I Miss The 'Wild Kratts' Days

What I’m about to say might seem impossible if you’re deep in the little-kid trenches, held hostage by their favorite TV shows. But it’s true: I long for the time when we — my husband and two young sons — would sit around the TV together watching Wild Kratts. It started for us when my youngest son was 3, and my older son was 5, or thereabouts. And it started with the PBS show (which we streamed on Amazon) and quickly morphed into a love of their books, too. For a time there, I felt a deep kinship to the Kratt brothers. And I miss them, big time.

It helps that they got us through the pandemic. Sure, our love of the show started pre-COVID, but man did we watch it a lot during those early days of spring 2020. For weeks on end, all we would talk about were the damn tortuga — what else was there to talk about that wasn’t powerfully depressing? — or my husband and I would inexplicably have “Big Yellow Taxi” in our heads because an episode vaguely made a reference to it. I even, gasp, like Donita Donata’s fashion sense (girlfriend has a very strong earring game) and said so repeatedly, at which my husband deeply rolled his eyes.

As a parent, I loved that the kids would learn something — and I mean really, truly learn it — from watching TV, and I also loved that it gave me a 25-minute window to get some work done. But I’m also deeply grateful for the love and curiosity of animals and awareness of conservation it inspired in my kids.

Chris and Martin, bless them, taught me so much about animals (most of which I’ve forgotten). As the world opened up, we took the kids to their traveling exhibit, to much excitement. It was cool to like animals; it was cool to be curious. We took the kids to the Bronx Zoo — to, honestly, any outdoor zoo we could find in the nearby tri-state area — to look at red pandas and African wild dogs and any other not-so-obvious animal they were introduced to by the brothers. My younger son would play with his completely random, second-tier zoo stuffed animals in his room for hours. That certainly got us through the second wave of COVID.

I look back on this time with fondness, not, of course, for the pandemic that swirled around us, but for the closeness it brought our family. It was something my kids could agree on watching. Sure, we watched the show, but also the longer specials and even online videos about the places they visited in the show. It brought us together.

Which is something I desperately want now, four years later, with my kids watching Fortnite videos and idiotic YouTubers (I know, I know I can and do tell them to switch videos but somehow they always come back to those rich morons) on their individual iPads. Now they’re a tween and an 8-year-old, deeply into sports. My older son would certainly rather watch something inappropriate (he’s been asking to watch some real doozies of TV shows) than something all together.

During that very scary time, the Kratts were a silver lining. Their show gave us an educational moment when educational TV was still cool to them. So do yourself a favor if you have young kids, watch Wild Kratts with them. You’ll have a lot more fun than you think. And to Chris and Martin — thank you guys.

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