Two weeks before we left Papua New Guinea, our two-year-old had absolutely no interest in watching TV. Not that we have TV per se (that would require the local broadcaster to actually pay their bills so that they are allowed to broadcast the one local channel), but we do have a dvd player in PNG. We occasionally tried to get him interested in watching a cartoon, but he would completely ignore it, except perhaps at the credits, when he would stop playing long enough to point out the "ABCs!"
But then one day Brian decided to show him part of Cars 2, and suddenly something clicked. He was glued to the screen, watching all those cars. From there it quickly branched out into Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder, thanks to some friends who loaned us episodes. Still, he didn't really identify the characters by name. He had a Thomas the Train shirt, but when people would ask him "who is on your shirt?" he would stare at them like they were stupid and then reply "choo-choo." He didn't know Thomas from any other train.
Somehow, soon after our arrival in the U.S., all of that changed. He can now name nearly all the major characters from the Cars movies and Thomas the Train. He was thrilled when I bought him a Lightening McQueen t-shirt and a Thomas the Train t-shirt. And then I found some Thomas shorts at a garage sale, and he insisted on wearing his Thomas outfit for three days straight, until I finally hid it in the bottom of my laundry basket so that I could wash it.
(Greg and one of his new best buddies, a second cousin who is also obsessed with tractors. I think this was day two of the Thomas the Train outfit.)
The other day we were walking through a big box store, and he managed to point out every single Lightening McQueen he saw on packaging (and let me tell you, that little red car is selling everything from sheets to toothpaste to fruit snacks!). I figure Greg probably would have learned the names of all these characters had we stayed in PNG, but here in America, I've come to realize just how much manufacturers take advantage of it to sell things. I think that if we were still in Papua New Guinea, he would still be fond of Thomas and Light-ma-queen, but I don't think it would be quite the obsession that it is here.
Greg playing with Uncle Darin. Notice the Lightening McQueen shirt and the Lightening McQueen toy in hand.