Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Apparently my husband and children, that’s who.
And Spongebob Squarepants.
If you thought I didn’t understand ‘the Cougar thing,’ you can only imagine where I land on this one.
For those of you who don’t know, Spongebob is a cartoon sponge, like a kitchen sponge. Sort of. When I fact checked this with one son, he was dangerously close to chastising me: “No! He’s a sponge– all sponges are from the sea except spongecake which is totally different.” I imagine his IQ rolling backwards with every episode, like an old fashioned odometer, or those Kmart ‘roll back’ signs.
Spongebob has a job at the Krusty Krab as a fry cook. His best friend is Patrick, a starfish, and Spongebob serves as the nemesis of the sarcastic, and somewhat mean Squidward (who also works at the Krusty Krab).
I fought Spongebob’s presence in my home for years. I cringed at the sound of the theme song (which I can sing in Hebrew, incidentally. Don’t ask.) His voice? I’d take nails on a chalkboard any day.
Then I remembered the best way of ‘helping’ my kids like something less, is for me to like it more! When they got addicted to “Trivia Crack,” I joined. Crickets.
When they played Danza Kuduro constantly for a week, I downloaded and played it twice while making dinner and dancing to it, and I never heard it again. Ever.
Not even on the radio.
And, my secret weapon: when they are arguing on a car trip of any length, I start talking in a loud voice about human reproduction and I am guaranteed silence, it may be a horrified silence, but it’s still a quiet silence, and that’s all that matters. I can get two good hours of ‘frozen man’ quality silence from the mere mention of the human menstrual cycle.
I know what works, I just need to use it! Watch out Spongebob… here comes mama!!!
“Hey! Mom’s watching Spongebob! BEST DAY EVER!!!!”
Uh oh… not what I anticipated.
“Wait, you have to see the one where the writer of Spongebob drops his pencil and Spongebob makes another Spongebob and they fight and he says, ‘where’s the leak, ma’am’ and the wrench lands on his head!!!’”
The hilarity is building. Now they’re talking and laughing over each other which is not uncommon, “Remember when the aliens invaded Bikini Bottom and if mayonnaise touched them, they melted??!! And when Spongebob got the submarine and was delivering mobile Krusty Krab krabby patties, but burned them, and Plankton was trying to sell chum and people were mad at Plankton and they sold the burned krabby patties to throw at Plankton? And…” (they are literally unglued with laughter), “when Patrick says ‘Whoever is the owner of the white sedan, you left your lights on’ (with a tuba on his head)…”
I am defeated.
I ask, “Why? WHY do you like this annoying whiney Spongebob character so much? And how did Mr. Krabbs, a crab, father Pearl the WHALE?” Just saying that makes me uncomfortable.
One son, apparently spending all of the big words he’s been saving this academic year, replies, “Spongebob represents the whimsical nature of children and the joy they take in creative fantasy.”
I look at him accusingly over the rim of my reading glasses, and he bursts out laughing.
“You look like Squidward when you’re mad.” The look on my face makes him laugh harder and he says, “Don’t be a Krabby Patty!”
My husband, Jon says, “It’s classic comedy—there’s the idiot, the idiot’s friend and the sane guy who has to deal with them. That’s me. I’m that sane guy.” I am staring at him blankly, pretty much confirming his point.
“I love Patrick because he is stupid and hilarious,” says another son. I catch myself daydreaming about the separate entrance we’ll need to the basement apartment of our home, where I am convinced this son will live out the rest of his days with some (idiot) friends.
Resigned, I realize that this is what they will remember of their childhoods. Not the vacations we saved for, or the trips to the Guggenheim and times we played Apples to Apples as a family and the creative Passover seders, or when Jon read them the ENTIRE Harry Potter series at bedtime over a course of two full years… they’re going to remember the episodes of Spongebob they watched together.
And I just need to get over it.
Because even though I don’t get it, they do. If Spongebob is this much fun for them to just talk about, I’ll do us all a favor and stay far enough away from him that it stays that way.
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This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.