Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mom vs TV

I am not a perfect woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister or friend. Ask any of my friends or family. No one was more shocked than I when the hospital sent me home with a small, defenseless newborn with no professional or adult supervision. But somehow, by the grace of God, she survived. Everyone around me had an opinion to offer. And they all contradicted each other. I knew the basics - keep her clothed, bathed, fed, safe and comfortable. We baby proofed every inch of our house. Back then, I had a "friend" with a child the same age. She had an 'opinion' on everything we bought and did. Our car seat, stroller, car, clothing, sunscreen, sleep patterns and food choices were wrong. Apparently, the way we sliced bananas was playing Russian Roulette with our child's life. Update - she survived and still eats bananas. Everyone around me seemed to have a handle on this parenting thing but me. Was I doing everything wrong? What are the odds that every single thing we did and bought were wrong? I tried to shrug off the comments but they were always there in the back of my fried mommy brain. This was a good friend, I thought. She wouldn't say these things just to upset me, right? Sara seemed healthy and happy. We knew about the evils of TV. It sucks the IQ points right from their little brains and turns them into terrorists. Our solution was simple. We gated off the TV room and she never knew what she was missing. Things changed when she turned 3. We started loosening our rules about TV. She was allowed to watch a cartoon while I took my "mommy shower" - 'the 5 minute soap and shampoo everything at once and hope it all gets rinsed off-shower'. Or sometimes I turned it on if I needed to make an important phone call and the other person didn't want to hear her sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" 11 times like her grandfather. When she turned 4 and her little brother was born, the reins got loosened even more. She could watch TV before school if she got ready early. She could play on the computer so I could take a 30 minute cat-nap. Somehow, super-mom/friend got wind of this and 'gently' reminded me of the evils of TV. Ironically, at the same time, Sara was tested for giftedness and has an amazingly high IQ. We didn't change our viewing habits, but my guilt about it increased.

The kids are older. I'm older and wiser. We moved away and I learned that my "friend" was no friend at all. Friends help each other. Friends make each other feel good. Friends help each other. Friends don't judge. They sympathize and support.

I know that a little TV isn't going to kill them, rot their brains or turn them into criminals. I monitor what they watch very closely. We control how much they watch. I'm sure our babysitters would love to plop them down in front of the TV and text their friends. They all know that is not allowed. When they are sick, I struggle with how much TV to allow. Christian is fighting a cold, cough, fever and runny nose. His coughing is keeping him up at night and messing up his naps. He is tired and cranky. I've been letting him watch a cartoon or 2 so he will sit on the couch and rest. Some might say that I am a bad parent because I think that a sick kid needs to veg out on the couch and watch some Elmo. And those people need to mind their own business. And I need to toughen up and not let them get to me.

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