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Real Reality from Our House: Kids' TV ground rules gradually abandoned

By Tracy Herz

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There was a time when I turned my nose up at a woman with grown children who tipped me off that television is a good baby sitter.

I looked at her sadly IN MY IDEALISTIC FOG and said, "Well, that's such a shame. We have to watch very carefully what goes into little eyes and ears."

Hypocrite!

We started with videos -- all carefully screened of course -- to determine that absolutely nothing was anything less than totally innocent. And no one could watch anything until they were older than 2 -- the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This nonsense led to an upstairs-downstairs upside-down, highly impractical situation where someone was always running all over the place shouting, "Is everyone asleep so Freddy Jr. can watch Lassie?!"

This incessant management defeats the purpose of television, which is to get everyone to shut up.

When the third one comes along, you just sit them all down in front of the television.

We allow PBS Kids -- as much as they want -- except for "Sid the Science Kid" who has dreadlocks and a smart mouth with his parents.

We stood firm on one thing: no commercials and no commercial television, even if it is designed for kids. The downstairs television is for them. The upstairs television is for us. You watch what we tell you to watch, or no one watches anything because noses go into the corner for whining. Somehow at least this is working out.

The progressive stimulation set in motion by television has led to more sophisticated tastes in the children, such as "The Lone Ranger."

We are much too old to buy into the notion that playing Lone Ranger and Tonto will lead to a life of crime and racism. Nonetheless, this was edgy for us. So we perched on the edge of the chairs and watched them all watch the "Lone Ranger" and analyzed every reaction.

So now they are "pretend fighting."

Big deal.

Then somehow, someway, someone found out about James Bond.

By this time we both were very much in need of Meals on Wheels and so completely exhausted that we just said, "Fine. You want to watch this incessant gunfire? Go for it. Just give us a break."

We conferred and said between ourselves they can watch the OLD ONES. Nothing too bad in those except a lot of guns, a lot of violence and a lot of making out. We can justify this. They are boys.

But for some unknown reason no one runs around the house shouting "Diamonds Are Forever" or "Casino Royale" or "Die Another Day" or "From Russia with Love" or "Dr. No."

However, they do run around the house shouting "Octopussy! Octopussy! Octopussy!"

Which means that they will run all over the schools shouting "Octopussy!"

Which means that somehow I am going to be in trouble.

No one will blame my husband for this. Men don't get blamed for anything.

Now my 4-year-old looks at me seriously and says, "Take off your nightgown now, Mommy."

This could be at 4 in the afternoon when I am often still in a nightgown.

My 5-year-old likes to "give juicies" all the way up my arm.

Who knows what's going on with their little brother.

We continue to discuss the merits and demerits of James Bond for the kindergarten preschool set.

"Well at least if someone hits them, they will fight back," I say.

"Well, at least they will learn to appreciate beautiful women," my husband says.

"Well at least they will know that some people are good, and some people are bad," I say.

"Well at least they will learn to remain cool in a crisis," my husband says.

"Well at least they will shut their mouths for a little while," I reply.

Reach Tracy Herz at tracyherz@gmail.com.


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