Essay by Stacy Bolt

Dear Dora,

You and I need to have a little talk before this thing gets out of hand. I don’t know who introduced you to my son, or why, but I think we can all agree that the damage has been done. Now it’s just a matter of containing it.

I realize that I’m as much to blame for this situation as anyone. For the first 18 months of his life, he never watched television. And I was as smug and self-righteous about that as any cloth-diapering, New Seasons-shopping, hemp-wearing mommybot. But then he started walking. And climbing. And dismantling expensive home electronics with the eerie precision of an Army Ranger taking apart and reassembling his rifle in the dark. I needed help. Just a few minutes, I told myself. Just a few minutes of peace so I could get something done.

So I turned on the television.

Before I knew it, that few minutes turned into an hour a day, then two. And as much as I try to get him to watch shows that don’t make me want to light my own hair on fire, nothing holds his attention like you, Dora. When he watches you, he falls into an altered state of consciousness. His eyes glaze over and his mouth hangs open, the pacifier dangles from his tongue by a thin thread of saliva. Nothing — not the sound of the phone ringing or the vacuum running or a cocktail shaker shaking — will rouse him from this trance until the end credits roll. I have to admit, at first, it was kind of awesome.

But that’s not the point. The point is that you hold a significant amount of power over millions of toddlers. And you’re using it for evil. I came face to face with the true nature of your evil just last week when my son had a bad case of the croup and could do little else but lay on the couch barking like a seal and watching you, Dora. For hours on end. Hours and hours and hours. And because I am not the worst mother in the world, I sat there with him and watched. For hours and hours and hours. “Surely this has to be against the Geneva Convention?” I wondered, as I fought back the urge to stab my own eyes out with a nearby thermometer. And then I realized the truth. You aren’t a form of torture, Dora. No. You’re much, much worse than that. You are the Devil himself. And the evidence is right there for anyone to see:

First, there’s the yelling. Every word that leaves your mouth comes out at a volume that rivals that guy from the Oxy Clean commercials. And we all know that the Devil doesn’t have an inside voice.

Second, your deformed head. A sweet, innocent bilingual child who just wants to help people solve their problems would not have a head shaped like a giant, hydrocephalic lemon. But as we all know, the Devil takes on many forms.

And finally, the songs. Every episode of your show features the same hackneyed, repetitive songs. Sometimes we have to listen to them multiple times in a single episode. And it’s not like you don’t have the money to hire a decent lyricist. So why not pay someone to write something a little more challenging than “I’m a map, I’m a map, I’m a map, I’m a map, I’m a maaaaaaap!”? At first I thought it might be because you needed that money to pay for cranial reduction surgery. Or maybe Boots the Monkey was embezzling it to fund his obvious crack habit. But no. Those songs are soul-sucking on purpose, aren’t they Dora? Because you’re brainwashing our children to do your bidding, aren’t you? Someday soon you’re going to say the trigger word — let me guess: backpack — and they’re all going to rise up and kill us in our sleep, leaving the world to be run by toddlers. Our infrastructure will collapse like a full diaper. Our currency will be stickers and juice boxes. Pink Barbie Hummers will run wild in the streets. The entire universe will be thrown into a state of pure id which will, of course, pave the way for your triumphant return.

Well played, Dora. Or should I say que bueno? But know this, little girl: you and I aren’t through. I have seen the number of the beast and it is seis, seis, seis. I defy you, Explorer. In my strong right hand I hold the flaming sword of the archangels and in my left, the remote. I’m going to limit my son to one episode a day. I’m going to stand firm in my ban on licensed Dora products in my home. And until the day comes when you take on your true form, I’m going to keep trying to get him to watch something else. Anything else. Look sweetie! There’s Elmo! He’s so cute! What could be wrong with Elmo…