When I was in high school, I was obsessed with “Ren and Stimpy.” My mom and I would watch the show together and then we’d imitate the characters. Later, I became obsessed with “Animaniacs” and my mom would record episodes for me when I was away at school, as well as buy shirts and other items for me. She even hung out with me and my friend at the mall when we went to meet the actors — that’s how tolerant and supportive she was of my obsessions.
I didn’t truly appreciate the power a child’s obsessions have over their parents until I had kids of my own. It started innocently enough, with everyone’s favorite furry friend…Elmo! Then The Wiggles came along and that’s all we heard about for eight months, when E was two years old. While I found The Wiggles annoying, I also ended up singing the songs with my son, getting him videos and CDs from the library, and finding stuff from them on the Internet. After M was born, E slowly lost interest in The Wiggles and I Freecycled his videos so that M couldn’t carry on the obsession someday. In the meantime, there was “Hi-5,” a cute educational show on The Learning Channel.
Last year, M became obsessed with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” as I was using it to teach them about Joseph’s story in the Torah. It wasn’t just about listening to the CD on every car trip, but also about watching the movie. After that phase was over, he became obsessed with The Laurie Berkner Band. He now has every song memorized and asks to listen to her on every car trip. He watches the DVD that she put out a few years ago and also watches newer videos online. I entered a contest for him to win her new DVD and some other prizes, including the chance to speak to her on Skype. When I found out that he won the grand prize, I was as excited as if I had won tickets to see Adam Lambert. (Maybe my parents can win those for me…)
I’ve come to realize that being a parent means supporting your kids’ obsessions, as long as they’re age-appropriate and healthy. I’m interested to see what my daughter will become obsessed with someday. I won’t mind if it’s Barbies or Babysitter’s Club books, because to me, part of loving our kids is respecting their likes and dislikes and enjoying them together.
Feel free to tell us about about your child’s latest obsession — and how far you’ve gone to share it with them.