on the couch and watch some of the ridiculous programming on TLC. It’s all pretty bad, but we’ve narrowed it down to a couple that we can stomach: Toddlers & Tiaras and Outrageous Kid Parties.
Toddlers and Tiaras is entertaining, but a little (ok, a lot) disturbing. I can’t believe the things that these parents do to their children, all in the interest of winning a giant, gaudy trophy and an oversized, gaudy crown. (Ironically, there are no “tiaras” to be won on Toddlers & Tiaras…just big, ugly headpieces that vaguely resemble a bejeweled version of Toronto’s city hall.)
The problems that I have with T&T are many, but it isn’t enough to get me to stop watching. Yet. Until that happens, I will continue to watch, holler at the ridiculous behavior of the parents, roll my eyes at the outfits and the “talent”, and congratulate myself for having the good sense not to get my own child involved in such a spectacle. For the most part, it’s harmless…in the same way that pet snakes are harmless.
Last night was the first time that I have had to walk out during one of our “tv dinners”, though. We were into our second episode of the evening of Outrageous Kid Parties and I simply could not take another second. The first episode had been about a woman who threw an all-out, Egyptian-themed backyard extravaganza for her 5 year old daughter. Besides the tens of thousands spent on décor, food and (ahem) entertainment, her gift to her mini Cleopatra was a necklace and earring set that cost the equivalent of what I would spend on 6 weeks of summer camp for my own child. But, if you wanna piss your own (or, your husband’s) money away on one afternoon of DJs, belly dancers, tarot card readers and a giant sandbox, then who am I to judge?
The second episode, however, really got me riled up. The woman, a single parent of a 10 year old boy, wanted to throw her son a Hawaiian-themed party, complete with a $5000 cake. Top prepare for the shin-dig, they took hula lessons (which he hated), spent an hour or so getting pwned by a surf-simulator (which he never fully grasped), went for detoxification treatments (what?) …and that’s where they lost me.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the money being thrown around, even though they spent almost half a year’s grocery budget on CAKE. No, it was the fact that during all of these “fun” activities, the kid kept saying over and over “I don’t want this.” “I don’t need this.” “I am uncomfortable being the center of attention.” “I am shy.” But the mother didn’t hear a word of it. She just kept pushing and pushing and more, more, more. So, out of respect for the kid’s wishes, I bailed. I switched off, hugged my kid and did the dinner dishes.
It was, after all, the maid’s night off.