Judge me, not my T.V.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRONpbM_w-w

Click on link before continuing on with this blog. Watch, wonder, and then read on. I’ll wait.

I love this furry little shit. Elmo’s compassion, talent and fearlessness astounds me, not to mention his uncanny ability to keep toddlers riveted to his awesomeness whether he’s tap dancing, rapping or just chillin’ with his peeps on the street. Elmo’s got game, and yes, before you start worrying about my sanity, I do realize that Elmo is a puppet. And I knew it before I saw this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlNZo10pCts&feature=player_embedded

When Spawn was a tot, he suffered from chronic ear infections, croup and a craving for the boob tube that provided me with excellent fodder for motivation/consequences. Screw “1,2,3 Magic,” my toddler responded to Start/Stop Elmo’s World and although I can’t prove it, I think Elmo’s furry goodness was a  more effective analgesic than anything I used to treat my achy little phlegm-boy.

 In the days pre-DVR when technophobes like me were still struggling with the transition to DVD’s, an Elmo’s World VHS tape from the beginning previews to closing credits gave me 55 glorious extra minutes of sleep on weekend mornings. As a working mom suffering from guilt and delusions of being a  flawless parent , the length and content of the Elmo’s World videos was perfectly acceptable example of television that I could justify even allowing my child to watch while still being perfectly perfect.

I can tell you that the fantasy bubble of out of touch/inexperienced/rookie parent burst pretty hard over the land of OHMYGOD I can’t stop throwing up and can barely stay awake because I’m stressed out, exhausted and knocked up again when my son was 3.  11 years later, I’ve learned to embrace the idiot box of cheap child care as a member of our family. Now I have the occasional twinge of guilt on the days when I’m sure that my kids are watching too much television because they are bored or I’m just too busy or I’ll be honest, too LAZY or not in the mood to interact with them.  I know what and how much television they are watching. I’ve learned to accept that the days of snuggling with strictly educational and innocent programming are over around here AND I realize this was a choice that I made as a parent. Most days I’m not sure if the twinge I feel is guilt or acid indigestion over the 100 other things that create feelings of stress and guilt in my life as I try to raise my kids.

But here’s the thing, I keep wondering if the creators of children’s television programs realize that Dora doesn’t have to yell everything and that Calliou is a complete asshole whiner whose behavior irritates as opposed to educates. Do they realize the absence of Max and Ruby’s parents is preventing their non-verbal and oppositional bunny son and bossy, stressed out bunny daughter from receiving the attention and therapy they so desperately need? Another thing, I’m telling you right now that  I would pay – CASH -  to ask the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba what kind of awesome weed they were smoking when they imagined the joy that a gigantic, nubby dildo-like creature because that kind of holy shit bizarre hilarity could only be the result of mind altering influence. Good advice on the not biting your friends bit though. That catchy tune has saved more than one of MY friends from getting bit. I think about this when I'm not watching T.V.

 Despite my complaining, I’m fascinated by the vast variety of children’s programming and I’m grateful that my kids have learned much and felt comforted and loved by familiar characters.  I love the magnificent, amazingly affordable babysitting that the idiot box provides, along with the wonderful, warm memories of my own childhood where I spent magical time in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood where I was captivated by the characters and reminded that I was special.

My point? Well, as a family negatively affected by a terrible economy, unable to afford many activities outside the home AND living in the Midwest where the cold weather forces us indoors for months at a time, I’ll keep mistaking my guilty twinges for gas bubbles stuck in my descending colon.   And when I can’t, these buzz kill realities will be offset by my continuous grateful and loving feelings toward the multi-dimensional miracle babysitter/entertainer/educator/distraction/familiar friend, the television.

Judge me.

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  • fb_avatar

    Very well put. Why should I feel the need to lie about how much T.V. my kids watch. We do exciting things, educational activities outside of the house. But when we're home the T.V. is on pretty often in the background throughout the day. It's just what we're accustomed to as a family. Probably the same for most families in America. Otherwise you would be constantly responsible for stimulating your kid from the time they wake up til the time they go to bed. That's freakin' exhausting!

