After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

“I don’t know… yet!

“Let’s give it a go!”

With each word, the looks of horror on the faces of my listeners grew.

The aforementioned listeners were my grandchildren and some of the neighbor kids, who were aghast that a grown man was thus demonstrating that yes, he has indeed voluntarily watched the animated children’s TV show Gabby’s Dollhouse… by himself!

I would have continued with more catchphrases from the show like, “Time to get tiny!” or sung Gabby’s transformation spell, but I decided that was enough torture of small children for one day.

Kids want to grow up as fast as they can, so they like to watch more grown up fare as soon as practical, disdaining those “baby shows.” Even little Rosie once admonished me when I put Gabby’s Dollhouse on the TV to distract her: “I big kid now.”

Of course, you’ve already realized that by recognizing those catchphrases they’d demonstrated that they’d also watched the show, too, right?

Actually, children’s shows usually sneak in content that adults will like too, so that parents won’t be so quick to turn off the TV. But I will admit that Gabby’s Dollhouse is pushing it a little.

My daughter contributed that she didn’t know much about the show herself, other than, “It has that octopus thing with the arms… Uh, DJ…”

“DJ Catnip!” I finished for her.

The horrified looks intensified.

Gabby is a preteen human female who magically shrinks down into a little catgirl to have adventures in her dollhouse, where she meets up with a bevy of animated creatures on a regular basis.

Each of them has a specialty, like gardening, crafting, baking, music, etc. And each episode they all team up to solve some sort of problem or puzzle. Think “Blue’s Clues.”

I’ve always liked animation of all types, from the time I was a small child mesmerized in front of the TV on Saturday morning watching cartoons in my pajamas.

Back then it was animated shows like Crusader Rabbit, as well as live-action fare such as The Lone Ranger or Sky King.

It wasn’t until a neighbor kid got color TV that I discovered, much to my surprise, that Huckleberry Hound was blue.

Most of the animation I watch now is from Japan and pitched for teens or adults, such as movies from Studio Ghibli or Makoto Shinkai. I rewatched Porco Rosso recently; it was glorious.

But I also watch western animation like Miraculous Ladybug or The Dragon Prince, and yes, some of my selections can be a bit on the young side. These are calming for me.

And that’s why I’m quite familiar with Ladybug, Cat Noir, Doc McStuffins, Twilight Sparkle and all the rest.

While I was binge watching Miraculous Ladybug, Alice would just roll her eyes. That show is unabashedly corny, with lines like, “No more evil-doing for you… time to de-evillize!”

But one of the many nice things about having kids is that you have a built-in excuse to watch these shows and movies with them, and have lots of… interesting… discussions.

I asked them once if She-ra (heroine from She-ra, Princess of Power) and Mumm-ra (villain from Thundercats) were related, since they had the same last name.

“You’re weird, Dad,” was the reply.

Now that I’m an empty-nester, though, it’s a little more awkward when it becomes apparent I know way too much about this stuff.

I once lamented, “How am I going to explain how I know the names of all the Disney fairies or the name of Sofia the First’s bunny?”

One of my sons advised me, “Just own it, Dad.” He usually gives pretty good advice.

Recently I was surprised to find Gabby’s Dollhouse merchandise on my granddaughters’ birthday present wish lists.

I objected, “But I thought that was a baby show!’”

“They changed their minds,” my daughter told me.

And sure enough, when I visited them the other day the girls were playing a Gabby’s Dollhouse card game and enthusiastically singing the show’s theme song.

I sang it right along with them.

Not much of a family resemblance, is there?