Today, we’re taking a little spin on Ninja Mom’s Character Assassination Carousel with a family of beloved bears. As is traditional with this fun little project, the bears will not come out unscathed. Although it’s mostly that bitch, Mama Bear Berenstain.
My 5-year-old child has an extensive library of books that we both love.
THIS is not one of them.
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV is one of a series of books that my child and his grandmother love. She because she read all of them with her son (my husband). And my child because a 5-year-old generally has terrible taste in just about everything.
The Berenstain Bears books are full of tidy lessons. Don’t watch too much TV, tell the truth, respect your elders, clean up your messy room, buy honey at the store instead of looking for it in the woods with your bumbling idiot of a father…
It’s all very preachy-preachy.
But fine. Kids have to pick this stuff up from somewhere and there are people who prefer shitty books to the Brady Bunch.
But the thing is, this book is not as neat and tidy, and goody-goody as you think it is.
What The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV is really teaching us is not even in the book.
It’s in the subtext.
Here we find out what the book is about on the surface: watching TV all day long is bad for you.
But more importantly, we find out that, even though Mama Bear Berenstain wears nothing around the house all day long except a heinous, match-matchy mu-mu and unbelievably old-fashioned pioneer-style elasticized night-cap, somewhere underneath all that cheap blue polka dot Raggedy Ann-ass material, what she’s really wearing is THE PANTS.
The book opens on an idyllic Spring day – birds are singing, fish are jumping and the air is sparkling clean. All is in its rightful place. Including Mama Bear in the kitchen, cheerfully making an after-school snack for her delightful cubs.
Or is she?
Pay no attention to the pleasant tone of the writing here. What you really need to look at is Mama Bear’s face.
Mama Bear is stone-cold PISSED.
You can tell by the scowl on her face that her family is on her LAST DAMN NERVE. There’s a strong chance she’s PMSing too.
She’d much rather be at her Quilting or Gardening Club (aka drinking mimosas at Mrs. Panda’s house) than sneaking pureed cauliflower into homemade chocolate chip cookies and pitting up in her peter pan-colored tent-dress than in this hot damn kitchen.
And as she clearly expects, Brother and Sister Bear have the audacity to not only run through the kitchen, grab their snack and head straight to the TV without so much as a thank-you ma’am for pissy old Mama Bear Berenstain .. they also throw all their shit on the ground the second they walk in the door.
Minutes later, the kids and Papa Bear are parked in front of the TV in a moronic trance.
Mama Bear goes in, crosses her arms and just gives them that BITCH-FACE.
Mama Bear announces, “The whole Bear family is watching too much TV!”
That’s what she says, but if you read between the lines, it’s more like: “If you wanna see a Nutty Bear Show, I’ll show you a Nutty Bear Show, ungrateful little bastards, run in and grab my cookies, baking all day, can’t even say thank you, sitting on your fat asses, give me that remote, I’ll show you, throw that thing right out the window…”
Next, Mama spends some quality time obsessing over how the TV became more important than her in her own damn house. And also wondering how she ended up with a big old tacky satellite dish sticking up from the top of her tree house like some fricking redneck Ozark bear.
Then she locks herself in the bathroom with a xanax and a bottle of wine and starts romanticizing all kinds of stuff that never happened, like lively family dinner table conversations and her kids jumping ropes with butterflies.
Mama Bear files her claws, comes back out, stands in front of that damn idiot-box and shuts. that. shit. down.
Which, by the way, is the kind of parenting move that mostly punishes the parents.
Before the cubs can really kick up their protestations, Papa Bear steps in and backs up his woman. “No TV for a week is an excellent idea…Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a sports show I want to watch.”
The text very reasonably, albeit firmly, shows Mama saying, “No TV for a week means you, too.”
Papa wants to know how he’ll keep up with what’s going on in the world if he can’t watch the TV news.
“Here, try this” (YOU DUMBASS) says Mama. “It’s called the newspaper.”
“And the weather!” continued Papa. “How will we know what the weather will be?
“Try this,” (AND TRY NOT TO FUCK IT UP LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE) said Mama. “It’s called putting your hand out the window to see if it’s raining.”
Even the kids are just standing there feeling ashamed for their pussy-whipped father.
Then as her pill and chardonnay start to kick in, Mama Bear settles into her rocking chair with her eyes closed and a smug look on her face that says, “Begone with you all.”
Hen-pecked Papa knows he’s beat. He rolls his eyes and gives the cubs a look that says, “When your Mama gets her panties in a wad…”
So the whole family, every one of whom lives by the saying “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” humors her for a few days, riding bikes, looking at the stars, pretending to care about boring things like what bats eat for breakfast and the crappy stuff at the Bear Country Mall.
They all join together to cock-block bumbling idiot Papa Bear every time he tries to sneak a peek at the TV.
And by week’s end, they’ve restored balance to the Bear family.
Mama Bear Berenstain is feeling her completely sanctimonious old self. Brother and Sister Bear have their TV back but are smart enough to pretend they still prefer knitting and 1980s cube puzzles to “The Bear Stooges.” And after sitting inches from the TV all day long with his hand down his pants, “even (DUMBASS) Papa Bear had enough…”
All’s well that ends well in Bear Country.
Until Mama Bear gets her granny panties in a wad for the next book. And there are about one million of them. Or at least it feels like it.
Next up, Pat and Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point
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