Sunday, December 5, 2010

Aunt Clara and Uncle Oscar - Power Over Toddlers!

Kukla, Fran & Ollie
A thousand years ago in my childhood, there was a fantastic thing that arrived in my house -- a television! It had a five-inch (yes, five-inch!) screen in a full-sized floor cabinet. We were enthralled with the shows and with the countdown pattern that would signal the start of the few shows available at the time. Gathered together, we young'uns would all do the countdown as the patterns changed and the number "1" finally appeared. Magic was about to happen!

Late afternoon meant kids programming and one of my favorites was the Kukla, Fran & Ollie Show. I was enthralled at all the characters, how clever they were, and amazed that Kukla and Ollie could drink with a straw! You can share this early TV Show with your own children, check out their holiday DVD special. It was a much simpler time. But, I digress...

I'm here to tell you about Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara and this requires a leap into the future
 (well, MY future, anyway) and life as a young mommy. 

By the time my daughters were growing up, television had become more sophisticated, color TVs were more prevalent in homes, and cartoons had become well-established -- although, I never understood how Hanna Barbera just looped the same tree and/or window in the background of the cartoons and kept the kids interested, when Disney offered so much more. Again, I digress...

I can't tell you how much I LOVED Kukla, Fran & Ollie and the wonderful characters that filled that half hour, every day. They became my friends. So, I decided to share some of that joy with my own girls. Using Kukla as a guide, I made two hand characters (just can't bring myself to call them puppets, albeit, that's what they were) from papier-mache; painted them, and gave them hair and cloth bodies. Uncle Oscar was fairly close to Kukla and Aunt Clara was of the same family but decidedly dressier.

Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara were introduced to my girls, one evening, after their bath. I had a wonderful French Provincial high-backed chair that would hide me and give my babes (3-yrs and 5-yrs) a soft cushion to kneel (I insisted) on, while O&C used the top edge of the chair for a stage. OMG! They were a hit!

From that night on, for the next year or so, the bedtime routine included a visit with Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara. The girls simply refused to go to bed without sharing their day with their 'best aunt and uncle'  and a most unexpected result was that Mommy (capital M, because it's being used as my serious title, at this time) reaped the biggest reward. (All's fair in raising young'uns)

What reward, you might ask? Well, imagine being the voice(s) of your childrens' new 'best friends.' Wouldn't you share your day? Wouldn't you want to share your secrets? Like who stepped on the toothpaste tube and, well, for instance, a typical evening's visit:

Oscar: (Partner in crime - toddler style): How was your day, girls?
D#1: Oh, it was fun. We did lots of things.
Oscar: Like what?
D#2: Well, we dropped the toothpaste.
D#1: I stepped on it and toothpaste came way out onto the floor. Pierrot (family pet) started licking it.
Oscar: Does your mommy know?
D#1 & D#2: NO! Don't tell her, okay? I wiped it with the towel, so she doesn't know...
D#2: She'll get mad. Don't tell her. Promise?
Oscar: I promise; I won't tell. Because, you cleaned it up and that's what you should do. 
Clara (PI and Conscience): I won't tell but you should, because that would be helping your mommy make sure everything is clean. Remember when she told you that everyone has accidents and the most important thing is to clean it up before it stains or gets worse -- like when you spilled the paint? So, you should tell her. Will you do that, for me?
D#1: Oh, yeah, that's right.  Okay, I'll tell her, tonight, when we go to bed.
D#2: Me, too.
D#1: But, it was fun and made us laugh -- a lot!

... well, you get the idea. Giggles throughout and lots of fun for about ten minutes. Of course, my voice changed for both characters and it was a wonderful time. Finding out who spread lipstick over the bottom carpeted stair was a special night for Mommy, too, if you know what I mean.

NO, before you ask, I don't have pictures because our dog Pierrot was insanely jealous of the girls' new friends and he found them alone one day and, well, it's best to not walk through that door...

Recently, I reminded my eldest about those days. She told me how special they were to both she and her sister and how they thought of them as real life friends that they looked forward to sharing their day with at bedtime. What I didn't realize was how upset they were when that time was over. Our lives had gotten busier, the girls were older, and how do you replace a favorite uncle and aunt?


  1. What a lovely story!
    I can´t remember my mother ever doing anything like that :-)

    But I do remember our television and the children's programs. Disney we only saw at Christmas eve and still do, They show Donald Ducks and his friends Christmas show every Christmas eve at 3 pm and have done so for over 51 years now. Much the same films too :-) :-) :-)

    Every time they try to change something in it all hell breaks loose. I think that show is the most important christmas tradition we have over here. After the show we all start handing out our presents and If there´s children around they get to meet Santa (or as we call him the Yule Gnome). I was terrified of him and got so happy when I realized he wasn´t real :-) :-) :-)

    Have a great day now!

  2. I'm a true Donald Duck fan, Christer! Never could get warm about Mickey -- figured he had enough fans... But, then, again, I've always followed the other road... or, carved out my own... We're getting overwhelmed with traditions, over here; it's hard to remember what kind of card to send! Enjoy your tea!

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    God Bless You :-)