My 4-year old has made a stand.
“I don’t sleep in the daytime,” he declares every day when I announce it’s time for nap. I protest, but he will not be dissuaded. He’s not nocturnal, he informs me, testing out one of his new words to semi-success. How can I argue?
I’ve struggled to hold on to his nap time. As a work-at-home mom it’s one of the few quiet times during the day I can get something done, so it’s been hard to watch it slip away. I tried to force a few naps. But he’d either lay in bed wide awake for an hour, or fall asleep out of sheer boredom and, consequently, be All Systems Go until midnight.
He was right. He was done with naps. RIP Naps. You will be missed.
But, here’s the thing: I still need the time to work. So I’ve been letting him chill in front of the boob tube (I know, I know. For shame!) while his sister naps. Enter: Netflix.
I’m not a parent who shies away from letting my kids watch television. In fact, I’m grateful to our television. There’s no way I’d be able to work from home and take care of a two and four-year old without its powers to transfix my tots while I’m Leaning In. But lately, I’ve been transfixed, too, It all started when my son chose to watch an Inspector Gadget reboot. Remember, him? The bumbling detective with the high-tech trench coat? He’s back, baby! Even though this was Inspector Gadget 2.0, I still had a flashback of sitting in my Grandma’s living room watching Nickelodeon and eating Skittles out of an orange plastic measuring cup.
I loved the nostalgia of it! So we started exploring Netflix for some authentic retro 80s and 90s television programming that we can enjoy together. Here is a list of my top ten picks.
1. The Magic School Bus. Remember Ms. Frizzle and the Gang? Netflix has all four seasons from the early 90s. At 33, I’m a little too old to have enjoyed this as a kid, but I certainly remember my younger brother and sister watching it. And it’s educational, too! Check out the books to go with the companion show – they are great non-fiction reading for the preschool set!
2. The Mouse and the Motorcycle. This short film (40 minutes) is based on the beloved book of the same name by Beverly Cleary. Ralph, a hotel-dwelling mouse, takes a guest’s toy motorcycle out for a ride. Great watch and read! Netflix also has adaptations of Ralph S. Mouse and Runaway Ralph.
3. Danger Mouse. Relive all your favorite moments with the super spy rodent and his silly sidekick. And guess what? Like Inspector Gadget, Danger Mouse is getting a reboot from Netflix. A newer, improved (is that possible?) version of Danger Mouse is coming to Netflix in 2016. Hope they never get a new theme song!
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Okay, this pick is definitely for older kids. (Jessica Rabbit is waaaaaay to sexy for the littles, right?) But I swear I watched this a billion times as a kid! Why don’t they do more human-cartoon mashups? OMG. I just had a flashback to Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract video. See!? The power of nostalgia at work, people!
5. Dinosaurs! I have a love-hate relationship whit this show. (Remember the obnoxious baby’s catch-phrase: NOT THE MAMA!) Nevertheless, I certainly had some good feels remembering huddling around the television for TGIF on ABC and watching the Sinclair family’s prehistoric hi-jinx. Dinosaurs! replaced Growing Pains in the TGIF line up, so maybe I was just watching it to fill the empty space in my heart left by Mike Seaver. Either way, it’s certainly a family-friendly throwback, and highly rated by my dino-loving son!
6. Saved by the Bell. I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so… still excited! I LOVED Saved by the Bell. No need to pop any uppers to get you hyped up for this classic. This pick may or may apply to me, because I may or may not own a DVD box set of all the seasons of SBTB – including the Tori year. But, whatever. Share it with your tweens. Acid wash is coming back, the iPhone 6 Plus is almost as big as Zack’s handheld, and, except in a few progressive states, There’s [still] No Hope with Dope – it’ll be totally relevant!
7. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Let us not focus on the creep factor of an adult man-child luring children into his playhouse week after week. It’s got Chairy! And Pterri! Magic Screen! That freaky little bastard puppet Randy! And, jeez, did you know Cowboy Curtis was played by Laurence Fishburne?! He’s really done well for himself. Netflix is missing the amazing film Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (directed by Tim Burton. Who knew?!). But the series is enough to give you a Pee Wee fix. Possible Side Effect: Kids running around the house doing the Pee Wee laugh.
8. Jem and the Holograms. Did you have a Jem doll? I had one and it was about two inches taller and more anatomically correct than all of my Barbies. So what did I do? I always made her be the big fat MOM? Sheesh. Thanks societal brainwashing of impossible body standards! If you’re familiar with Jem, you know she was like a techno-version of Hannah Montana before Hannah Montana was a thing. Plus, if you really want to give your kids a taste of the 80s, the musical and fashion stylings of Jem are about as horrifically, deliciously eighties as you can get.
9. G.I. Joe. This was one I didn’t watch, but my brother was totally obsessed with. He had all the action figures and a G.I. Joe sleeping bag – which I was once forced to take on a Girl Scout camping trip when my Shera bag was tragically misplaced. I turned it inside out, but I wasn’t fooling anyway. All the other girls had NKOTB or something cool, plus it smelled like farts. Totally traumatic. Either way, I put it on the list because stinky, cootie-infested boys would probably love it.
10. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. To deprive your kids of this PG comedy starring a young, mullet-ed Keanu Reeves would be totally bogus, dude. Bill and Ted are in danger of heinously flunking their history exam, so [enter complicated plot details I can’t quite remember here] a time machine transports them through history and brings back some impressive historians to help them with the project. Abraham Lincoln? Genghis Khan? Socrates? Napoleon? It’s a totally bodacious learning opportunity, dude. PARTY ON with this excellent example of 80s kitsch at its finest.
Have you uncovered any other childhood gems on Netflix? Tell us about them in the comments!