First things first, let me get something clear – when I say ‘my’ love-hate relationship with the idiot-box, I also mean Little Man’s relationship with the concerned item. He’s too little to blog about it himself; and well, I’m talking about how his relationship with the telly affects me (both positively and negatively) – hence ‘my’…
Disclaimer number two. I say idiot-box/ telly but I’m referring to technology in general. Phones (the smart kind only; even Little Man discards a phone that doesn’t ‘swipe’), tablets, anything else that will be the next big thing in years (months?) to come that visually and auditorily stimulates even a toddler.
And clarification number 3 – ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are probably too strong emotions to put to a television, but in this case I think they’re appropriate because of the significant impact the TV has on both Little Man’s and my life.
Which brings me to the point of this seemingly distorted post. Rewind to when Little Man was a newborn baby. Or further still to when he was still kicking away in my tummy. The days when mums-to-be/ new mums make resolutions about how they want or don’t want their baby/ toddler to turn out. I remember telling myself that I will not let my child see TV until he’s one year old. After that it will be controlled watching, probably half an hour in the morning and another half in the evening.
Who was I kidding?! There are days now when he sees more TV in one day than I get to watch in a week! Agree it’s my fault and I don’t blame anyone else, but hello, I’m only human (though I agree with those who say mums are often superwomen!). There’s only so much I (or most mums) can do to entertain a toddler. ALL DAY LONG.
Breakfast is done, we’ve played cars and garage, done a bit of colouring, read a book, had races (Little Man on his Pirate Ship and I on his bus – yes I do fit on it), done five rounds of ‘Ringa ringa roses’, skyped with the grandparents… and it’s only 10.30. AM! He wants more. I want a break. Now this is when I LOVE the telly… it allows me that much-needed break!
I also LOVE it when I need to finish making lunch, get things done around the house, make an important phone call or just shower in peace. Another LOVE moment is when I need Little Man to get dressed for nursery as we had to be out the door 10 minutes ago. And I especially LOVE it when I want him to eat his lunch/dinner in a reasonable time-frame. (I know it’s a terrible habit but when push comes to shove, most exhausted mums will shove).
Blame it on today’s techno-savvy generation (still amazes me how a one-year-old can swipe a phone or tablet on but cannot read/ write/ talk as yet) or modern/ lazy parenting but IT WORKS. For me and millions of other mums out there. I’ve seen nine out of ten toddlers eat their meals in front of the telly, veggies et al. Clean plate. I see two kinds of mums at shopping malls – the first lot who are constantly running after or appeasing a whining/ bored toddler while vowing never to come shopping with a toddler again; and the second who have bags of shopping hanging on the buggies while their toddlers are peacefully and contentedly playing on mum’s phone/ I-pad. Bottomline – IT WORKS.
Do I feel guilty? Yes.. Because I know as a mother I can do more to keep my child entertained in other ways. I can play one more game. Read one more book. Take him to the park everyday. But I also know that I will burn out. And be too frazzled to enjoy the park and the games. And will never get anything done around the house. I know I need balance and fortunately or unfortunately, it’s the telly that restores this balance. So there, I’ve said it: that’s why I probably HATE the idiot-box but then the feeling subsides quicker than I expected!
As for Little Man, well, he LOVES it. Much more than I would like him to. He might even be addicted (the other night he sort of awoke at 4 am and I swear he said ‘TV, I want TV!!!). But what gives me some sort of consolation is the fact that he’s learning so much from what he sees on TV too. New words, new concepts, the actions to his favourite songs. Shapes, numbers, colours. He’s not just listening to the television, but interacting with it. Now that’s a good thing, right?
So while I know the idiot-box is not the best thing for a two-year-old, I have come to realise that it’s not the worst either. The battle I face now isn’t so much about whether the telly should be on or off; rather about for how long it should be on and when on, what Little Man is seeing. And absorbing. That ball’s still in my court and IT WORKS. I have now made peace with that long-standing piece of equipment that stands tall in the living room.
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