TV or No TV?

That is this mommy’s question.

Let me start with this:  my two year-old is obsessed with letters and numbers and puzzles.

I need more puzzles.  The heavy, 24 piece, toddler-proof puzzles.  Most of the puzzles I have are just matching shapes.  She likes to make pictures.  I’ll do it once or twice with her and then she takes over.  If she sees puzzles in the store, she wants them.  She wants them all, just like me.  I can’t wait until she’s older and we can work on 1000 piece Photomosaics together.

I had the letter alphabet blocks and we started playing with those periodically before she was two.  Little did I know she was an alphabet sponge.  Sponge, I tell you.  For her second birthday, her babysitter bought a Leap Frog Fridge Phonics alphabet toy.  Between that, the blocks, and her need for me to repeatedly write out the alphabet on her Magna doodle, Maya could put the letters in order within a couple of weeks.

When we go to the store or drive around town, she yells out the letters we see.  Her favorite is “M”.  We started playing an alphabet version of I-Spy.  She loves it.  It can be annoying when a great song comes on the radio and I want to drive and sing along to it and pretend I have a normal life.  Maya doesn’t allow it though.  When I try to play the great song on youtube, she takes over the computer and makes me play We Are Young by Fun. and she sings along to it.  It’s hilarious to hear her sing (her version), “time bar closes feel like falling down, carry you hone (not a typo, she sings hone) tonight.”  But man, that song is seriously overplayed.

Anyway, I need to buy more magnetic letters because her name has two A’s and she can only find one to spell it.  It irritates her.  She can only spell a few other words, but I think that’s more than anything I could do at two.  I’m helping her sound out words when we read Dr. Seuss books, which, by the way, make my mouth go dry.  Good Lord.  You think you’re almost finished reading the book and then you realize there’s like 40 more pages to go.  That’s a lot of rhyming.

Josh helps out, too.  He made her sound out “boob.”  I wasn’t impressed.

We work on the number thing almost every day.  I don’t push it because I want her to think it’s fun.  Apparently she does because she wants to count if she’s not spitting out her abc’s.  She’s up to 20 now and can recognize all the numbers when I write them out or when she sees them on the signs above the isles at Walmart.  I’m starting to work in a bit of addition and subtraction, like when I give her pieces of our favorite food in the world:  cheese.  My pediatrician once told me I should get her involved with as much math as possible as early as possible.  I concur.  She needs to know at an early age if some older kid is trying to cheat her out of pieces of cheese.

Why am I mentioning all of this?  Just to brag?  No.  Well, okay.  Maybe just a teeny bit because I think she’s pretty damn smart.  I mention all of this because I constantly break the cardinal rule (a no-no) for raising “smart” kids:  I let her watch tv.

Oh, yes.  If she wants to watch Ice Age (1, 2, or 3), I let her.  I mean, obviously she just has to suck it up if I have on Kitchen Cousins or pretty much any HGTV show- especially on Wednesday night.  If it’s nice outside, we’re running around at the park all day.  But it’s summertime in the desert, which is kind of like winter in the mid-west: not always so pleasant temperature-wise.  So, no.  If it’s sweltering outside, I make sure she gets enough exercise.  She pretends my bed is a trampoline.  She does dvd exercises with me.  She loves yoga.  And headstands.  

However, right now, Maya’s watching Bolt and I don’t care.  Of course, she’s watching it while drawing circles and trying to draw triangles and squares, and she has her alphabet letters spread out across the living room.

I let her watch tv and I’m sure Dr. Mehta would not approve; however, Maya rarely sits and actually watches the tv with a drooling, slack mouth and glazed eyes.  She’s far too busy a girl to do that.  She’s gotta play with her blocks and Legos and Fisher Price animal thing, for which I had to buy every single animal to accompany it.

I was momentarily concerned that she might develop ADD.  Then I watched her study her colorful wooden blocks and build with them for an hour without directing her attention elsewhere.  So, she has focus.

Is tv really that bad?  Or is it just bad if you use it to parent your kids instead of you taking the time to parent?  There are days when I think I should cut back, and perhaps I should, but man… I’m tired, single mom.  I complete my mommy tasks and give her my full attention and cuddles and kisses as much as I can, but I need a break, too.  If Bolt can give me twenty minutes of blessed silence and I can go pee by myself without Maya accompanying me, then glory be!

My son watched tv.  He managed to graduate from high school without getting into drugs or alcohol or anything, really.  He’s a computer programming brainiac.  He does live on Mountain Dew, though.  Must be the tv.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m a normal parent.  Maybe I’m a bad parent.  I figure as long as she’s not hooked on Family Guy or Dexter, I’m safe.

Do you let your kids watch tv?

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4 thoughts on “TV or No TV?

  1. Yes, but only by approval and certain programs and times. Although I didn’t allow much, my son would have been better off if I had even more dramatically restricted TV when he was younger (he’s second, so my daughter had already started off with better habits, but when he came along she was older and could watch more, so…).

    In hindsight I now see that for him it was a distraction and a hindrance to developing his own internal ability to visualize and eventually dampened his love for reading since TV provided more immediate feedback and action (ahhh, the addiction of instant gratification) than the printed medium. Just some perspective from down the road…

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    1. Thank you. And yes, I think I will definitely have to limit my daughter’s tv time as she gets closer to starting school. I only allow certain programs as it is, but I know I’ll have to keep a sharp eye on her and the clicker. Oddly enough, she likes to watch “the house show” (HGTV). My son watched tv and I probably should have cracked down on that a tad. Too late now, but he doesn’t seem to be worse for the wear. However, I have a feeling I simply got lucky with him. He was born an old man.

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      1. I have heard many wiser people than me say that we are our children’s first and best teachers. From what I have read you are doing an excellent job teaching her 🙂 and she loves learning (especially with you). That joy and excitement is a very precious quality; never let any person, group or institution steal that from her or squash it. Academic groups, youthful hubris, and peer pressure can sometimes put a damper on it and then it can be hard to revive.

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      2. Thank you so much. And you’re right– she does love learning.

        Thanks for the advice. It’s been such a long time since Josh was a toddler that I’m practically starting anew.

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