Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dora the Exploited

Sometimes I can't believe what parents get upset about these days. Like the fact that Dora the Explorer (the fun, Spanish speaking, monkey loving little adventurer) is getting a new modern makeover to appeal to today's tweens. Parents have actually started a petition against this! I find this hysterical since a great many parents can't find time to petition for say ... better education... but they can find time to rag on a toy company for expanding its fan base to include girls a bit older than those learning how to count beyond ten?

Now, I am the parent of a tween and I think it's great that they are trying to keep Dora alive for those beyond diapers, goldfish and sticky fingers. After all, she's wholesome, super intelligent, bi-lingual, resourceful, adventurous and kind-hearted. What tween in today's society doesn't need a role model like that? Especially when current role models include the likes of Lohan, Spears and a gaggle of Disney princesses gone bad (and nude!)

Yet over-zealous parents are freaking out... from what I've read you would think Mattel is making the new Dora into a tramp (a la Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or any number of inappropriate examples as mentioned above.) I've read the articles and seen the picture of the new Dora. She has longer hair, bigger accessories and - gasp!- a skirt...with leggings. She is sweet looking and current and relevant what if she ditched those orange boy shorts and bad hair cut for a stylish little makeover?

The thing is, Mattel is still keeping the old Dora around for the preschool crowd, so it's not like they are replacing that Dora with the new one, forcing young kids to only get their Dora fix with this new sassy, pre-pubescent Dora. They are catering to both age groups, separately.

The new Dora is a far cry from one of those freakin' BRAT dolls (with the vampy eyes, Victoria Secret model hair and curves Hef's Girls Next Door would envy)and I have to say, don't we all have bigger fish to fry right now?

In fact, if you are so worried about your tween and this whole Dora thing, shut off the TV, take away the iPod and take her for a walk... go exploring. That's what Dora would do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jingle All The Way

You know when you get a jingle in your head - a song or a bit from radio or TV - and you can't get it out? Like there's this one on the local radio here....a little commercial song that goes something like this... "Christy Smith, helping people on the move. Christy Smith, helping people on the move. Christy Smith, helping...*pause for dramatic effect here*...people on the move." I have no idea who she is, there clearly wasn't much thought put into the lyrics, but every time it comes on, my daughter says "Oh turn it up!" as if it were her favorite song. (Of course, this is the same daughter who insists we need a swiffer, a snuggie and that I need the dual lash spinner to get rid of clumps in my mascara. Clearly, she is easily swayed.) But, I digress. Christy Smith, when I move, I will remember that you help people in that situation.

Just this morning when I was waking up my daughter, I said "Get up, I hit snooze and now you need to bust a move!" The rest of the morning, I've been stuck with the same line in my head... "If you want it, baby you've got it....just bust a move." Now, honestly, I can't tell you the last time I actually heard that Young M.C. song. YEARS. But, there it was playing over and over in my head. ("This here's a tell for all the fellas, try to do what those ladies tell us....")

And I guess it never goes away...those lyrics and jingles get engraved in our brains and pop out at random times. It's like Whack-a-Mole...that crazy game with the psychotic mole that pops out of the holes: you never know when or where he'll pop up next before you have to thump him on the head with that crazy hammer-like instrument. (I have to admit there is something quite satisfying about thumping that annoying little weasel!)

But my point is, these song lyrics and jingles stay with us... one day at the nursing home when I was having dinner with my dad, there was an old lady at the table with us. She was in a wheelchair, curled up into herself like a puppy dog tail. Her head was bowed, her eyes were closed, her face grimaced as if she were in perpetual pain. Her food sat untouched in front of her. It was hard to tell if she was asleep or if this was her common state of lethargy, just waiting for it all to be over.

My daughter went over to the piano in the dining room at this point. It was just after Christmas and she had been rehearsing for her recital. She began to play "Jingle Bells" and the sweetest thing happened. The lady with her eyes closed, seemingly unconscious, began to move her lips ... "Jingle Bells...Jingle Bells...Jingle all the way..." She mouthed the words right along while Anna played. When Anna stopped, she stopped. When Anna picked up again, the woman picked right back up with her. She never missed a beat, never missed a word. She never opened her eyes but the music moved her.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I was sad to read that broadcasting pioneer and one of my all-time favs Paul Harvey has died. I mean, he was 90 and had a long, amazing life. But, still, it's a huge loss felt by his millions of fans including me. To think we'll never hear these words LIVE over the radio again "....and that is the rest of the story."

He was legendary and he narrated many walks for me between my dorm room and classes at Purdue University. No matter how cold it was trudging across campus; no matter how tired I was; no matter how I didn't want to go to class; he always made me smile with his "The Rest of the Story." It felt like he was my grandpa, encouraging me softly, indirectly by other people's stories, emphasizing why it's important to see the best in me, in my story, letting us know we are all human and in this together. His voice broadcast softly, encouragingly in my ear many cold, lonely mornings.

Whether you are familiar with him or not, take a minute and read a little about this legendary broadcaster's story: