Sophia woke me before yellow clock on Friday. Thanks to the plugs I screw into my ear canals each night, I never heard her open the door.
“Mommy!” came a scream, penetrating my deep dream.
I shot up in bed, ready to attack the intruder.
My eyes focused on the spritely form leaning over me, and I realized my intruder was Sophia.
Then I really went ballistic. “Sophia, go back to bed and do not come back in here until your clock turns yellow.” I growled.
“But, Mommy I’m in so much pain. It’s my loose tooth.”
(This is the part where I sound completely heartless.) “You’re fine. Go downstairs. Get a book and read until I call you. You do not wake me before yellow clock unless you are bleeding or dying.”
“But, I’m dying of pain.”
She left. Of course, she was fine. It was simply a ploy, one of many, to get my attention.
That night, I made her swear up and down that she would not wake me until her clock turned yellow at 7:15 (which I surreptitiously set for 7:25).
So the next day, when I woke naturally at 7:55 and realized that she had let me sleep in, I was ready to bake her a cake.
I found her downstairs on the couch, engrossed in a book.
“Sophia! Thank you for letting me sleep in this morning!” I smothered her with kisses.
She did not look up from her book. “You’re welcome mommy.”
“I have to go to the post office this morning, but other than that, I’m all yours. What would you like to do?” I was up for anything in my grateful state.
“After I finish this chapter, can we watch Jessie?”
“Jessie?” I had never heard of it.
“Yeah. Emma told me to watch it. Emma LOVES Jessie.” Emma is one of Sophie’s good friends from nursery school. She’s a few steps ahead of Soph on the cool curve. She shops at Justice, draws Peace signs, and knows all the words to We Are Never Getting Back Together.
Emma has older siblings. Much older siblings.
The other girls are attracted to her like drones to their queen. I watch at parties as all the other girls vie to sit next to her. How, on the playground, they follow her lead. Though, typically, Sophie defers to no one, Emma is the exception. Emma sets the standard.
“Well….” I struggle with wanting Sophie to have the equipment to navigate the complex social world of girls, and fearing that the content is way too mature for Sophie to be watching.
“Please, please, please, Mommy! It’s on the Disney Channel.” I had paused and she saw the crack in my resolve. I know nothing of the shows on the Disney Channel. But I assume Disney sanitizes its content to maintain its bleachy-clean image.
“Well. Okay. We’ll watch it together for a few minutes, and then I’ll make a decision about whether I think it’s okay.”
“I know mom. We’ll watch it for fifteen minutes, and then we can go to the post office, because you said you need to go.” She’s slick, this one. She was already negotiating for more time.
“A few minutes. Then, we’ll see.”
We headed up to the attic (where I hide the television—out of sight, out of mind) to watch Jessie. During the first 10 minutes, I tried to figure out the premise of the show. The opening scene is of Jesse writing in her diary. It seems that Jessie is a nanny for multiple children of different ethnicities. Their mother is a fashion model, and their father is a movie director. They all live in what appears to be a mansion on Park Avenue. It’s Different Strokes meets Brangelina. Suddenly the scene switches to a middle school, where two mean girls—one is the eldest child of the Park Avenue clan—exchange slights. I don’t like the way they’re talking to the other. In another scene, one of the children calls someone a “nimrod.” This disturbs me, though I realize that I don’t know what the word means. I know it’s meant to be an insult, and it sounds dirty, but I’m not sure how bad it is. I make a mental note to look it up. The central problem, neatly tied up in the 22-minute episode, is that one of Jessie’s charges is caught reading her diary. Jessie then sets out to teach her a lesson about respecting the privacy of others.
Sophie is rapt, staring at the screen with great concentration, but she only laughs at the slapstick, physical comedy.
We wind up watching the whole thing, because, I’m not sure what to make of it. When it is over, I try to ascertain what she has understood. “Soph, what did you think this show was about?”
“Jessie writes in her diary and the other girl thinks she’s an alien and drinks from her finger.” All of this happened, but there was a little more to it than that.
“Who is Jessie?”
“She’s their older sister. She’s a teenager.”
“Actually, Soph, I think she’s their nanny. Kinda like their babysitter.”
“No! She’s not!” Sophie is indignant.
“I thought I heard a bad word used in the show.” I say, changing the subject.
“Which one?” she asks excitedly.
“Did you hear a bad word?” I wanted to know if she picked up on it, by tone alone.
“Good.” I explain what I can of the plot to Sophie. She eyes me skeptically. As if I might be making it all up.
Later on I look up Jessie on the Internet. I’m dismayed to learn on Common Sense Media, that, based on 43 parent reviews, 42% of parents say sexual content is an issue, 26% of parents say language is an issue, and overall it received a “caution” designation FOR CHILDREN AGE 12.
Either Common Sense Media is one uptight group of parents, or I am so pop culturally challenged, I have no sense of what’s written for whom. I’m thinking it’s the latter.
Nimrod, by the way, is actually a biblical reference. He was a mighty hunter who was the founder of Babylon. It’s genesis as an insult was actually based on the misinterpretation of its use in Bugs Bunny. Apparently Bugs once referred to Elmer Fudd, as a “poor little nimrod [hunter],” but the viewing audience, not aware of the Biblical reference, assumed it meant “slow witted,” and appropriated it accordingly.
From now on, I’m not taking media advice from Emma’s older siblings. I’m vetting any new shows Sophie expresses and interest in.
I will be the Nimrod of Age-Appropriate television
Or is that what I am already?