Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Lady of Dora the Explorer

This morning Maggie got dressed all by herself, the whole shebang, even the socks and shoes.  Oliver ran into the bathroom where I was getting out of the shower to tell me about it. “Maggie got dressed all by herself,” he said. “Isn’t that impressive?”

Um, that’s a three syllable word, people. I don’t mean to brag, but that’s impressive. Maybe it’s all those New Yorker articles we read to them before bed.

Or maybe it has something to do with the lack of TV.  They saw nary a screen flicker until they were almost three and now they watch only DVDs (including the never-ending Thomas the Tank Engine--Oh My GOD but that’s boring) and only now and then. As far as I know, they’ve never seen a commercial.

Before you think I’m some insufferable, holier-than-thou ass wipe, I just want to say that although I was mostly on board with the no-TV rule, The Mister and I had some real blow-ups over his Stalinesque adherence to our self-imposed hardship (the path to the people’s liberation is through interminable hours of PlayDough kitchen!). I mean, can’t a mother get a break once in a while?  What’s the harm in putting on 30 minutes of Dora while you grab a little shut-eye, or mix an old-fashioned?

Actually, I can answer that: the harm is in how easy it is.  I had heard about the whole TV-as-babysitter model, but until I tried it I had no idea.  I had NO idea. It’s like a miracle. The closest I’ve come to real silence in the last three years is when I put on a copy of Sesame Street’s Learning Letters. I sometimes watch as my little angles sit rapt and motionless in front of the TV and wonder why I made it so hard on myself for so long.  This whole time I could have been showering, or brushing my teeth, or even returning emails!

I can’t get that time back.  But maybe there is some consolation to be found in the fact that my kids love books and have great vocabularies and know how to catch chickens. 

Or maybe your kids grew up on a steady diet of The Bachelorette and I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant and could recite pi to its 23rd digit by age two.  Feel free to put me in my place if so.


Simply Mel said...

We have also chose to raise our little girl with no television. In fact, we have been without it for more than 3 years, and she is just now 18 months old. It was a life-sucker for us, and we knew we didn't want her to be one of those 'mouth-breathers' in front of the t.v. Many of our older friends who raised bright, articulate, social, book loving, and very successful kids also adopted the no t.v. way of life, and their children who are now in either in college, working in great industry/fields and/or married are some of the greatest 'kids' we know. This doesn't mean all the kids who did stare at Mtv or other tv shows all day are not smart or succesful, we just notice the strong correlation and the strong relationship the kids have with their parents. They talk, they listen, they communicate. Maybe if every channel on the t.v. was PBS or a documentary on nature, science, foreign languages, history, or art - it might be a different song we would sing?!?!

Up Mama's Wall said...

Part of the reason we decided to go TV-free with our kids is because we noticed the same thing. So many of our favorite kids (some are now grown) were raised without TV. And the parent/child relationship is really striking. Dare I say, kids without TV seem to be less bratty (although my own kids do test that theory now and again, believe me).
I'm curious to hear from others.

Laura Shoaf said...

We are strict on the TV as well (as your triplet, you would expect no less). We allow some 'bust my boilers' Thomas and a show here called Pocoyo but it is narrated by Stephen Fry so we feel ok about that. As for less bratty, I wish, but we can always hope.

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