No Function

Over the past few months, Leta has been increasingly interested in The Backyardigans. For the uninitiated, this is an animated show featuring computer rendered characters who have imaginary adventures in their adjoining suburban backyards. The best part is the music, a lot of which is done by Evan Lurie, brother of John Lurie (both of whom were in the founding lineup of the Lounge Lizards). Each episode has a theme and musical style. If I’m going to be trapped into watching TV with my kid, I could do a lot worse. Leta, of course, loves it.

Since we devote a section of the satellite recorder to kids programming, we rotate a few episodes through for Leta, keeping the ones she likes to watch for repeat viewing. The one she’s into this week is “Cops and Robots”, where two of the characters are evil robots and two are cops out to capture them. During the course of this episode, the robots have malfunctions which are marked by a mini freakout and the repetition of the word “malfunction!” over and over until the other presses the reset button. I won’t spoil the end, but there is an alternate way to stop a malfunction and that is revealed in the final minutes.

Leta loves to act this episode out. All day. In every way. Including bringing a Barbie® or princess into the mix. She also loves to delay the inevitable using whatever characters are in her arsenal during that day. So last night when I started the countdown for bed (“20 minutes”, “10 minutes”, “5 minutes”, etc.) we got into a discussion about how princesses sleep in a bed. Leta, the expert negotiator (I see a cabinet position in her future), brought up the fact that Ariel, the Little Mermaid, did not sleep on a bed. Quickly, I said, “Once she became human, she DID sleep in a bed with Eric!”

Dad 1, Leta 0.

Later, as we were getting ready for bed, Leta began to malfunction. Except the word morphed into “No function! No Function! NO FUNCTION!” with Leta running around in circles and trying to avoid getting jammies on. She does a pretty good robot imitation. I pressed her reset button and she went to bed surprisingly easy. And she slept like a trooper, the first time in about three or four weeks (months?). Hurray for the reset button.

This morning, before heading out for pre-school, she watched the episode again and as is custom, she tried to delay departure.

“No function! No function! No function! Dad, you have to push my reset button! Dad! Reset! Button! No function! No function!”

I pressed the reset button. At least 10 times. We were late for school. A lot.