Monday, March 3, 2014

Embarassing Confession

I came to a realization this morning when Ben asked to watch "Choo Choos" and I discovered new weekly episode in the DVR list.  I was excited for a new episode of Thomas.  I LIKE THOMAS.  I would prefer to watch many other shows  and movies but when it comes to children's programming that Ben enjoys, I find it to be minimally annoying and I kind of like it.  WHOAH. 

"Thomas and Friends" is generally slow, mellow and repetitive which is a good thing to show a little kid as opposed to something frantic, loud and flashy.  It is similar to Sesame Street in that way.  Also, the engines and all their buddies from the "Island of Sodor" are just pretty cute and nice.  They value hard work and also good clean fun.  I think my favorite is the helicopter (or as Ben says, 'Hel-cha-cha) up there, Harold, and also the engine named Henry. 

Henry is a down to earth and nice engine, unlike Percy and Thomas, who are very nice but a bit too silly and immature sometimes and Gordon, who can be an arrogant windbag because he is the biggest and strongest and pulls the express and not some crummy branch line or mail cars or something. 

Gordon is always giving the "side eye" or rolling his eyes or groaning about something.  He usually learns a lesson though and everyone still loves him. 

Ben also has taken interest in the 2006 movie "Cars" and I happen to really enjoy it as well  It is cute and full of lessons about the importance of true friends and humility and how someone can be a success in life even if they don't always win.  I guess we chose to show it to him, and can't be surprised that he wants to see it all the time since every little boy I know who has been of an appropriate age since 2006 has loved the movie and corresponding merchandise.  You can find "McQueen" on anything that a boy might use, from dishes to underwear to bubble bath.  Speaking of that, Ben's training toothpaste has Thomas on it.  So do his bed sheets. Way to market, geniuses.  As with so many other successful things, I wish I thought of that!

Maybe I like these "boy" characters because as a little kid I liked some traditionally "boy" things.  I would not categorize myself as a tomboy because I loved Barbies and My Little Ponies and Disney princess movies and did not care one bit about sports but I also did really like LEGOS (before there were sets marketed to girls) and airplanes.  One of my most memorable birthday gifts was a LEGO set that built an ambulance airplane.  There was one occasion where my sister and I were given a quarter for a junk vending machine and her plastic capsule contained a little green rubber airplane and mine contained some other stupid toy that I don't remember but it was orange.  Somehow my mom cajoled her into trading with me by pointing out that my toy was orange (her favorite color).  I still have that little rubber plane stashed in a jewelry box.  It's so cute to see what kids like.  Sometimes they like it through being purposely exposed to it.  But sometimes they just start liking it on their own like me and the airplanes or Ben and trains.  He started liking "choo choos on his own before I got around to showing them to him.  I think he must have learned about them at the Y.  I didn't start showing him episodes of "Thomas" until after he started talking about them and pointing them out in books and arranging other toys in a line like a train.  I don't remember how he first saw tractors but it was inevitable since both Justin and I grew up around agriculture and as far as machines go you can't get much tougher and more impressive than farm machinery!  I suppose he saw the real thing and played with my brother's and Justin's old toys and soon received his own and was hooked.  Then he started reading the farm machinery classifieds! 

OK, I need to go watch something very adult oriented, like Sex and the City or the History Channel series "Vikings" that just started it's second season.  Now Viking is a pretty great show.  Since my ethnicity is 100% Scandinavian (mostly Norwegian and some Swedish) and I have seen the beautiful mountains and fjords where the show is filmed in person I find this show interesting.  The show depicts the ancient Scandinavians as huge, strong, and beautiful (and also violent pagans who sacrifice animals and sometimes humans to please the gods and have some pretty liberal definitions of committed relationships!)  It takes place sometime in the year 800 and the main character is Ragnar, who may be a real historical figure or may be a composite of a few legendary Vikings whose stories have all blended together in the legends and sagas.  Whoever he was, it is fun to imagine my ancestors as these types of people:

This is the wife of Ragnar and a main character, but there are often women included in combat scenes which is pretty sweet.  I am certain that a female of ancestor of mine had to have been just like Ms. Lagertha here!  That is an aspect of Scandinavian history that I think is really fascinating.  Women were not treated as though they were weak or inferior to men and only needed for having babies and cooking for men.  As we know, that was not the case with most cultures. 

When I research and read about people throughout history, including the Viking days and also the medieval days of the Bubonic Plague and the general difficult and dangerous centuries, I am fascinated and proud that those who came before me were strong and fit enough to survive and reproduce.  Just surviving birth and infancy was an impressive feat and they stayed strong through the years and here we are at the end of the line with Ben and Tessa continuing so many family lines!  It is quite a thought to ponder if you watch "Vikings"!

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