Friday, August 11, 2006

All-Time Parenting Low

Today, exhausted from being awake last night from midnight to six a.m. experiencing ominous achy pre-labor cramps and holding a light-up clock for timing what could either have been Braxton-Hicks contractions or the real thing (update: not the real thing. yet.), and then having been awakened by Julia after only an hour's afternoon nap for both of us, prompting me to burst into tears, I actually INTERRUPTED HER IMAGINATIVE PLAY to utter the words, "Honey, do you want to go downstairs and watch your Sesame Street DVD?"

(To fully understand the low to which I had indeed sunk, you have to understand that we generally don't allow Julia to watch TV; she owns this one and only educational DVD, and she watches it maybe a couple of times a month for a half hour at a time at most.)

I could actually feel myself cringing as the words escaped my mouth. It was so sad the way she froze in the middle of her "swimming in the big blue ocean" pretend play, considered my question, said, "Yeah!" and ran toward the stairs with what could only have been confused joy. Then she stood by the TV watching raptly while I laid on the couch and fell asleep during each song. Yes, I halted my baby's active, creative game to plant her sedentarily in front of a SCREEN--something, I can tell you, she really, really does not need, since all of her most beloved activities just happen to be of the extremely sedentary variety (coloring, reading books, having tea party, playing Play-Dough, chalk drawing) and I've become physically unable to do anything active with her during the day in recent weeks so she's getting next to no exercise most of the time.

Oy vey. I'm torn between wanting this pregnancy to end as soon as possible, because this week I suddenly became absolutely worthless for anything other than lying down, and hoping the baby holds out long enough for us to have childcare in place for Julia during our hospital stay.


Heidi said...

One time, when I was a "new mom" w/ Logan, Greg came home from work and I was very disappointed in myself for having let him watch more TV than we preferred (though we never succeeded in being as teetotaling as you have managed to be, more power to ya). Know what he said? "You used the resources you had available to you at the time. Sometimes those resources come from within you; sometimes they come from outside of you."

Trust me, a little extra TV in the whole scheme of very minimal screen time overall will *not* stunt my little genius-niece's brain development. If you let her sit there for 3 hrs. a day or more, every day, yes. But not like this. And, believe me, you *will* have to rely on TV again...and again...over the first few months when Baby needs *so* much attention, Julia needs some pacifying, and when Baby isn't yet to the point of being drawn into it herself.

You and I watched TV as babes and toddlers and preschoolers--not nearly as much as some of our peers, thank goodness--and Greg gives me a bad time when I don't know all the widely known TV characters of the '70s, but it's really a *good* thing--and we came out pretty darn good, wouldn't you say? No ADHD, no autism. Julia and her sister will be fine, and so will you. (For good --and sometimes for ill--there is no parenting jail for letting your kid watch TV.)

You do what you gotta do. Cut yourself some slack.

(AND I am convinced that *some* of Logan's magnificent early vocabulary was directly *due* to words he used on select videos--expressions that we would not have been using regularly around the house. AND Sesame Street has helped kids learn letters and numbers for decades. At least you're not sitting her down in front of "Days of Our Lives" or "Friends" or "Dukes of Hazard.")

Heidi said...

Come to think of it, you might want to "stock up" on a few other, *different* DVD's, so she doesn't--and YOU don't--get sick to death of the same old one! Go for a Baby Einstein w/ classical music, or a different Sesame Street, a Bear in the Big Blue House, or some such thing. Say it w/ me now: "It's. Oh. Kay."!!!!!!

Shan said...

I LOVE Greg's comment! So, so true--that perfectly describes my situation the other day! (Thanks, Greg!) You're probably right about other DVDs----I'll go nuts pretty soon hearing the same Sesame Street songs over and over!!!

Jordan said...

Having just pulled the TV out of the closet the other day myself, I can say with certainty that there are times when it can truly save your sanity. The best part about having media-starved children is that they actually sit there completely rapt for a short video or Sesame Street episode, oblivious to all else in the world, and you truly do get a short break.

Now, sure, you can make it without TV - we've gone months without it, including when Lyle was a newborn. But your sister is right - it is not going to hurt anyone, and for a child who gets as much parental love and attention as Julia, it will only add to her ever-growing vocabulary and conceptual development. The main reason we just put it away most of the time is because it's such a treat that Baxter starts begging for it and having fits about watching shows if it's been out for a while and it appears to be "available".