Not long ago I wrote a post about tv and kids, or, more specifically, my experience as a kid watching tv and why I allow my own kids to watch it now.
It seemed to be my answer to this week’s TRDC writing prompt, so I am going completely out of character & re-posting it here. I hope that is okay with you all…
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I’m screwed up, but it had nothing to do with watching too much TV as a kid.
Which is why I am consistently surprised at how fired up some people get when the topic of TV and kids comes up.
I watched Tom and Jerry, and never shot anyone with a pistol in the face.
I watched Wile E Coyote and never got the urge to push anyone off a cliff then drop an anvil on them.
Bugs Bunny was da bomb. But I never tried to boil my enemy in a 200 gallon pot in the woods.
Heck, I grew up with The Muppet Show and never, ever smoked pot. (Now this, my friends, is a noteworthy accomplishment)
Imaginary play was already inside me, but Hanna Barbera* cartoons sparked even more inspiration for me when the TV was off.
* The Jetsons, Top Cat, Josie & the Pussycats, Woody Woodpecker, Secret Squirrel, The Herculoids! MAN I loved those Herculoids!!!
I loved stories. TV had them.
I loved music. TV played it.
I loved reading. LeVar Burton rocked my world on Reading Rainbow.**
** Dude. Books on TV? My two favorite things, combined!
TV was entertainment, escape, and inspiration. Saturday morning cartoons were looked forward to all week.
As latch key kids during the week, my brother and I wound down from our long days at school with a snack and some boob tube at home.
The first time I found out I could be funny was a weekend when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Two of my brothers and a neighborhood friend were watching Godzilla***. Without thinking, I made an off-hand observation to the room. The boys all turned to me in shocked silence, and then burst out laughing. The friend said he never knew I was funny. So I made a few more to my audience, and they cracked up every time. The comfort of the camaraderie in front of a familiar show became a place for me to let my commentary flow, much to the entertainment of my fellow TV watchers.
*** Terrible English dubbing, but still awesome. Though the cartoon was pretty rockin’ as well. I mean, he shot red lasers from his eyes. Does it get better than that?
I got older. I was attracted to the acting, the stories, the emotions. It drew me to theater, which wasn’t an interest of anyone else in my family. I drank in movies of Shakespearian plays when they were showed at school.
I have so many good TV memories. Shows themselves, important episodes, characters I could relate to or felt for. The company I watched with. The bonding with my brother as we agreed on every show, pretty much every time.
Now as an adult, I am at times shunned for allowing my kids watch TV.
When I mention that my kids love a certain show or offer to put on the TV to get the kids to leave us alone so we Moms can have a conversation, sometimes the response is pretty much the same as if I had told them I murder adorable puppies for fun, and hey! there’s one cooking on the spit in my backyard right now!
My children will, apparently, be hyperactive obese adults with no opinions of their own because I turn the boob tube on daily.
Holy flaming storm of judgement, Batman!
The songs they learn on Jack’s Big Music Show about helping and being perfect the way they are and accepting others? The lessons on Yo Gabba Gabba about just trying new things so you may like it and getting sillies out so you can concentrate? The instructional music video on Nick Jr about how to wash your hands properly?
Watching basketball with Daddy on the couch before bed? Witnessing a flower grow from seed to beautiful bloom on Nature channel? Learning about all the animals in the African tundra by watching National Geographic with Mom by their side to explain it all?
Evil. Evil. Evil.
I (kind of) jokingly call my TV “The Babysitter” because they love it. If I need to get something done and want to minimize interruption, I can treat them to a movie on cable, OnDemand, on DVD, on AppleTV.
(It’s not like I’m handing them the remote control and asking whether they want to watch UFC cage battles or Skinemax. For goodness sake, they’re a Preschooler and Kindergartener. I do have some common sense. Last time I checked, Nick Jr didn’t have any shows dropping f-bombs and teaching kids how to karate-kick each other in the neck.)
If my kids are worn out from a particularly long, trying day or are sick or just are annoying me? I can get them to rest on the couch while watching something where puppets or cartoons are modeling the kind of behavior I wish they were displaying that day.
A bonus for me? When my kids watch something together, they do what my husband and I do and what my brothers and I did back when we were kids: comment, ask questions, and share their thoughts. They rarely sit silent and zombie-like in a TV Trance.
And yet, apparently, this TV time is damaging them forever.
According to some judgy motherf people.
But you know what? I’ll deal with that damage. Because I think I’m doing just fine after 3+ decades of watching TV. I let them watch stuff I approve and in moderation. They are creative, active, artistic, athletic, healthy kids who have good chunks of imaginary play every day.
Balance, people. All about balance.
I gotta go now. Peppa Pig is coming on, and that sh** is too funny to miss.
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This post was written for The Red Dress Club Memoir writing prompt.
The prompt went like this:
TV is something that people either watch a lot of or have definite feelings about. This week, we want you to think about tv show from your past. Maybe you watched it, maybe you didn’t and it was just something that everyone else talked about.
What feelings does the show envoke? What memories does it trigger?
I have emotional connections to so many tv shows. After reading a few of these memoir posts of mine, you’ll pick up that my childhood wasn’t all lollipops and sunshine. But there were bits of sweet and light that I picked up on tv, that spoke to me, and clung to me as I grew, not letting me forget them.
I was remarking recently to a friend via email that I can’t remember the most obvious and current stuff in my daily life, but I can recall every lyric to Sesame Street songs like Teeny Little Super Guy.
Just yesterday I told my husband I’m So Hungry, I Could Eat A Wagon Wheel.
These songs, sayings, pieces of joy I took from the tv shows I enjoyed as a kid still pepper themselves in my life today. I appreciate the positivity, humor and the ‘kid again’ feeling I get when they come to me so naturally.
I can only hope that the positive messages my kids hear on tv these days will stick with them for the next 30 years or so.
That they should be so lucky.
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If you are new to Let Me Start By Saying…welcome! I have some more short memoir posts here. Or check out the About Kim page to learn more about me. For some funny, check out my Favorite Posts page. Thanks for visiting!
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