Forgive me Father for I have sinned, a crime of parenting so heinous that it can barely be spoken of. I confess, we have a TV in our house and that we turn it on and that sometimes, yes, sometimes our son watches it. I pray this is not one of the seven deadly parenting sins but I can’t help it – the flesh is weak. I do know that children should not watch TV before they are 2, which my son just turned, and even then their TV viewing should be curbed. Yes, may heaven strike me down; my toddler has been known to watch TV. I have now doomed him to mediocre SATs and a state school before he is even out of diapers. How could I allow this? Have I not read the studies and done the research into all that it takes to raise a competent adult. Apparently not. I was too busy watching TV.
It all started innocently enough with the Minnesota Twins and being trapped at home most of that first summer together: a social pariah due to a raging case of prematurity. And infants, as you may recall, are not that interactive. Of their three main purposes in life, one is messy, one is demanding and the other is rather boring. So we parents watched the MN Twins play and dreamt of being at a ballgame with a crowd of people (and a beer?). And as his head control got better and he started hanging out in his exersaucer more often his eyes were drawn to the bright green expanse of the unnatural Metrodome floor. They would flick quickly away much like my parental guilt. He was really too young to notice.
Little did I know that baseball was a gateway drug to bigger and badder shows. “But look how he response to the voices” I said of the Sing-Off, or American Idol. “Look he laughed as the contestants fell in WipeOut! He has a great sense of comedic timing!”
As I realized the error in my ways we resorted to kid’s programming hoping to at least add some learning to the table. Imagine my horror when instead of wholesome Muppets singing about numbers a whole new host of horrors attacked my senses – inane pop singing at the hands of the Fresh Beat Band, sex-toy shaped monsters prancing about talking about “parties in their tummies,” whiny bald-headed boys with theme songs so catchy that it runs through your head at 3am as you toss and turn to escape, animals spelled out of letters who should just build the word M-O-N-E-Y and get some better digs. They were enough to send my previous derision of Barney packing. Oh you purple dinosaur, I’ve missed your creepy “I love yous.”
We slowly found a balance however, some shows that we as parents could stand. Sid the Science Kid is tolerable with a great teacher-to-student preschool ratio. I imagine I would have applied for that preschool on the day of Edward’s conception however, not to mention the added animation fees. Wonder Pets save the day and the music at least harkens to real music too – if I have to hum along then at least that doesn’t make me want to slit my wrists. And Sesame Street still exists of course with an increased Grover presence balancing out the Elmo bias just enough to stand.
Still, even in my confession I admit as a part of my penance that we are trying to cut back, at least until baseball season, just 25 days away.