An Ode to Saturday Morning Cartoons


Saturday morning cartoons are a thing of the past now…

A recent Saturday morning found me waking up to the sound of my kids’ feet scurrying down the stairs. Ahh….weekends. No school or daycare, no deadlines for getting out the door, no stressed-out parent yelling about packing lunches and backpacks. Saturday mornings are what kids live for, what I used to live for when I was in grade school.

On this particular morning, my kids were indeed running downstairs to watch their favourite shows. The difference between their experience and mine, however, was that they were watching their shows on my laptop. As I descended the stairs to the dining room, that familiar glow became evident and I saw my daughter and twin boys (ages 10, four and four) huddled around the screen, watching the remainder of the kiddie movie that they had started the night before. If they needed to go to the bathroom, they simply touched the touchpad and the action stopped. Ditto for that second trip to the kitchen for yet more cereal (their default when they don’t want to wait for Mom to make them a “real” breakfast). The idea of making a mad dash to do whatever was needed within a two-minute commercial window was as foreign as having to wait for a particular show to air on TV. In this day and age, even DVDs seem obsolete to the technologically-savvy, elementary school set.

In my experience, a huge appeal of the weekend was being able to wake up, run downstairs to the basement (where our TV was then), and turn on the TV. My reality wasn’t a 24-hour digital universe of children’s shows playing on a continual loop; rather, there were five to six programs that were good - really good - and if I slept in or missed them, I was out of luck for another week. Back in the day, the term “you snooze, you lose” was literally the case. After all, Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) didn’t exist, and that was okay. We all managed to live without watching our favourite programs at the perfect times and we survived if we - gasp - missed a show or two.

Bugs Bunny classic

The whole allure of “Saturday Morning Cartoons” (yes - they were a thing in and of themselves) was waking up early (really early, sometimes at 6am or before) - in order to catch the best cartoons and shows that would be played in sequence each week. There was no time-shifting, satellite or repeated-throughout-the-day, 24-hour or “on-demand” programming that has become the standard expectation of kids today. No - it was me alone at dawn, waiting with baited breath for Bugs Bunny, The Road Runner and Tweety Bird to do their thing. And when they did finally appear on the screen, they were so much more appreciated because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to Google the particular episode and watch it on YouTube if I wanted to see it again. I would just have to wait. Knowing that this particular time to watch was my only chance made it all the more enticing.

Kids these days really don’t know what they’re missing. The fact that they can access their favourite programs anywhere, anytime means that they will never experience the thrill of anticipation and the joy of watching a show, savouring it and letting it go once it is over, knowing that they won’t know when they’ll see it again. It is the not knowing that makes the program so much more enticing. At least that’s what it seemed like to me, way back when.

Don’t get me wrong - I love technology and all it has to offer, but there’s something to be said for the weekly wait and excitement leading up to the Saturday morning lineup. Somehow, running downstairs to do a quick Google search for a cartoon just doesn’t cut it.

[color-box]**UPDATE** Want to hear more about how things used to be compared to now? Subscribe to Multiple Mayhem Mamma’s Parenting Then and Now podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you get your podcast feeds.

Here’s an episode of Parenting Then and Now that discusses this topic:

Parenting Then and Now on iTunes

Parenting Then and Now on Google Play[/color-box]

Rocky and Bullwinkle Intro


Image courtesy of Warner Brothers

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