Thursday, March 29, 2001

Respite TV

Ho hum. Another study says TV is bad for kids, too violent, causes irresponsible behavior, blah, blah, blah. Honey, could you turn down that wrestling show so that mommy can read this?

Sorry, I know we need to take these things seriously. With high schools turning into shooting galleries and societal aggression at a somewhat unmanageable level, violence in media is legitimately a hot-button issue. Just so long as you don't tell me my kids can't watch TV anymore. In which case, I'll have to pound you.

I freely admit that, at this particular time, the children in my house watch too darn much television. And that, because I am a lazy parent and a bad person, I am really enjoying the peace that comes with two children in a two-TV house each happily lost in their program of choice. Ahhhhhhhhh. No squabbling. No neediness. Time to myself to, oh I don't know, peruse a magazine, read a book, take a nap, write essays for strangers and post them on the Web.

Perhaps people who have children with extra needs appreciate that peace all the more. My daughter, with her learning disabilities and frequent cluelessness, needs so much help studying and learning and figuring out what to do with herself most minutes of the day; but she doesn't need any help to watch TV, and I think that's a relief for both of us. My son, the hyperactive, impulsive FAE boy -- well, to have him sit for an hour or two, pretty quietly, pretty still, flipping through channels but no more than his father or I would do ... well, as that commercial we see every five minutes would say, it's priceless. Forget about medication; if they would just bolt a TV to his desk at school and keep an endless loop of "Rugrats" going, he'd be a docile boy.

Yes, yes, I know, I know, it's bad, bad, bad. We should be using that time to engage in enriching family activities. And we would, if my husband and I didn't fall asleep whenever we sit down for more than a minute. It's so nice that the TV stays awake.

Fortunately, neither of our kiddos is hot to watch wrestling, or MTV, or HBO. They pretty much stick to the Nick-Disney-Fox Family axis, with occasional forays to PAX for "It's a Miracle," the cartoon channel for Scooby Doo and the food network for Emeril. His "Bam!" is about as violent as it gets. I don't think my daughter can get into too much trouble with Disney's ultra-earnest fare, and the Nick-toons that my son enjoys, like "Hey, Arnold," "Rugrats," and "The Wild Thornberrys" are fairly gentle stuff, with the odd moral sprinkled in. It's good news for my daughter especially that she's no longer watching Barney at age 10, and I like to think that watching all this TV has raised her pop-culture developmental age. Then again, she adores "DragonTales," so we still have work to do.

I do try, though. I try to get them away from the TV. And onto, say, the computer! Or the Gameboy! Have some variety in your screen-staring! And once the warm weather comes, they'll want to play outside, and my period of peace will be through. Please excuse me if I enjoy it if I can. I'm pretty sure it won't turn them into mass murderers. Zombies, maybe.

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