An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Total Drama Island: Tween Therapy December 13, 2014

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 7:06 am
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I: Independence


TDI Group Inappropriately Dressed for the Island


Please make the eye-rolling stop. The aaaarrrrghs and frustrations on both mine and my tween daughter’s parts are a regular occurrence. Not to say this emotional state is constant, it’s just more interspersed among the easy-going conversations that used to be the norm. Sometimes it escalates to Total Drama Island (TDI).


If you’ve never watched TDI, don’t roll your eyes just yet. I happened upon the kids’ interest in this show last spring and took some time to check it out for myself. I’m obsessive on Lost, but only a lukewarm viewer of Survivor, which is the show that TDI spoofs. The animated series from Canada recounts the misadventures at Camp Wawanakwa, an island retreat where 22 teens compete in extreme challenges while vying for the $100,000 grand prize. Every three days, at a campfire ceremony, the host passes out marshmallows to players who are safe. The sad camper who doesn’t get a marshmallow must walk down the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers, which will bear him back to his mundane life.


Courtney, TDI Animated Reality Star

Courtney, TDI Animated Reality Star


TDI, on air for four seasons since its original air date in July 2007, was created based on researching findings on what teens did and didn’t like about reality TV programs. Common Sense Media gave TDI 4 out of 5 stars. And TDI content, aimed at 12-18 year-olds, was a 4.5 by my 9 and 11 year-old’s ranking (Courtney and Duncan got their votes for the island’s IT couple, pictured here).


As tweens start to have more emotional imbalance and complex relationships, households can feel like a total drama island. When the kids were younger, I sometimes felt like our family was its own little island – intentionally, blissfully isolated from the outside world. Now, we can still be that island, but rather than always sharing campfires on the beach, sometimes we want to climb up our own tree and find a private haven. In fact, that’s a lot more common.


Duncan, TDI Top Vote

Duncan, TDI Top Vote

It’s occurred to me once or twice that I may have been a difficult teen. As parents our natural inclinations are to fix things for our children. We help them overcome uncomfortable emotions, sometimes by rationalizing, downplaying or covering them up. I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing, but I’m always testing different approaches. This usually involves commiserating when the mood is low, offering to toss dishware into the fireplace, stomp or scream; or just dramatically changing up the scenery to bring an alternate perspective to the challenge at hand. Sometimes just letting her know her feelings are validated then leaving her be is the best solution.


My take on Total Drama Island is divided into two drama-causing halves (not to even mention the hormonal changes going on behind the scenes): 1. the relationship-induced drama (cited in the prior paragraph) and 2. the daily-task, energy-level induced drama. As a parent, I get swept up in the daily drama, most noticeably in the chaotic morning and whenever we leave the house to be somewhere by a specific time. I wish it were easier to locate a matching pair of socks, a sharp pencil for homework, random field trip forms and the like. It just isn’t, but I continue to work on this with the children, bless them.


Dockside Manners: TDI Relationships

Dockside Manners: TDI Relationships

Sending them off on their day on the right foot is so important. It gives them a foundation to feel confident and make good choices. There have been mornings I regret — all in a rush to make an insane school start time of 7:30a.m. Everyday I get in that last “have a good day,” send off and a kiss if I’m lucky, but the events leading up to send off could have been less TDI.


Living in the daily emotion for tweens and teens and working through them confidently is a skill. Sometimes I wonder if I know the navigation well enough to impart these skills. I do admit (a lot) that I’m not perfect, I have my own issues and I don’t know what to do about said dramatic situation. Watching TDI might be some suggested co-therapy or an outlet and OMG! lucky for you and your tween, there are 93 episodes on Netflix available now.


Auf Wiedersehen to Out of Fashion January 24, 2011

U: The Unknown

It’s no secret to those closest to me that I watch a bit of reality tv. I like to think of my specific reality tv choices as educational programming. Project Runway and Top Chef have some serious merit as far as I’m concerned. So when Ava, my 7-yr-old daughter, snuggled up past bedtime and insisted on watching The Fashion Show with me, I conceded and set out to observe what any typical young person might learn from this show.


Ava seems to enjoy fashion. I had assumed most girls eventually get into fashion or at least have a curiosity about how to put an outfit together. In our previous “fashion fights,” where my sensibilities on color coordination, dressing for the occasion, warmth, etc would try to reason with her strong will, her point of view seemed immature and misguided.


Take the Liberty to Get Creative with Your Designs

Take the Liberty to Get Creative with Your Designs

While watching this fashion show where fashion designers compete in one of two teams (or houses) to make individual pieces that are then part of a cohesive collection, I listened during the hour-long show as she articulated why she liked certain designs, specifically what she thought went wrong or right about the design and what she would do differently. I was ready to pull out a dress from my closet and see her rework it on the sewing machine.


I may be getting carried away. We talked about our opinions on the pieces and wondered what Calvin, a spirited contestant, had to say that he continually was bleeped over. Judgment time of the show rolled around. It was the Elemental Fashion episode where they toured NYC on a boat and were challenged to make clothing designs inspired by the earth, wind and water. All of the designs were avant-garde and made for good discussion. It made Ava really uncomfortable to see all the hard work the designers had done and the some of the harsh critique some of them received at the show’s end. Which brings me to the catch phrase.


The Fine Art of Tracing

The Fine Art of Tracing

I’m a long-time fan of Project Runway with host Heidi Klum who rarely ever waivers when dismissing contestants with a blunt, “Auf Wiedersehen.” It’s apparent that all reality shows do not leave their delivery lines to chance: “Please pack your knives and go” (Top Chef), “Your desserts just aren’t measuring up” (Top Chef: Just Desserts), “As you know, one day in fashion you’re in and the next, you’re out” (Project Runway) and finally The Fashion Show’s hotly-debated catch phrase from host Iman, which some say is way too similar to Klum’s, “You’re out of fashion.”  When Iman delivered that line to Cesar in this particular episode we watched, it meant that he just missed one of three top spots that would go on to compete in the finale. Ava declared she would never want a judger job.


Almost No Such Thing as a Tie in Fashion

Almost No Such Thing as a Tie in Fashion

While this may have been a bit traumatic to witness, I think she learned some fashion terminology, understood the process about design inspiration, how color and material selection played into the design and the art of taking some constructive criticism. I feel like she is already a step up from where I was at her age in my hometown home-economics class.  It was late. We slept on it.


The next day, The My Style Studio kit came out. It comes complete with all the necessary templates to pattern, mix and match styles and accessorize. We had our own design competition using similar dress concepts. We declared it a tie and wondered if fashion reality tv might soften their tone with an “I’m sorry. Tonight, your designs were among tough competition. Regrettably, we must let you go. Good luck future fashion designer!”


Tune into BravoTV on Tuesday, January 25 at 9:00p.m. CST to see The Fashion Show: The Ultimate Collection Finale. Invite your young aspiring designer to join you (sensoring Calvin comments is a must).

Also, for more fashion games and learning, Project Runway’s past seasons have drag and drop fashions for your inner fashionista to create a look that’s all your own.


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