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Why I Love and Hate 'Ni Hao, Kai-Lan'

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There's a good side and a bad side to letting your child watch a half hour of television a day.

Kai Lan

Christina Montoya Fiedler: The good? It buys me 30 minutes of peace and quiet, while the little guy seems to enjoy every second, dancing and signing to every poppy tune and laughing at the characters' funny faces.

Our show of choice? "Ni Hao, Kai-Lan" on Nick Jr. I figured this was a good one. It teaches kids moral lessons and Chinese. What a twofer!

Now here's the not-so-good. Strangely, I seem to have picked up some Chinese, and am blurting it out at inappropriate times. Yesterday I told our elderly neighbor "Ni hao" (or hello) without even skipping a beat. She just looked at me, confused. I brushed it off as a mere coincidence, seeing as we had just watched an episode before heading out. But as the days went on, it happened again and again. I showed my husband a cute stuffed animal in a shop window:

"Look at the dinosaur, honey! Or, as they say in Chinese, kong long."

That's not the only issue. I find myself singing her sugary sweet tunes all day long. I hum them in the shower, while driving, while cooking, while doing pretty much everything. Could Kai-Lan be sending me subliminal messages? I better play those songs backwards just in case.

I went to my husband for help.

"Andy, I think I have a problem. A 'Ni Hao, Kai-Lan' problem."

"A Ni-Who problem?"

I rolled my eyes ... "Duh, only the most popular girl on TV ..." Then he rolled his. Long story short, I told him how I was suddenly speaking Chinese, and how I couldn't get the songs out of my head. He suggested other invasive tunes for the latter problem ("Hotel California," "We Are Family," and "The Chicken Dance") and reminded me that being bilingual was great, but that I should bulk up on my vocabulary because dinosaur, hi, bye, and grandfather could only get me so far.

It worked for about half a day, and then I was back to my Kai-Lan obsession. Is there a happy medium? Can my son have a favorite kids' show without it warping me for good? Would this ever end?

Then I had an epiphany. I'd just change shows. Simple solution. My son and I are now on to "Yo Gabba Gabba." With songs ranging from "Don't Bite Your Friends" to "It's Fun to Brush Your Teeth," I think I'll be longing for "Ni Hao" days in no time.

next: Parents Sue Dunkin' Over Son's Hash Brown Burn
17 comments so far | Post a comment now
m September 14, 2009, 9:29 AM

yo gabba gabba is the best kids show out there I think it is hilarious

Tiffany September 14, 2009, 11:08 AM

Yo Gabba Gabba has me HOOKED! “There’s a party in my tummy…so yummy…so yummy!!” I start singing that tune everytime we get ready to eat!! lol.

Mama2Four September 14, 2009, 12:57 PM

We have some Yo Gabba Gabba lovers here! It’s a good show. Even my 25 year old brother is hooked because of my youngest daughter. Also, some of those songs have helped me in desperate times.

Wendi September 14, 2009, 1:04 PM

Well we are HUGE Mickey Mouse fans here. I end up singing the songs and answering the questions all the time. ON the plus side, my son has learned so much from watching it. How could you not love Mickey?

Karen S September 14, 2009, 1:22 PM

I love Ni Hao, Kai Lan. Not as much as my girl does, though! She’s about as likely to say “sai chen” (sp?) as “goodbye” these days. Our neighborhood is at least half Chinese, so it’s useful. Yo Gabba Gabba is cute, but it’s a little too NYC hipster for me.

Jillday September 14, 2009, 5:59 PM

I was singing “hugs are fun, hugs are fun, hugs are fun” (a Yo Gabba Gabba song) while making dinner today and had no idea why - had we seen that episode today? Who knows? Yo Gabba Gabba permeates your life!!!

Rachelle September 14, 2009, 9:27 PM

We LOVE Yo Gaba Gaba! My 3-yr-old son loves to dance and sing. So all the music is great. Last year, Don’t Bite Your Friends was very helpful! And our fav. part is Dancy Dance time!

Jennifer September 15, 2009, 11:48 AM

Yo Gabba Gabba does it to me. I break out in song all day…I make my own songs up…

It encourages my lil one as well…

Like “Go potty in the potty Yea! Go potty in the potty yea!” Then I go on with some more singing. lol.

Monica September 15, 2009, 1:45 PM

Oh, honey, you are not the only one! My son watches Kai-lan and Yo Gabba Gabba. I sing all the songs and say all the chinese words I’m learning. I think its just Noggin. Everything on Noggin will give you an “ear worm’. My husband had that Moose A. Moose song “We’re Going on a Trip” in his head for days. And I find myself always saying “You make my heart feel super happy” all the time. I like the show though because I was once learning Chinese and had to stop but it helps me continue in a small way. And I love Yo Gabba Gabba because my son has learned a lot of lessons on behavior from that show. When I want him to calm down and be quiet I sing the “inside voice, quiet, inside voice shh” to him and it works. BUT, I flat out refuse to let him watch that new show The Fresh Beats. That show is annoying. Down right drives me bonkers!

Dorene September 16, 2009, 5:37 AM

I love Kai-Lan if only because she allows me enough time to shower. I’m sure others are grateful for this as well. But the songs, oh the songs. They stick like glue. I believe the sign of a successful kids show is the presence of multiple earworm inducing songs. I’ve been known to walk around singing songs from Yo Gabba Gabba, the Backyardigans, Hi-5 and, unfortunately, the Fresh Beat Band.

Anonymous October 31, 2009, 10:07 AM

Hi moms, my name is Matt & i am melodically responsible for the songs performed in Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, as i co-write them for the show….i am both glad & sorry if they are infectious…also, don’t worry, there are no backwards messages, just good lessons hopefully set to a good tune! thank you for watching!


jennifer earick July 2, 2010, 8:26 AM

my daughter is 3 yrs old and loves kai lan. my question is she sings this adorable song that she claims is from kai lan. it goes something like this: HEART TO HEART MAKES ME SMILE WIDE HERE WITH YOU.” which episode is this song attached to?

Derrick Glende December 21, 2010, 2:01 PM

Yo, I am a long time reader but first time commentator. Please don’t stop writing.

Roland Scarpati January 12, 2011, 4:14 AM

I hope we all learn some very meaningful things from thisarticle.

Tania Beltrami January 13, 2011, 7:21 AM

I couldn’t find any info on this theme.

Daron Gillikin January 13, 2011, 11:21 PM

All I wanted to say is that I? learned a useablething today. Please , don’t stop writing.

Mama to 3 dudes March 26, 2011, 6:26 AM

Hilarious article—— so true!

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