In an odd moment during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, when the Dora the Explorer balloon floated by, The Daughter voiced her strenuous dislike of Dora. This took me by surprise, because time was – and not too long ago, either – when The Daughter liked Dora a great deal. But now? Not so much. She insists that Dora is for babies and she’s not a baby, so no Dora for her anymore, thank you very much.
But she still likes watching Caillou, whose appeal is, I think, even more limited than Dora’s.
For those who haven’t seen Caillou, he’s a four-year-old boy who lives with his parents and his toddler sister somewhere in pseudo-urban Canada, where he basically does all the normal stuff a four-year-old kid does. He plays with his toys, he gets upset when he’s left home with a babysitter but ends up having fun, he pouts about doing chores until his Mommy finds a way to make it fun, he helps Daddy wash the car (which consists of sitting inside it pretending to drive while Daddy does the work). Now, I personally don’t find Caillou all that objectionable, but I know that a lot of folks find him unbearably whiny, which I can certainly understand. I like that the show’s not grounded in any kind of fantasy or magical make-believe at all (although no explanation is ever offered as to just why if is that Caillou is as bald as a stone whilst every other member of his family has a nice thick head of hair). It does get annoying that every problem this family ever has is so easily defused and that the parents always know exactly how to fix any conflict or say the right thing or whatever.
Anyway, last time I was in the room whilst Caillou was on TV, I thought it would be funny if everyone in the Caillou-verse aged except Caillou himself. Imagine Caillou as an eternal four-year-old, reacting to stuff!
Daddy walks in. His ever-present green sweater is ripped at the hem and has some spots of brown goo on it. Daddy’s face is slightly green, his cheeks sport three days’ growth of beard, and his eyes are bloodshot.
CAILLOU: Mommy, Daddy’s home! Where have you been, Daddy? It’s Friday and you haven’t been home since Tuesday.
DADDY: Ooooooggg… (runs into bathroom)
CAILLOU: Daddy, you don’t look so good.
MOMMY: Maybe you should leave Daddy alone, Caillou. Maybe tomorrow when he feels better you can help him look for a new job by cutting out some of the want-ads for him!
CAILLOU: Was Daddy fired, Mommy?
MOMMY: Sometimes bosses and employees don’t agree on things, Caillou. And sometimes bosses are skinflint bastards who only care about the bottom line.
CAILLOU: Mommy, you told me not to call people ‘bastards’.
MOMMY: Yes, I’m sorry, Caillou. Hey! Can you come downstairs and help me bake some cookies?
CAILLOU: OK Mommy!
Caillou runs downstairs. Meanwhile, the sounds of retching come from the bathroom.
Caillou knocks softly on Rosie’s door. Rosie, now a teenager, is putting the finishing touches on her Goth outfit, dabbing black lipstick on her lips and getting the chain around her neck just the right tightness.
CAILLOU: Rosie? I can’t sleep!
ROSIE: Go talk to Mom, Caillou. I’m busy.
CAILLOU: I knocked on their door, but Mommy’s moaning a lot and Daddy threw a shoe at the door.
ROSIE: Well, maybe you should leave them alone, Caillou. Adults like to be alone sometimes.
CAILLOU: Not Mommy! She loves me. We’re going to bake cookies later!
ROSIE: Yeah…well, why don’t you go down to the kitchen and start getting the stuff for cookies ready? That way it’ll all be out when Mommy gets up to get a glass of water in about fifteen minutes.
CAILLOU: Okay Rosie! Are you sure it will be fifteen minutes?
ROSIE: That’s usually how long it takes them.
Caillou runs out, singing something about cookie baking with Mommy. Rosie shakes her head, puts own her black leather jacket, opens her window, and jumps over to the oak tree that’s her usual means of nocturnal escape.
Mommy and Daddy are in the kitchen. Mommy is doing dishes, while Daddy reads the paper, smokes a cigarette, and drinks coffee. Caillou can be heard offscreen, calling the cat.
CAILLOU: Gilbert! Gilbert! Come out wherever you are!
Caillou comes into the kitchen. Daddy quickly stubs out his cigarette and stuffs the butt into his pocket.
DADDY: Uh, hi there, Caillou!
CAILLOU: Hi Daddy. Wow, it always smells smoky in the morning in here.
MOMMY: That’s the garbage disposal, Caillou! The motor is breaking. I keep telling Daddy to get a new one.
DADDY: Yeah, but I just like that smell so much!
CAILLOU: I can’t find Gilbert anywhere!
DADDY: Really? He was just here. I think he went that way! (points to living room)
CAILLOU: Here I come, Gilbert!
Certain that he’s on the trail for sure this time, Caillou goes running out of the room.
CAILLOU: Come out wherever you are, Gilbert!
MOMMY: You know, most families tell their kids some lie about the cat going to live on a farm or a petting zoo.
DADDY: (pulls out his cigarette butt) Just shut up and get me another match, will you?
The living room in Caillou’s house. Lots of people are around. Everyone’s wearing black, except for Caillou, who’s in that eternal yellow shirt of his. Everyone’s crying too, except Caillou.
CAILLOU: I didn’t know they made boxes big enough for people, Grandma!
Grandma pretty much ignores Caillou completely.
CAILLOU: Will you need help pushing Grandpa’s box upstairs, Grandma? He’s pretty fat, you know.
Some guy we’ve never seen before, a long-haired guy who has paired a black suit with a tie-dyed necktie, appears beside Caillou and steers him away from Grandma.
UNCLE TIMMIE: Hey, little dude! Why don’tcha come outside with me, eh?
CAILLOU: Okay, Uncle Timmie!
Caillou follows Timmie to the kitchen, where they find Mommy and Daddy, who are standing over by the fridge in very close proximity to one another.
MOMMY: My, darling! You haven’t been like this in six days!
DADDY: You should wear black more often, dear! It makes your chest look so–
TIMMIE: (loudly) Oh, well, we’d better go outside, Caillou!
MOMMY: Oh Caillou! Yeah. Go outside. We’ll be out ourselves in a while. First we have some stuff to do upstairs.
MOMMY: Hee hee hee….
Caillou follows Timmie outside.
DADDY: Should Caillou spend so much time with Timmie?
MOMMY: Forget Caillou for once! I’m so sick of baking cookies with that kid!
Outside, Timmie sits down on the stoop with Caillou.
TIMMIE: Say, none of the people in there are cops, are they?
CAILLOU: No. Why, Uncle Timmie?
TIMMIE: Oh, nothing. Here, hold Uncle Timmie’s flask for a few minutes. (hands Caillou his whiskey flask) Oh, and hold this too.
CAILLOU: (takes a ziploc bag from Timmie) This looks like what Mommy puts in the lasagna.
TIMMIE: Ha! Well, this stuff wouldn’t taste too good in lasagna, Caillou! But it sure makes for some great brownies!
CAILLOU: Brownies? I love brownies!
TIMMIE: Me too, kid!
CAILLOU: Did you bake brownies with this stuff with Grandpa?
TIMMIE: (laughing) One time, yeah. He kicked me out of the house after that.
CAILLOU: He did?
TIMMIT: Uh-huh. Say, why don’t you show Uncle Timmie where Mommy keeps her baking supplies? I’ll let you lick the beaters when I’m done mixing the batter!
(I know, I know…the subject of this post is sure to come up when I’m sitting down for my one-on-one Life Performance Review with Saint Peter.)