Adventures with Aunt Jill

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Several weeks ago, I received a text message with a photo of a child at a dinner table, face-down on a plate. Like literally nose-to-carrot-sticks, forehead-to-fish-nuggets. The accompanying message from the child's parent read: "Moo. This is how animals eat their food, however many weeks later. Thanks, Aunt Jill."

This photo was the result of a game I like to play with my friends' children called "YouTube Roulette." It has produced a terrifying epiphany and lesson for this month's edition of Aunt Jill: Kids remember things.

Four-year-old David was reenacting a popular YouTube video called How Animals Eat Their Food. Two hipster guys "dine" at a cardboard box table. One eats like a human, while the other, slapstick-style, emulates how different animals (a whale, flamingo, lizard and so on) eat. Usually the box gets destroyed. David demanded we watch it repeatedly, as well as any other suggested video that showed up when it was finished.

This latter part of the game -clicking on a random, unknown video - is where the "Roulette" comes in. Sometimes it brings up videos that need to be immediately stopped (for example, anything that follows Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball video.) For one family, it (sadly) introduced two 5-year-olds to a series called Annoying Orange where a mouthy mouth is imposed on various fruit (avoid it at all costs).

Scantily clad women on construction equipment and talking fruit aside, the game can create some good (clean) fun on a rainy afternoon. With an iPad in one hand, a glass of wine in the other and two children on my lap, I recently played YouTube Roulette with David and his 17-month-old sister, Susie, to curate a list of the best ways to play.

Kids either love or hate What Does the Fox Say? It's the catchy question asked by Ylvis, a comedy duo from Norway. Though David usually announces he doesn't like a new video before watching it, two minutes into this one, he wants to watch again.

I haven't met a child who doesn't love Nyan Cat, the sparsely animated cat/pop tart graphic who flies through space with a rainbow following him, while endlessly meowing a repetitive tune over synthesizer music. Versions to avoid include the "10 hours" version of the video, as well as one where Nyan Cat falls in love (starts out cute, but ends in death, causing an abrupt "stop" once I realize what's happening). A great option that comes up after Nyan Cat is The Muppet Show's Mahna Mahna video. More nonsense, but this time with pink fluffy puppets. Bonus - this leads to more Muppets and then Sesame Street. Safe, entertaining and a walk down memory lane.

It may be cute overload, but you can never go wrong with puppies, kittens or laughing babies, because, well, they lead to more puppies, kittens and laughing babies. All three can keep a child mesmerized until it's time for bed and/or Aunt Jill needs a wine refill.

- Jill Moorhead doesn't have children, but borrows her friends' kids with a dual purpose: to actually see her friends, and to find ways to spoil their offspring. She writes about food in Columbus Crave and Columbus Monthly, as well as