MLM got acquainted with the telly pretty early in life. He used to have frequent bouts of cold and cough and feeding him would be a nightmare…dragged out for hours on end with precious little going down the gullet. Also there were the days when nebulization was de rigueur. The television would captivate his attention long enough for us to feed him and nebulize him. It was a godsend. But television is also a double-edged sword…it does stunt your child’s growth by keeping him sedentary for long periods and not give them opportunities for two-way communication.
But necessary evil that it is there are still those shows that this child has been positively influenced by. He learns about the environment and the animals by watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. He learns about acceptable behavior from Noddy, Oswald the October (sappy as hell as it may be) and problem solving from Maya the Bee. The artistic side or the creative side was tweaked by I Can Cook and Mister Maker.
So while I do wish that he didn’t have as much affection for the idiot box and preferred to spend more time outdoors, the fact of the matter is that he is learning from the t.v. His vocabulary is growing…he mimics a lot of things he hears on the television, he affects new physical mannerisms and does get a glimpse of the world beyond his immediate surroundings through it.
So what’s the ultimate downside you might ask? I have to record everything I want to watch since the t.v. is entirely his domain :p
The toughest thing I find at times is to explain to MLM what something actually is. Since he lacks the experience and often the vocabulary, it’s a bit challenging to think of ways to get him to understand it in a manner that satisfies him or makes sense to him. Some children accept a lot of things their parents tell them but MLM actually mulls things over quite a bit.
Little things like why he can’t be swimming in an unheated pool in the height of winter, how it’ll most likely cause a cold; why his father and I are using chasing him around the house to clean his nose when it’s runny and most importantly why t.v or other visual digital media is curtailed after a point. Usually there’s a villain in the story viz moi but by and large there are questions coming up which I have to gloss over or fall back on euphemisms for him to stop his line of questioning.
Just today he suddenly asked why Littlefoot’s mother was sleeping and not getting up after the fight with the T-Rex. Till now he’s never watched anything where death has even been remotely implied and since he’s only 4, I haven’t even thought about how to explain those kinds of heavy concepts to him yet. Whatever cartoons he’s watched where the bad guy’s been defeated, he’s understood it as them having “gone away”. Whether that’s a permanent condition or not has not been touched upon. Come to think of it, I don’t know if such small children know and understand the concept of permanence either. Their little minds are usually so crammed with things in their immediate surroundings, their likes and dislikes.
So when he raised the query about Littlefoot’s mother I asked him why do you think she’s not getting up and he promptly replied, ” T-Rex did ouchie! Dinosaur got ouchie there and fall down. Now dinosaur sleep.” Phew! That’s a good place to start. I wouldn’t know what to do when the “die” issue comes up.
With children what they see is what you get and I guess that’s why he can’t understand how it is when I occasionally put my contact lens on…he keeps trying to get me to put my glasses on…thinking I’m unable to see 🙂
When he was a baby, he’d go and check under the beds, behind the toilets, everywhere possible when he wasn’t able to locate his grandparents after they’d left. He just couldn’t understand how something was *not* there or was different or in an unrecognizable form.
All a part of growing up I guess…I just hope I survive the phase of “whys”.