Enough with the TV Already, UGH!
Here’s why I’m kind of full of it (and “it” stands for “BS” which stands for “BALONEY SAUSAGE” which stands for “nonsense”). At least I was full of nonsense when it came to TV watching.
When I was a new mom to Gloria 15 years ago I was determined to ensure she had virgin eyes and didn’t stare at a TV for hours on-end. I wanted her to look at art, flowers, my face, beautiful blocks, leaves, snow, good food, etc. etc. But TV? Not my kid! At the time, I was annoyed that a close friend of mine was on a campaign to convince me that Baby Einstein videos were so important for new babies to watch because: Einstein. Who doesn’t want their baby to be as whip smart as good old Albert? (Yeah because babies watching TV will make that happen…and probably Albert spent a good deal of time in his crib watching movies. I mean, c’mon people…)
But I didn’t buy into it. I didn’t want to plop my baby in front of a TV so I could get stuff done. Although looking back I probably could have used the help because I spent many late nights awake at 2:00 am trying to get on top of everything as a Super Single Mama. In case you’re not quite sure what a Super Single Mama is, here’s the working definition: A Super Single Mama is a mother who does not have a partner, husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or anyone to help her carry the load of parenting. I did not have every other weekend off of parenting. There was no “dad” for Gloria. There were no child support checks coming in. It was me and me. And also me. I was the only parent every single day, every single hour, every single year. Year after year.
(Truth be told I bristle when friends complain about being a “single parent” because they’re not only getting every Thursday and every other weekend OFF of parenting to get a break, but they’re also receiving money from their child’s other parent so I find it challenging to drum up a lot of sympathy for their situation.)
Oh and did I mention that by the time my daughter was a year old my sister moved from down the street from me in Iowa to way across the country to LA and my parents moved a 14-hour drive away (from the 3-hour away house they lived in). So, yeah, thanks a lot family! But seriously I adore my family so much and they were living their truths and I was figuring out how to be the super hero of Super Single Mamahood so it all worked out.
I share this only to give you an idea of a) how very much work it is to be a Super Single Mama and b) to reflect on how justified I would have been had I put my child in front of the TV every so often so I could catch a frickin’ break. Now that I’m parenting with someone I am realizing how much work it really, truly was to parent completely alone. Oh my word. Sleeping was optional for about 4 years. I woke up one day and realized I hadn’t gotten my haircut in over 2 years. I used to train for marathons and I’d push my baby for a 10-mile run and stop to nurse her along the route because I was insane. I started a garden and would spend entire Saturdays freezing vegetables for winter use because that’s a good idea. There would be entire Saturdays where all I would do is read book after book after book to Gloria under a tree until my throat was raw and I started slurring my words. I was so alone that it was no problem to plan a weekend where I’d pull Gloria in a wagon for 8 miles around the city going from the Farmer’s Market to the park to the library to the river to pick up my food stamps to another park and finally back home.
But I digress.
So Gloria didn’t watch TV until she was 4. I will never forget watching her watch TV for the first time. She was mesmerized and kept looking to me to make sure it was a) okay and b) for real! But of course I had rules around which shows she could watch: she could only watch cartoons on PBS Kids or Seinfeld episodes. That’s it. Also, only TV on days when there was no school the following day, so Friday nights and Saturdays was it for TV viewing.
And that was basically the rule for about 5 years: Weekend TV of either PBS Kids or Seinfeld (and PS: Gloria has the best sense of humor…I wonder why?). Then along came Harold. Harold and Gloria are 10 years apart. In that decade, so very much has changed with how and what children can consume in terms of screen time. I mean we have to call it “screen time” now because it isn’t just TV—there are iPhones and iPads and iMacs and MacBooks in the mix now. We don’t even have an actual TV anymore…we have a screen and projector so things are different.
But my little hippie mama self is not so different. We still have the no-TV-unless-on-the-weekend rule (for both children and adults in this household) but what we didn’t have was any kind of interesting boundary in place for screen time during the weekend.
And this is what happened:
Read this rest of this post where I write at Living Enough.