I am sitting on the couch next to my boy as he watches t.v. He is laughing, eating a snack and…contained. In this moment, I am remembering my pre-child self. I swore up and down that my kid would not watch any t.v. until he was at least five and, then, only occasionally. As it turns out, t.v is the cheapest babysitter in town. If the sink is full of dishes (as it was twenty minutes ago) or if the laundry needs folding (like it did yesterday) or if Mama needs to bathe (as I do regularly), a show makes it all possible.
For a long time, I felt guilt turning on the boob-tube. My boy would zone out so intensely that I would have to turn the show off and shake him a little to bring him back to us. At the time (when he was between one and two-years old), I told myself that it was the educational aspects of shows that made it o.k. for him to watch. In reality, it was the down-time the twenty-seven minutes afforded me that was the true benefit.
He does learn from these shows. He knows his letters and numbers and is starting to try to spell. Now that he is older (2.75…so old), he is starting to interact with the shows. He puts his hand in when they tell him to. He says his name out-loud when asked. He might dance a little if they are singing a catchy tune.
Mostly, these shows give me the time I need to sit on my ass for a few minutes or to keep my house from going over the edge of utter despair (we live dangerously near that edge way too much of the time). So, if I could talk to my pre-child self who judged friends for allowing their kids to watch t.v. and who swore to never do the same, I would tell myself to shut-up. My kid is growing up smart and funny and outgoing and inquisitive and much more. Relax, Betsy. Just relax.
Sometimes I crave Survivor or The Amazing Race or Revenge or any number of guilty pleasures that have no educational value whatsoever. I imagine M is the same. Sometimes, a little veg-time is just the break our brains need.
You know what? M will be fine. I grew up on Fraggle Rock and The Smurfs and I think I am fine (most days). Now that I have the hang of this parenting thing (sarcasm intended), I am working on being gentler with myself and my expectations. How about you?