An Open Letter to Dora The Explorer
I think you’re cute. I do. That hair gets me every time. Like a dead cat draped over your big round head.
I like the way you’ve taught Lucy to count to 10 in Spanish even though I had no idea where she learned Spanish, so when she just started counting things one day…uno, dos, tres…I thought she was some kind of savant and I had momentary delusions that my child was a genius. Then, I remembered it must be your show - you make it hard for me to hate your squeaky little voice when you do nice things like that.
I like that you always have everything you need right there in your backpack. Need a canoe to get across the Raging Rapids? Check the backpack. Need an umbrella because Hannah Hurricane is ready to blow? Check the backpack. Need a noose to hang yourself because your TV show is so nauseating? I bet you got one of those, too.
I kind of like Swiper, too He can be a mean little bastard - trying to swipe your friendship ring or make it impossible for you to get to the chocolate tree – but I enjoy dropping whatever unimportant thing I’m doing so I can run into the other room and scream “Swiper No Swiping” at the TV set, because Lucy is convinced that it is my all-powerful voice that gets Swiper to stop his misbehaving.
This is usually not a problem unless Swiper decides to swipe something right at the moment I'm going to the bathrom and I have to run from the other room with my pants down around my ankles, hobbling through the house with Edie hanging off my boob and toilet paper stuck to my shoe. But although not pretty, I always get there in time to scream “Swiper No Swiping” and he actually obeys me. I'm a mess, but a powerful mess.
I have to be honest. There are a few things that really piss me off about you, Dora. I hate that your chubby little face is on every toy imaginable. I hate that all those toys are right on the shelf at eye level with my kid’s eyeballs. Really, it’s uncanny. No matter where my daughter’s turn their heads, you are right in front of them. On shoes. On little plastic cash registers. On games. On battery-operated bubble machines. They cannot escape you.
There may have been a day when Lucy decided that you weren’t cool anymore and she wanted to move on to other toys, but up against your corporate-sponsored-peer-pressure-machine, she couldn’t do it. She wasn’t strong enough because THERE ARE NO TOYS OUT THERE WITHOUT YOUR PICTURE ON IT.
(Okay, there are a bazillion Barbie toys out there, but fortunately they are on a higher shelf, one directly in line with a 10 year old’s eyeballs and so this is of no concern to us yet. I'll write something special to Miss Barbie a decade from now.)
You should know, Dora, we are much poorer because of you. In the last 2 years and 10 months we have never left any store anywhere in this city without purchasing some toy with your big head on it. And you are sooooo smart because many of your toys are inexpensive and you think, “Well, what could it hurt?...She really wants it and it’s only $3.99”
Or we're in the back of a long line at the check out at Pathmark and I know the Dora bubblebath bottle will keep them occupied and since we have 2 kids, it’s not just $3.99, it’s more like $8.00 and so they both get one and it does, in fact, keep them happy while we are waiting in line, but then we get to the register and I realize we have to pay out the $8 and add that to the 5 days of $8 we've been shelling out. And I realize we are approaching $100 in little tiny, crappy plastic toys that have been made in China and are covered in lead-based paint that we purchased over the last 2 weeks and are now rotting at the bottom of the toy bin. By the time I do the math on the whole 2 years and 10 months, I'm shitting myself.
And I wish I could have all that money back and maybe go to Paris with my husband for lunch or send the kids to some horribly pretentious private school or just stare at our bank statement and relish all that extra cash in our bank account or something or anything, except have 20,000 plastic, broken, forgotten Doras in our house.
And that's when the desire to smother the life out of you starts to set in.
(Note to our friends who mean well but don't have kids and don't know what to buy kids and are hell-bent on buying them something with Dora on it - Don’t do it. Just don’t. Step away from the Dora. Put down your Visa card. Walk away...Good...Feel good that you just saved our friendship.)
Really, Dora, you have to take your mantel of power more seriously. You are influential, like the president or something, I know this because the only word Edie will say besides "Mama" is “Dora”, which she says perfectly and clearly and this is funny because that is the only word she says except for “Mama” (but when she says “Mama”, she means me, David, Lucy, the concierge, the homeless man on the corner, the guy at Starbucks with the beard, anybody in earshot).
But not you Dora – you are so influential you have your own name. When she sees you, she is drawn to you as if in a trance and this child with the attention span of a lizard will be mesmerized by you for a half hour with her nose pressed up against the TV. And in her catatonic state, I hear her, the TV smeared with snot, saying “Dora…Dora” over and over and pointing to the TV all proud and excited. And I smile at her so happy for her accomplishment but I’m also gritting my teeth wondering how I can squeeze the dear life out of you and then, dance on your lifeless body, singing “We did it! We did it! We really really did it? Lo hicimos!...”
Still, I know even that won't keep you down for long. Fortunately we are moving out of the Dora stage and into the…Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) stage.
I have a letter for her, too.
This post would've been up much sooner, but Lucy just bounced into the room and mesmerized by Dora's face, made me scroll up and down, looking at each of the Dora images and pointing out Swiper and all the things Swiper does and letting me know she would like the party set for Christmas and then, we had to keep doing it over and over and examining in detail each of the images and deciding on more Dora things we'd like for Christmas, before she finally told me this was her favorite of all my blogs, which means she prefers to look at pictures of Dora rather than pictures of herself and her sister...and then, her head nearly exploded with pleasure when I added the picture of Princess Aurora, because she luuuuurves Princess Aurora and carries a little figure of her around and dresses her in the pink princess dress and undresses her and puts her in the blue princess nightgown and undresses her and then, starts the whole thing all over again. By last count, we've read and re-read this post about 20 times...with no sign of letting up. Splendid.