There is a toddler song called “Johny Johny Yes Papa” that is often an appendage of a nursery rhyme video cluster that my children watch on YouTube through children’s music provider ChuChu TV. The song lyrics detail a short verbal exchange between a child named Johnny and his father. The conversation begins with the father approaching his son and asking if the child was sneaking eating sugar with a spoon. What migrated was what sounded to be the child’s ambiguous response, indicating that he may have actually gotten away with lying to his father.
The rhyme goes:
Dad: “Johnny! Johnny!”
Son: “Yes, papa?”
Dad: “Eating sugar?”
Son: “No, papa.”
Dad: “Telling lies?”
Son: “No, papa.”
Dad: “Open your mouth.”
Son: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
That’s it—no extended review of the situation, no exploration of actions and consequences, no further analysis of whether Johnny is lying or truth-telling. The accompanying YouTube video shows that Johnny did, indeed, have some sugar crystals on his tongue in revealing the indiscretion to his father. The father seemingly just…lets it go.
I’m confused by it.
Or, rather, I’m confused by the lack of turn of events.
This is in no way discrediting the popularity of the song and the success of its parent channel. Vinoth Chandar, the father creator of ChuChu TV, confirmed in a recent interview that what started as a lullaby composed for his daughter, Harshita, turned into what is now an award-winning YouTube business. In conversation, the CEO/Creative Director denoted some startling facts regarding his creation: “Our 50 channels together add up to 12 million subscribers, with a watch time beyond 1.5 billion minutes per month, which percolates into 4 minutes per user on an average. Third week of September alone we crossed 20-30 million views on 6-7 videos.” (Iyer, 2017)
The original YouTube video for “Johny Johny Yes Papa” has garnered over 1.2 billion views by itself. “It didn’t start with us having an intention to make it big at all,” Chandar says. “I got into the practice of singing lullabies and making animated videos of my daughter dancing. It was just to put her to sleep, but this practice went into creating animated videos that all kids could watch.” (Iyer, 2017)
One billion views. That’s amazing.
I suddenly feel as if I’m in the wrong business.
So, should I really care that Johnny expressed a bit of a white lie to his dad so that he could continue doing something strange and unhealthy? No, because kids are weird. Yes, because…moms.
I feel like the same interaction with a mother would have ended in a much different manner.
Mom: “Johnny! Johnny!”
Johnny: “Yes, mama?”
Mom: “Eating sugar?”
Johnny: “No, mama.”
Mom: “Telling lies?”
Johnny: “No, mama.”
Mom: “Open your mouth.”
Johnny: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Mom: “What did I tell you about eating sugar, Johnny? Are you losing your mind? You know what? Don’t come to me when your stomach is hurting! I don’t want to hear it! You are in so much trouble, mister! Wasting my sugar! And then you lie about it? Are you crazy?! I know you’ve gone crazy! I’m telling your father!”
Keep in mind that this is not a mandatorily universal response. There are some fathers who balk at the perception of lax and liberal behavior in their care; there are some mothers who insist that more freedom and independent choice is better for child development. I recognize that sugar-tasting may or may not be the biggest petty misdeed that a toddler can get into in a given day.
It is odd, though, that little Johnny admits to the act so openly and tauntingly almost immediately after being confronted. In my experience, children generally will not concede that casually so soon after being caught. I also believe that Johnny’s laughter insults my authority as a mother. Particularly when safety precautions like a lidded jar are put into place to keep children away from their most charming impulses, the instrusiveness of this system, the act of moving with the knowledge of potential chastisement, makes me think that such deliberate actions suggest some stronger will needs some revamped punishment tiers.
I would have difficulty functioning with the sheer indication that my kids are attempting to overthrow my regency by overriding the household enforcements I meticulously put into place to protect them. I know that they’ll be smarter than me someday, but I hope I have a few years of hegemony left before the day arrives when they show themselves. That day, the day I am tested, would not be a fun day for anyone.
Even if it is just a jar of sugar.
The mother in “Johny Johny Yes Papa” was not present for a reason.
Iyer, Sairaj. “Vinoth Chandar: The sensational YouTube dad behind ChuChu TV’s wheels.” Sify Finance, Nov. 14, 2017, http://www.sify.com/finance/vinoth-chandar-the-sensational-youtube-dad-behind-chuchus-wheels-news-finance-rlonGrdcdfghj.html. Accessed Dec. 6, 2017.