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Life Lessons from a Cartoon Dog

Mainstream media teaches kids some good things too, writes Shakti Swaminathan

Published: 19th August 2015 04:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2015 04:51 AM   |  A+A-

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It was my third unsuccessful attempt in the day to shut the clothes drawer. A woolen top was now wedged between two draws and was testing my patience. When I tugged at the cloth with one hand, the other tops were spilling out on the floor. “I am sick of this draw,” I announced. “High time we stop buying clothes.”

My little niece, who was doodling with her crayons quietly, looked up bewildered, wondering why I was spewing poison at her clothes. With pretty strawberries and caricatures of Hello Kitty and Mini Mouse, the clothes were in fact cute.

“Are you irritated, aunty?” she asked.

“Look at this mess,” I yelled in affirmation. 

“If you are irritated, just stop. Breathe. And then think,“ she commented, rather nonchalantly. I was stumped. Say hello to my four-year-old niece, Dia. She went back to colouring the ladybird.

“What does that mean, Dia?” I quizzed her, secretly hoping that it was just something she heard in passing and was not aware of the gravity of what she was saying.

“It means you stop cleaning the drawer. You take a few deep breaths and then think about it.“ It couldn’t have been more succinct. The draw was now fully open with most of its contents lying on the floor. But I had more important things to attend to than a draw to deal with. My LKG-going niece who still sits on her mothers lap to drink milk form a sippy cup was giving me life lessons.

“That’s good advice, I will follow it,” I retorted. “But will you do the same the next time you get angry with amma or appa?” I asked. I was pushing the envelope.

Dia’s tantrums were getting commonplace and she was aware of it herself. “Sure,“ she said, confidently. “Make a note of it on your cell phone and tell me the next time I get angry,” she quipped, gesticulating at my indispensable smartphone.

Later that evening, I cajoled her into telling me that she had heard it on TV, on a show called Blue’s Clues on Nickelodeon. In it, a big dog called Blue, with the help of his master Steve, finds solutions for everyday problems. The other day, she used the word ‘humongous’ to describe the pile of books lying on my table and the day before, she pointed at the ‘Cummulo Nimbus’ clouds while peeping out of the car window. Pepe the pig had told her that.

It is true that the adorable Tom and Jerry has a lot of violent content and the infamous Chotta Bheem perpetrates gender stereotypes. But sometimes children do seem to pick the right things from their seemingly superficial cartoon shows. Here was a vital piece of philosophy that Dia had not only picked up and absorbed but also learnt to apply at the opportune moment. I am sure I would have failed miserably had I been asked to use Zen to correct her shenanigans!

The current fixation for many girls like Dia is Elsa, the snow queen from Disney’s latest blockbuster Frozen. Apart from the hit song Let it go, the film has also given many young girls a perfect role model. Elsa is the stereotypical princess with a shimmering and enviable blue dress, long hair and pretty face but she is also fiercely independent, with a mind of her own. Instead of flitting around for the euphoria over first love and the perfect kiss from Prince Charming, she finds that true love exists outside romance, that for her, it resides in her baby sister.

Perhaps it’s good for health to look at media in a positive light sometimes. Why go after yogic gurus when we can sit back in our lazy boys and learn how to stop. Think. And Breathe.



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