It's not that we don't love them or know the benefits of building towers and reading books and playing I'm Gonna Get You. It's that toddlers have the ability to turn the mind of an intelligent, rational adult into mush in the course of an afternoon. And in an effort to stall this process, the adult periodically seeks refuge, often accomplished with the assistance of the little black box.
Then, of course, the toddler gets addicted and all good intentions are lost to the spell of characters named Uniqua, Caillou, Boots and Ferb. I can personally recite every episode of The Wonder Pets, even the more obscure episodes, including the dramatic, hot air balloon rescue of Yak, Pig and Dancing Bear. If you have a three year-old, you probably can, too.
As much as we may not want to believe it, our three year-old owns the television. I do not recall the last time my husband and I watched a non-animated show in our home. How long has it been since we were part of an intended audience of people who can tie their own shoes? Six months? Maybe more? I also have no idea what we watched before the Backyardigans and Diego moved in and took control. I have faint recollections of Modern Family and Dexter, but after this much Dora the Explorer, who knows if my feeble mind could follow one of these shows anymore. The upside is that my Spanish has improved dramatically. Here, I'll prove it: Hola! Soy Dora! I never knew this before, but to correctly speak Spanish, you must scream every word.
I can't blame everything on my three year-old. She happens to be a champion sleeper, and if we really wanted to, we could watch television after she and her younger sister go to bed. But it seems like such a relief to turn off the television or, as was the case last night, to go to bed at 8:30, as soon as I fulfill all of my parental duties. Then there's the productivity issue. Both my husband and I find it impossible to sit and watch television without being annoyed by one million better uses of our time. Between the two of us, there are too many businesses to be run and words to be written. I'm not saying that those businesses are well run or the words well written, but these things still take precendence over good, old-fashioned couch potato time.
Every now and then I come back to the issue of my child watching too much television. We turn the tv off to venture outside, read a few books, or dance in our kitchen. We laugh, we wrestle, and life is good. But I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that when exhaustion comes, flopping down on the couch with my three year-old and singing about Diego "talking to the animals and swinging from a vine" is pure relief.
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