“Say ‘Map!’ Say ‘Map!'” Dora and Boots demanded, as if my family’s life depended on succumbing to their bilingual bullying and pretending to interact with cartoon characters we know can’t really hear us.
Seriously, Dora. Even my two-year-olds know that no matter how loudly you order us around and no matter much we ignore you, you’re still going to pull out that Map.
We know this because we can count on The Map performing a little ditty for us introducing himself roughly 500 times–you know, just in case the rolled-up piece of paper and landmarks all over it aren’t already a dead giveaway.
For my entire Dora the Explorer viewership (about a year now), I have despised this obnoxious piece of parchment, and for a while even began singing along with him using my own lyrics: “Make it stop. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stooop…”
But recently, this has all changed because the Twins have learned his song. Suddenly it went from the World’s Most Annoying Song to Just About The Cutest Thing Ever. My daughter in particular gets it stuck in her head throughout the day and busts it out while eating lunch, building puzzles, and even while sprawled out in her crib, just before falling asleep for her nap.
And so on this particular night, as The Map revealed himself onscreen, my daughter was right with him in her little pixie voice: “I na map. I na map, I na map, I na maaap.”
I’ll admit I’d just finished my second glass of wine at this point. We don’t typically crack Mommy and Daddy’s Special Juice before the kids are in bed, but it was Friday night and we’d had an especially long week, so we figured we’d get the party started a little early.
Sufficiently buzzed and succumbing to the crippling cuteness of my daughter’s singing voice, I thought I’d bury the hatchet with The Map once and for all and sing along with my daughter and my former navigational nemesis.
I looked up at the screen and began. “I’m the map, I’m the…”
And that’s when it hit me.
I stood straight up and hit “pause” on the remote, prompting my entire family to turn my way with facial expressions screaming “Why. The f*ck. Did you pause. The Map?”
“Oh my God!” I gasped, pointing at the screen. “Do you see this?”
“See what?” my wife replied, preparing to roll her eyes.
“Da Map!” my daughter answered.
“No, baby. That’s just it. Is it The Map? Or is it all just a lie?”
“What are you talking about?” asked my baffled wife.
“I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before! Here, look at this! Look at this!”
I walked right up to the screen and pointed to the singing map in the corner. “Okay, that’s The Map, right?”
“We assume he’s The Map because he sings ‘I’m The Map’ roughly 500 times, right?”
“Okay, but now look where he is!” I then traced the outer border on the screen–the border of…wait for it…THE ACTUAL MAP.
“He IS the map. So why he ON the map?” I declared proudly.
My wife stared blankly. “Because it’s a cartoon?”
“No, no, listen. Don’t you see? Just look at it. He’s a map on The Map claiming that he’s The Map, but he’s not The Map. He’s like, The Meta-Map. Don’t you see? It’s all a lie!”
“Sure, babe,” she replied, smiling politely and taking another sip of wine. “So…can we put Dora back on for the kids now?”
My son looked up from the Lego car he was building. “Daddy…play Dora…”
“Okay, fine. But I just want everyone to know that when that guy sings that song, he’s a freaking liar.”
Pushing play, I took my seat back on the couch as my wife and two children sang along with The Meta-Map:
“I’m The Map, I’m The Map, I’m The Maaap…”
Meanwhile, under my breath, I crafted a new set of lyrics:
“No you’re not, no you’re not, no you’re nooot…”
This isn’t over, Meta Map. Our children deserve the truth.
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If not, at least I’m not a liar.