A staffer admits his 20-month-old son has fallen hard for a kooky carrot-top singer -- and now he kinda likes her, too

By Jeff Labrecque
Updated March 15, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Enabling my son’s addiction… to Laurie Berkner

As a parent, I knew this day was inevitable: Our first-born, Sam, is head over heels in love. When the object of his affection is around, he can’t take his eyes off her, and when she leaves, I can see the tears well up in his blue eyes. Her name is Laurie, and she has curly red hair and an effervescent smile. She’s super-sweet, but she’s older than Sam, and I worry he’s more into this relationship than she is. After all, he’s only 20… months old.

My wife and I have no one to blame but ourselves. We introduced Sam to Laurie Berkner, the pixie Pied Piper of kid rock, after we heard raves from the neighborhood Mom-fia. While we’re somewhat neurotic about Sam’s exposure to television, music is a constant presence in our apartment. So instead of purchasing her popular DVD, we compromised with a single video download of Laurie’s ”Victor Vito” from iTunes. The connection was instant. Sam sat mesmerized as Laurie and her band (keyboardist Susie Lampert and bassist Brian Mueller) introduced Victor and Freddie Vasco, who ate a burrito with Tabasco. They put it on their rice. They put it on their beans. On their rutabagas and on their collard greens…

It seemed harmless enough until I noticed I was singing the song in the shower. On the bus. While doing laundry. In the car. The tune just wouldn’t go away. And if I couldn’t get it out of my head, you can imagine how Sam responded. A single viewing wasn’t enough for him. Before long, we had to watch it three, four times in a row, and even then, Sam pitched a fit for another encore. For our own sanity, we downloaded Laurie’s ”Walk Across the River” to introduce some variety. Since iTunes tallies how many times a song or video is played, I can officially confirm that Sam’s now experienced ”Victor Vito” 214 times (and counting). ”Walk Across the River” is closing in fast, at 151.

At this point, we thought it best if Sam started seeing other people. Things were simply getting too serious with Laurie. I explained to him that Laurie was married (to Mueller) and that she had a little girl who was closer to his age. He pretended not to understand. If anything, her unavailability only seemed to make Sam love her more. Rebound encounters with the music videos of Dan Zanes, Lisa Loeb, and even Moose A. Moose & Zee went nowhere. Sam would violently shake his head when their music began and slam our computer keyboard until Laurie appeared or the CAPS LOCKED key popped off, whichever came first.

Thanks to kids’ websites like Noggin.com, Sam’s knowledge of the Laurie Berkner catalog continues to grow. He now stomps around the apartment to Laurie’s ”We are the Dinosaurs,” and buzz-buzz-buzzes to her ”Bumblebee” song. His parents have reluctantly changed their tune: We’ve come to terms with his addiction (despite the Mayday meltdowns that accompany Laurie-withdrawal), and can honestly say we totally appreciate Laurie’s fun, catchy music as something we can all share together. After my lobotomy, we’re even considering taking Sam to a live show next time Laurie’s tour comes to town. It will be like the Beatles at Shea Stadium all over again. With Tabasco.

So tell us, has Laurie Berkner or another singer entranced your toddler? Do you find yourself humming those same kids’ tunes in the office? What boundaries have you set for television and computer use, and how do you deal with the inevitable fits that erupt when it’s time to turn them off? Share your experiences below.