Scary stories from a lovely place
Last night I didn’t turn on the TV after Silas had gone to bed. Instead, I started to read an amazing book called ‘Buy, Buy Baby’ which I may write about in the near future (depends if I watch TV tonight). Stephen was busy wrestling the Little Deer into bed, but when he was done, he also did some reading. It was peaceful and advertisement-free.
We are pondering at the moment whether or not we should buy a TV when we move out of my parents house. I have flip flopped as much as John Howard did while he was Australia’s prime minister. At first I thought, yes definitely, we must have a TV. Or at least the ability for Silas to watch DVD’s. Then, after a few months here in Australia the joy/evils of TV were deeply sewn into my psyche. Like channel Eleven! It’s amazing, full of MacGyver, Family Ties and Futurama.
But I’m anti lounge rooms being constructed around the television. Lounge rooms should be for drinking tea and eating cake, socialising, playing with blocks and reading books. So then I thought we could get a TV but keep it in our bedroom, so that it wasn’t occupying the social space. But the idea of sharing a bed with Bender and Fry isn’t as appealing as with Stephen.
I used to watch a fair bit of TV, but it was probably less than average. Then when I moved to South Africa I never got into their TV. The ads were weird, the Soapies were multi-lingual, Bold and the Beautiful was years behind and I never knew when anything was on. I gave up. A lack of TV for 4 years has meant that I am well and truly out of the loop when it comes to popular culture. I have no idea who won awards at the Oscars for the last few years. Before I went to Jozi, I think I could have named a few. I kept up with the news on the internet and I read a lot of books.
During our second year of marriage Stephen started getting home from work at 4 instead of 6pm. In the lead up to Silas’ birth we had a lovely time together. We played a lot of scrabble, made tzatziki and drank G&T’s every afternoon. I remember it being a wonderfully foundational time for our relationship before the babies took over. I don’t think we would have spent that much time together if we had owned a TV.
The book I mentioned is exploring the way a baby’s brain develops in their first 3 years of life; that it is vastly different and special from any other time. The author started by decrying the influence of television, and particularly programs that are supposed to make a baby ‘smart’ or have an educational quality. She claims that this kind of stimulation is actually harmful for an infant. She quotes some scary statistics, one that “by the age of 6 the average British child will have spent one full year in front of the television”.
Silas is pretty committed to the tele at the moment. He only watches DVD’s, so at least the advertisement aspect is removed. I’ve been feeling guilty about how I use it to keep him occupied while I do other, not always altruistic, stuff (like in this moment. Sometimes when he is really upset Colin Buchanan or Play School is the best way to comfort him. That makes me feel really sad.
I used to think kids who grew up with no TV must have been so weird. But Stephen did and he’s turned out pretty well. So I’m still flip flopping on the TV thing. I don’t think it’s all together evil, though elements of it certainly are. But ‘Buy Buy Baby’ is really challenging me. Hopefully I will have decided by the time it comes to buying a TV, or not.