Thursday, August 12, 2010

Letter to the Playground Mom

Dear Lady at the Playground today,

Could you please stop texting on your phone and push your little boy on the swing? He begged and begged you. Your friend came with her two little ones, and you were wrapped up in a conversation with her. All he wanted was for you to pay attention to him for a bit. I hope when you yelled at him to "Shut up!" that it didn't break his spirit. I wish you would have seen him come to me, talking to me, happy to have someone speak to him with kindness and interest. I hope whatever it was you were doing was truly urgent. And little boy, if you come back to play, I will be happy to push you on the swing until your spirit soars.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Less Boob Tube

Here I am, tail between my legs. Yep, I'm the gal who said my child would watch no TV before the age of 2. I made it til she was about 13 months old and Elmo came into our world. I think I kept it under control until the last few months. All of the sudden I became aware that my girl was starting to become addicted to the TV. I limit her shows to the Sprout channel, which is all pre-school and educational, but still, we were starting to creep upwards of two to three hours a day.

Let's face it, it's the easy way out. My day from early morning til late night is rush, rush, rush. I'm always rushing from one place to the next, always on the clock, always chasing a deadline. When we finally get home from work and daycare, I then need to get dinner ready and do the rest of the stuff that needs done. It became so easy to put her in front of Sprout from the time I started dinner until it was time to go for a bath and bed. I could get some laundry started, dishes done, or simply sit on the couch and rest my eyes.

I started to notice that Claire knew the lineup of shows. She would know what came after the next. She would beg to watch On Demand episodes of Caillou one after the other. She started knowing every character's name on every show. She has recently been introduced to Dora, her new obsession, and can sing the theme song and yells "Swiper, no swiping!" every time she sees Swiper the Fox.

It really hit me...this is too much. She will sit glazed in front of that TV, refusing to talk to her dad when he calls at night for her. I decided last Thursday night that I was going to start putting a time limit on her viewing. We got home from work/daycare, and as I prepared dinner, she sat as she usually does and watched a Dora episode. I sat down to dinner with her and let the episode finish (about 25 minutes from start to finish). Then I shut it off. Oh my. That went over like a lead balloon. Kicking and screaming on the floor crying for Dora and Caillou. She went on and on until she looked up...

There I was, dragging the kitchen table into her play room. She stopped crying for a moment to see what I was doing. I hurried about, very animated, and she walked over. "Mommy, what doing?" I threw my arms in the air, "I'm making the castle! I'm making the princess castle!!!" TV was forgotten, as she helped me pile blankets on the table to make our castle. We sat under there for 45 minutes (well, she sat; I crouched) with her tea set. She served tea to her baby and to me. Then we moved over to her table and I pulled out her art box. We worked on drawings for a while. And then it was bedtime. So, all and all, instead of two hours of TV, we had 25 minutes. She watches about a half hour in the morning while we get ready, so that would equal about 1 hour a day total. I'm cool with that.

Tonight she put up a bit of a fight for me. I just kept dragging her to different activities until she forgot what she was crying about. We were in the castle again (my back hates me right now..where's the heating pad). We played with her Fisher Price garage and her drum (girl got rhythm). Then we had clean up and off for our bedtime routine.

Some days I know will be better than others. I'm sure she'll have days where she will end up watching two hours, but I feel good about making a concerted effort to cut back as much as possible and engage her in creative, imaginative play.

And then once she goes to bed, I can tune in to the Golden Girls :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


If you are at least as old as me, you may remember that MTV actually showed music videos at one time. Remember A-Ha's video for Take On Me? That crazy animated cartoon? How about Chevy Chase and Paul Simon in You Can Call Me Al.

Anyway, my favorite movie videos always were songs from movie soundtracks. They'd show movie clips while the song was playing. "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin for Top Gun. All very romantic and dramatic.

I find I am falling into the habit of extracting my memories and piecing them together into music videos. I daydream a lot. I escape and go back to 2006...September...that happiness was euphoric. It was out of control and pervasive and fantastical and all-encompassing. It was the summit of the highest peak of another world. And it was brief. I ache...literally have that back. I want to gather up the ashes and resurrect it.

So my eyes close, and the song is playing and I'm watching the screen. I'm hearing the words. The text of the e-mails are going across the screen like a ticker. And Bell X1 is singing Eve the Apple of My Eye. Or Cary Brothers or Damien Rice or anyone really. The soundtrack of the time I want back.

Take my breath away.