I decided to rewatch the first season of the classic 90's Nickelodeon series Rugrats to revel in a bit of nostalgia. As I watched it again, I wondered: How did these infants and toddlers not get taken away by the Department of Family and Children Services? I mean, really? I love this show still and I KNOW it's just a cartoon, but if this kind of thing had happened in real life, poor Tommy Pickles would have been in foster care. Here's why I say this:
S1E1: Tommy's First Birthday:
I get that party planning is stressful, believe me. Making sure that you have all the guests situated, the venue booked, entertainment planned, and food made and ready to go is a lot of work. However, in the episode, the party had already been planned and there was literally one snag-the puppeteers were not booked. Tommy's dad, Stu and uncle started doing the puppet show, and they got into an argument, but instead of telling them to calm down, Tommy's mom, Didi and the other adults tried to intervene and paid zero attention to the babies, who were attempting to get into the kitchen to eat dog food. Chuckie had the control for the toy Stu had made for Tommy, and he accidentally made it pick Tommy up by his diaper and fly him from the kitchen to the living room, and the other kids were stacked on top of each other trying to boost Tommy to the top cabinets to get the can of dog food. That had to have taken at least ten minutes, and given that the party was to celebrate Tommy's first birthday, you'd think that the adults would have paid the little guy some attention instead of getting involved in some petty brotherly squabble. Not cool, Pickles fam. Tommy being literally FLOWN by his overalls across the kitchen, unattended.
S1E2: Barbecue Story:
Tommy's parents are having a barbecue with their friends and their children. Tommy is playing with his favorite toy, a ball his Grandpa Lou gave him. His cousin Angelica comes over to the babies' playpen and snatches the ball from Tommy. She tries to make him say "please" and compliment her in order to get it back, but when he stands his ground, she throws the ball over the neighbors' fence. Tommy is determined to get the ball back, so he and his friends go into the neighbors' yard and then into the next yard over, where there is a vicious dog, in order to retrieve his beloved toy. The parents are relieved when the family dog brings Tommy and the other children back, but WHERE WAS THE ATTENTION WHEN THE BABIES LEFT? I mean come on, Didi! You're reading child psychologist Dr. Lipschitz's manuals cover to cover and preaching them like they're your personal Bible and you didn't realize your baby was two houses over until probably fifteen minutes or more later?
Chuckie and Tommy being chased by the neighbor's dog, trying to get Tommy's ball.
S1E4: Little Dude:
Didi, a Home Economics teacher, brought Tommy to work with her to teach her high school students about raising a child. Some of the girls in the class adored him and asked if they could take care of him while Didi was on her lunch break. She agrees-and let me stop you there. You have just taught these girls one 45-minute to 1 1/2 hour lesson (accurate class time for fictional school unknown) about taking care of a baby and you think they can take care of your son? (Disclaimer: I know some people in high school babysit or have younger siblings, so knowing how to take care of a child for a short period of time isn't that big of a stretch in real life, but we're assuming these cartoon girls are either only children or close in age to their siblings for the purpose of scrutiny.) Not only are they inexperienced, but they proceed to lose Tommy in the span of around an hour. Do not trust someone who has never been around your child to take care of your child, full stop.
Three inexperienced teenage girls taking care of Tommy before they LOSE HIM.
S1E8: Special Delivery:
Stu is trying to invent a toy, and this other toy company has invented a toy with the same concept. He is distraught, until he realizes he can figure out how the other toy works by purchasing it and tinkering with it. He orders it, and Didi jokes to Tommy that the toy is the new baby and it will come in the mail soon. Tommy takes her seriously and waits by the mail slot for his "new baby sister". The mail comes, and Stu gets it, but wonders where his order is. The mailman tells him that it was too heavy to carry (back when mailmen walked around with the bag packed with envelopes), and that he would have to come to the post office to pick it up. As they were having this conversation, Tommy climbs into the mail bag to look for the "baby." The mailman unknowingly takes Tommy to the post office, and the baby goes through all the machines and scanners in the mailroom. He finds the doll and gets in the box with it. Finally, Stu arrives at the post office, and rather than notice that his son is in the box with the doll, he simply takes it home, and miraculously Tommy arrives home safely, but NO ONE NOTICED HE WAS MISSING. Does anyone pay attention to this kid??
Tommy at the post office, being lifted by his diaper and carried by a machine, with a postage sticker over his mouth.
S1E11: Touchdown Tommy:
Tommy is walking around the living room and his dad is reading the newspaper. Tommy bumps his head on the edge of the table, and he begins to cry. Didi comes into the room to console him and notices that he has a large bruise forming. It is the day of the "Ultra Bowl" and the men of the show are gathering at the Pickles' residence to watch the game, but they are bringing their kids. The moms want to go to the mall but they're afraid the dads won't watch the kids at all and they'll get hurt. Stu fashions helmets out of bowls, buckets, stuffed animals, diapers, and sponges for each of the children so that they won't have to worry about head injuries. The babies and Angelica are given bottles of milk (with Angelica saying bottles are for babies, refusing the milk), and Tommy's grandpa gives him chocolate milk. Angelica notices the chocolate milk and begins to fight with Tommy over it. When the moms get home, the living room is covered in chocolate milk and the children are out of their playpen, and the dads are oblivious. All the moms asked was for the dads to watch their children for a few hours, but since none of the parents, dads OR moms, watch their kids in this show, something was bound to go wrong.
The disaster of a living room after the fight for chocolate milk, because the children were unattended AGAIN.
I am aware that raising kids is hard, and that this IS a work of fiction. However, if this WERE real life, and anyone heard how these parents didn't watch their kids, they'd be taken away faster than you could say Rugrats.