“You can watch them all day and never know why…”
-The Mighty Machines Theme Song
I’ve spent the last 43 hours and 12 minutes with a song from my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine video in my head. The song is called “Accidents Can Happen” and, needless to say, it’s not very good. They tell you about a lot of things before you have a child, but they never seem to mention the debilitating effects of children’s music on the functioning of your mind. There was a point in my life where I was able to have a normal flow of thought. That time is over. In less than four years, my mind has turned into a Ringling Brothers sideshow act.
There was a song on a Blues Clues DVD called “Bebop A”. My 2 year old daughter spent the entire car trip from New Jersey to Atlanta screaming “BEBOP A…HEY, HEY…BEBOP A…HEY HEY!!!” Once or twice is very cute. Heck, 50 or 60 times isn’t bad. But after a while, the stuff gets into your blood. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without thinking of it. It’s like graffiti on your cerebral cortex. You zone out for a minute and there it is. Over and over. When you lay down and close your eyes in a 30 dollar a night Motel 6 somewhere in Southern Virginia and you see Steve from Blues Clues staring at you with that smug, goofy look shouting “BEBOP A!!!!” you really get how far gone you are.
There are three stages of CMOBD (Children’s Music on the Brain Disorder). The first is a general acceptance of the song. You hear the Clifford the Big Red Dog theme and you don’t think much about it. You go about your life pretty much unhindered. Occasionally, you notice that you are humming it, but you are nothing more than slightly amused that you remember it. This is the denial stage. Maybe you’ve been hooked before, but you think…not this time.
The second stage is where you start to lose control. It’s when the song starts to consume you. It runs through your mind constantly. Sometimes it’s just the chorus, sometimes it’s a just a phrase, but it starts to take over your life. You are driving a car. Suddenly, you realize you are headed in the wrong direction on a highway. You realize you were singing the awful Aaron Neville theme to The Little People. Something about how Aaron says “little people and we’ll always be friends”. Perfect. You are lost in it.
You are an air traffic controller and someone asks you “What runway should we land that DC-10 on?” You reply with a blank stare. You were thinking about the music at the beginning of Dinosaur Train. Hundreds of lives hang in the balance and you are thinking about dear old Mrs. Pteranodon. You have lost all orientation. You are a CMOBD zombie headed with a one-way ticket to destruction.
Then, there is the third stage. Complete withdrawal. Blinding rage. Utter confusion. You are angry at the world because they can’t hear what you hear. You don’t care whether they understand you or not. You know that there is no thought that is more important than the Teletubbies theme. You close your eyes and you begin to understand that the smiling baby inside of the sun is looking at you and only you. You crave Tubby toast. You start to feel angry that the Tubbies have spilled things again and forced the Noo-Noo into more backbreaking labor. You can no longer distinguish the world from your own personal CMOBD purgatory.
Many recover, but a relapse is never far away. A CMOBD sufferer need only here a few notes and the whole vicious cycle starts again. The confusion. The hysteria. The shame. There is no known cure for CMOBD but we as parents must be vigilant. I have spent three and a half long years suffering from repeated bouts of CMOBD, but I have not lost hope. I know that a brighter tomorrow is just around the corner. Won’t you be, won’t you be, won’t you be…my neighbor.