Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yet Another Posting About My Failures as a Parent--Enjoy!

A friend passed along a book awhile back called Nap Time is the New Happy Hour. It's a funny collection of essays discussing the joys and absurdities of raising toddlers. The author talks a lot about the vino, which makes her my kind of gal.

One of my favorite quotes from the author regards television. She says that whenever a fellow mom tells you how much TV her son or daughter watches, you need to double it. Then, you'll have the accurate answer.

So folks, do the math: Owen watches at least an hour and a half of TV a day.

Egads. When did this happen? When Owen was a baby, he watched no TV. None. Nada. Zippo. When we went to playgroups where the television was on, I would either turn him around so he wasn't facing the screen or politely ask the host to turn to the TV off.

I know. I was really that self-righteous. I was really that smug.

I avoided TV because I did not want to become a stereotypical stay-at-home-mother, addicted to Oprah, or heaven forbid, Guiding Light. Plus, Owen was a baby. He couldn't even focus his eyes for a good six months. What television, educational or not, could he possible need? I had certainly read enough inflammatory articles explaining that TV leads to Obesity! ADHD! Violence! that I was convinced of my virtue.

Once Owen was walking, we started to allow a bit of TV, starting with an Elmo DVD here or there. Elmo was our gateway drug. As Owen got more active, more prone to tantrums or other such foolishness, we moved on to the harder stuff: Blue's Clues, The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and of course, Diego.

It's not that we didn't enjoy spending time with our exuberant young man. But, for the Love Of All Things Good and Holy, sometimes he just needed to Chill Out.

One press of the button and ahhhhhhhhhh....quiet.

The last months of my pregnancy added to Owen's television addiction. When I was eight months pregnant, in June (90% humidity, people!), I would lay on the couch and focus on keeping my eyes open. Owen, meanwhile, would watch Cars. Sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit, more than once a day.

When Joel entered the picture, I needed my tumor, I mean firstborn son, to give me some space. Understandably threatened by his small, needy, constantly nursing brother, Owen would drape himself on me like a spider monkey ALL THE TIME. I literally couldn't breathe. Thankfully, Diego was a good substitute for Mommy during those first blurry months.

Now, Joel is eight months old, and there is no reason for Owen to watch three hours of television a day. We're going to wean this kid off the hard stuff.

I know that I'll probably never be one of those parents that bans TV outright. I would like to be the hippie mom that has her kids make butterfly habitats or spin their own yarn, but I just don't know if it's in my DNA.

Moderation in all things. In this case, I'm going to be the parent, turn the TV off, and encourage Owen to shake the dust out of his eyes and try to make his own fun.

Without Diego.


Brian Bindschadler said...

We were pretty "non-electronic" parents for a long time, but somewhere along the way we broke down and all three kids are much more digital than I ever thought they'd be (television, internet, and Connor even has a video game system). On the other hand, Carrie's probably one of the few high school freshman in America who doesn't have a cell phone - so I guess we're still a little bit stodgy.

Coby Goesling said...

Shayne and I are pretty anal about this. We prefer non-battery operated toys, but the grandparents ruined this plan! Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures!

Rich said...

Perhaps we should form a support group ;O) -Dawn

Trudy Woodland said...

I have found a bit of a loop hole on this one. The kids love to watch video of themselves. In an attempt to modify their behavior, I let them watch video of themselves doing great things(such as counting,sharing..) as I cheer them on. I get my "chill out" time and feel less guilty.

On another note: Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement. I can't tell you how deeply it's touched my heart. You are a wonderful person Nancy.