Let me preface this rant by saying that I never in a million years thought I would be one of "those" parents that didn't allow their kid to watch TV. I love TV, I really, really do. I feel angst in my heart if I have to miss a single episode of The Office or Modern Family. For a long while, Connor had no interest at all in the television. I used to be desperate for a fifteen minute break and would fix him up all nice and cozy in front of Sesame Street, but he wasn't having it. He was much more interested in trying to jump from the coffee table to the couch. One day, though, it just clicked and he started to tune in.
Soon though we noticed that he was no longer able to do anything else while watching his "cartoonies." He would stand immobilized, completely transfixed by that bilingual siren, Dora the Explorer. He could only tear his eyes away from Kai Lan long enough to ask me when we would be celebrating the Chinese New Year with dumplings and paper lanterns. It finally got so bad that on more than one occasion we found him in the middle of the night in the living room, sitting two inches away from the screen talking to Diego about Pumas and baby Jaguars. It was all a little too poltergeist so we cut him off cold turkey. At the beginning of last summer,we unplugged the TVs, told him they were broken and prepared for the withdrawal.
It did not go over well. He went through several stages of grieving. There was anger, tears and finally reluctant acceptance. It was always on his mind though. One afternoon I asked him what he was drawing with his sidewalk chalk. His reply? "Kenny and Stuart watching cartoonies and a itty bitty bird who is crying." It didn't take a psychology major to figure that one out. When he kept asking people when we went to visit their houses, if their TVs were broken too, we had to come clean.
Now, lest you think we are the meanest and cruelest parents of all time, let me say that after the first couple of intense months of rehab, we integrated some Nick Jr. back into his life. He doesn't get to watch everyday but he seems okay with it. When he is allowed to watch his cartoonies he is so overjoyed, it almost makes me feel bad. Almost.
This first tiny glimpse into the world of tough love made me realize that it sucks. I can't even imagine facing off with a rebellious teenager. But I'll worry about that tomorrow. Today I rest easier knowing that I no longer have to live in fear of a giant-headed Chinese girl brainwashing my son through the TV screen. Whew!