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Do As I Say, Not As I Watch

My children have watched television for most of this day. Based on current pediatric literature and thinking, I'm assuming they will now grow up to be mute serial killers.

The whole day I obsessively calculated the total amount of hours watched and by how much it exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of two hours or less. I stopped counting somewhere around four hours. It wasn’t continuous and was broken up over what felt like a very long and busy morning but still—it was a lot. I think and obsess a lot about this particular guideline issued to parents—about how or whether or not the more I let them watch, the less likely they’ll be able to communicate, grow fat, violent—and ultimately become all around horrible people. Honestly, in fairness that Ruby from Max and Ruby really is a bitch. They’re not learning anything from her.

I know I’m using it as an “electronic babysitter.” I know that’s wrong and that frankly nothing about Yo Gabba Gabba equates to “preschool on TV” as Nick Jr. would have me believe, lovingly stroking my conscience as I fret about their futures and potential seizures from the flashing light sequence during the Dancey Dance. But I have to shower. And I have to go to the bathroom. And I have to check my email and FB account. I actually don’t have to do that last one but at some point during the day, I have to just do a pulse check with anyone who is not currently having a tantrum about the batcave.

I also stress about this particular guideline because it definitely falls into the do as I say not as I furtively do behind your back category. I lecture them about how we need to turn off the TV and only watch certain shows and yet mindlessly watch hours of The Learning Channel at night about programs as useful as Extreme Couponing and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. I can literally feel myself getting more stupid as I watch but sometimes after a long day I want to check out mentally and unplug—it’s trashy and comforting and an escape.

I love my children. I would do anything for them and sometimes I honestly believe they need the same kind of escape. When we are overtired and cranky I’m sure some quick yoga followed by a wholesome craft will snap us right out of that funk. But it’s not always that day. And so they watch TV. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it anymore because your kids watch it too. If you claim they don’t well then you’re a liar, like that know-it-all animated bunny Ruby.

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