Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stop me if you've heard this one before: So this dad goes into a PBS event...

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event PBS was holding. I didn't know anything about the context of the event, but after realizing my boy was going to have a day off school that day and after realizing Arlington, VA wasn't that far from Baltimore, I gave the only logical answer: "Sure, why not?"

An email days before the event indicated I've made the right decision. There were going to have high-end technology product demonstrations of PBS Kids games. And life-sized PBS Kids characters wandering about the place. In my head, I was holding my kids' hands as the three of us entered a large room filled with Curious Georges, cakes, and sexy robots.

Don't ask me what the sexy robots did there. I guess they were serving the cakes? My imaginary future is catered by sexy robots. Sorry, I don't make the rules.


So we reach Arlington and I recognize the logo on the PBS building, which gets me a little star-struck for some reason. Funny that you don't need to look at stars to be star-struck; it's enough to face a logo. Funny world we live in.

I get into the building, and it looks like I was right: It IS futuristic. All glass doors and glass stairs and high ceilings. I go up and sign here and sign there... What is that? Consent form? Sure, whatever. And what's this form? Day care? Sure I'll sign that...

Wait, what?

And before I get to stop and think, I've already abandoned my kids in a baby-sitting room and moved ahead to the event.

Now, the thing about me abandoning my kids and continuing to the event is that--

Well, I don't know about you all. My guess is that some of you are social animals. You go to these type of events and you mingle and you schmooze and you sometimes even booze, and you leave the room an hour later with two hundred new Facebook friends. However, as someone who uses his kids as a shield to defend himself from social interaction, I now feel naked. And when more parents get into the room, I realize that not only am I the only socially awkward person there, I'm also the only dad, and my only defense is in the other room, running away from a giant Curious George.

But really, I'm overreacting for COMEDIC EFFECT. The PBS people couldn't be nicer and more welcoming, the babysitters were awesome, and as far as I could tell, the mom bloggers didn't bite.

And as for the event itself--

PBS Kids has just launched dozens of new games on The games are all free, all smart, all very interactive, and all featuring the great imagination and playfulness of their creators. So the games are fun, but more importantly, they have the PBS seal of approval, by which I mean you can let your kid play alone (or against a friend) on a computer, an iPhone, or an iPad, and you know your kid is in good hands and that he might actually learn some age-specific basic math in the process.

The games are also meant to be played in classrooms and in libraries using touch screen technology, whether on computers or using interactive whiteboards. Some games use your computer/iPhone/iPad/Whiteboard camera or mike to put you in the game, which means you see yourself on the screen, jumping or clapping or doing whatever Curious George tells you to do, and George reacts according to your movements. It's all very neat and very engaging, and judging by the early reactions of some of the bloggers who got a chance to test the games at home, a great success with the target audience.

Being a demanding adult who used to play in the endless worlds of Grand Theft Auto games, I did find some of the characters' reaction in the games to be repetitive, but I also feel that kids won't mind that, and even the opposite may be true. In a world where so many things make very little sense, a little repetition can be reassuring to a child.

When it ended, I went back to the other room to pick up my kids. The three of us waved goodbye to the babysitters and to the PBS people, and even to the giant Super Why dude and Curious George who were waiting by the glass stairs.

I was encouraged. "See? They're not scary. They're nice. Maybe you want to take a picture with them? That'll be fun, right?"

But my girl turned her head away and my boy ran down the stairs. Now, I would have tried to get a picture with Curious George myself, because, you know, why not, but being the only dad there, I felt I was representing all dads throughout history, so I had to act like an adult...

I hope I got you to check out the site. It's free, so you should really just do it. And if I got you to the PBS site and you like the games and feel you should let your school or library know about them, then that's even better.

And let me know if you have any questions. I won't necessarily have answers, but I'm pretty sure I'll know where to get them, so ask ahead.
Categories: , , ,


  1. My son loves PBS kids and the games they have on their website, particularly anything to do with Curious George. Sounds like an interesting day.

    Since you're "in" with PBS, could you ask why they rerun some George episodes relentlessly yet never replay the one with the train station? Gah!

  2. I will surely check it out. I hope my kid would also enjoy it. :)

  3. I let my child browse through the lab link and he likes it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Frogs in my formula, between the Tea Party and the Occupy protests, people have completely missed the real reason for the rage in the country. Now, you should get this car sticker: "I love Curious George, I love the train station episode, AND I VOTE."

  5. Hazardous & Minuteman, cool! Hopefully your kids like it.

  6. I think it is also good to let the kids mingle with other kids while you do the socializing. :)

  7. Yea, while I was in the other room listening to the product announcement, I could hear all the kids screaming and laughing... I think everybody, including the presenters, wished they were in the other room.



    Featured On...

    Get widget