  • Ok so for real I am so tired of being made to feel guilty that my kids want a day to veg out in front of the TV. When the hubs and I are doing the same thing on the weekend. We are not grossly obese or unable to get out our doors, so I think we are still functioning ok right?! (Please say yes ) hahaha

  • You are so right about Calliou and Max & Ruby. I've always had a bad habit of not letting my kids watch anything that I can't stand. Oh well! I have to see it too, or at least listen to it.

    I remember when my 15 year old was a tot and he fell in love with Blues Clues (with Steve) loved him!!! He would get upset later in the day after nap time when it wasn't on. So I got a blank VHS tape (before DVD's) and for a week or so taped every episode so we can play that freakin' tape non-stop whenever he wanted.

    Anyway, now my older boys watch older kid stuff and I cannot keep my 5 year old away. What is a mom to do?

    I am looking forward to kindergarten parent/teacher...

  • In reply to Deanne:

    my friend amber wants to know why the HELL calliou's mother can't just wear a fitted shirt. that cracked me the hell up.

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    I'm not ashamed to say that my three-year-old learned her Alphabet from Super Why and the Super Readers. Don't get me wrong, we sang the ABC's to her for the better part of her 3 years, but that show is what made it stick. And I could say that I'm very selective of what my kids watch, but that's when they're watching T.V. What about when they're present while I watch Cold Case Files every night? Their eyes are constantly seeing, their minds are constantly absorbing all throughout the day. I think if Steve from Blue's Clue's can sing a song about colors better than you can and your kids can RETAIN it, we owe him a thank you. And maybe a High Five cuz he got rhythm.

  • In reply to Jessica McGowan:

    shame is a waste of energy. it's important that you care enough to know what she is watching and learning. those songs really really do make the stuff stick, don't they? nowdays kids are expected to know all kinds of stuff even before their formal education starts. t.v. can be a great teacher.

  • I'm not a mom yet, but I have been a nanny for a few families in Chicago. Elmo is awesome...as are many of the Sesame Street Celebrity Songs. Sometimes the only thing that would keep me and the two-year-old I was watching sane in last winter was Sesame Street. There are other good shows too. I think Yo Gabba Gabba is great, despite the fact that the creators seem to be on something-- creative catchy tunes that teach good lessons.
    But, have you seen Sponge Bob? I hate that show. I think it is a good idea not to let your kids watch things that drive you nuts--especially if there are good reasons they irritate you. The thing that I could never get over was that each morning last year as I arrived at the house of "my family," got breakfast ready for them, and packed the four-year-old's lunch for pre-school, the father would watch Sponge Bob with them. That show is annoying, and the only thing it teaches is to be rude and obnoxious. TV is not always a bad thing, but just because something is "for kids" doesn't mean it is good for our kids. I am all for time with Daddy, but can't they find a better show?

  • In reply to Amy Negussie:

    sponge bob confuses me. i'm going to have to give him another shot.

  • TV is my friend. :) We have an 8 year old with ASD and SPD and he doesn't really understand the concept of creative play and he don't play with his brothers, either. He's kind of a stand alone guy most of the time, and he LOVES video games, movies, and cartoons.
    Some days, there's no other way to get anything done unless I let him watch TV for an hour or two.
    And before, when I was a single mom for 2 years, there was no way I was getting anything done by myself without TV and movies.
    It's all about monitoring the content. If the shows are good, they're fine. We watch a lot of PBS because we don't have cable, and if there's nothing on PBS, then they can watch a movie. :)

  • In reply to kantal113:

    i hear you. sometimes the only way to organize my daughter's brain seems to be the repetition of a familliar show. calming, familiar and just enough time so that she can chillax and regroup. i'm sure without t.v. we would have found other ways, but hell.........now that we have it, why not enjoy it? xo

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