I've sat through too many episodes of Caillou to ever have 100% faith in humanity ever again. I'm not alone. Every parent hates Caillou. If you don't, please don't ever speak to me again. Seriously, we cannot be friends. I'd have an easier time getting over you being a founding member of the Tea Party who feeds puppies to sharks than getting over you slightly enjoying Caillou. He's an awful animated human being. But I'm not here to talk about him whining, or being bald, or never ever getting into an actual fight with his sister, or even MAWW-MMEEEEE! I'm here to talk about his dad.
I've seen just about every episode of this animated portal to hell. And around the fifth or sixth A Clockwork Orange moment I started to realize that Caillou's mom and dad might be dressed poorly, but they are supposed to be modeling good parenting. Not only are my kids supposed to be learning about sharing, caring, and whining, but I'm supposed to be learning how to parent from these two pieces of shit!
I'm sorry. I lost my temper.
You know who never loses his temper? That asshole over there in the red shoes.
Okay, fine. Caillou's dad is calm in every situation. Thanks for rubbing it in. I'll try harder next time my kid wipes his sister's shit on the wall to keep it together. But you know what? That's bullshit. No parent is calm in every situation. My mother smashed an ice cream cone on my head at an amusement park when I was 4 years old. And you know what? I probably deserved it. And you know what else? I totally get it now. The only thing that's stopping me from doing the same thing to my kids is that I'm too cheap to waste the ice cream.
Being patient and calm is a good thing. But it isn't a 24/7 thing. And it shouldn't be. If everything your kid does elicits the same "aw shucks" response, then how do they ever know right from wrong? How will they ever effectively push my buttons as teenagers if they don't discover my weaknesses now? Seriously though, no one has ever been legitimately upset with Caillou. How is that good parenting? Somebody is going to explode on that kid (if we assume he's an actual human being for a minute) and he's going to have no coping skills. His world is too perfect. That might be the reality in a poorly animated Canadian universe, but that's not my world.
Look, we all try to put our kids in the best possible situations. I'm not advocating dropping off your 4 year old in the middle of the woods at midnight and telling them to find their way back. But there is a difference between not giving your kid tools to succeed and setting them up for success. By avoiding confrontation, disappointment, and anger, Caillou's dad is keeping his soul-sucking son from developing tools he'll need later in his hypothetical life. By allowing my kids to infuriate me I'm setting them up for success....right?
Never-mind the fact Caillou actually listens to his dad. What kind of modeling world is that? My kids hardly ever listen to me. Rosie and Caillou get into a fight and all the guy has to say is, "Fighting is wrong." and the two kids are hugging each other and writing heart felt apologies. This is more of a sham than the UN...I mean the model UN. When my kids are fighting it doesn't matter what I say (I literally just asked them if they were fighting or playing. "Um, playing?"). That fight is not over. And you know what? That's a good thing...not all the time and certainly not for my blood pressure, but they need to learn how to deal with difficult situations. Not everyone is going to be nice to them. Not everyone is going to treat them fairly. They need to learn when (and how) to stand up for themselves and when to let something go.
What fun would parenting be if your kids did everything you said? Screw Caillou's dad and his perfect world. Imperfection makes you truly appreciate those rare moments when your kids stop smearing feces on the wall and actually listen to you.
Matt Fotis is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Albright College. He is the author of Long Form Improvisation and American Comedy - The Harold, The Comedy Improv Handbook, and "My Fragile Family Tree: Stories of Fathers & Sons."