The pride of the living room has slowly penetrated the bedrooms, the children’s room, the kitchen. It has invaded the lives of people. Go to a friend’s place for a dinner hoping for good conversation and the Idiot Box encroaches. God forbid if there is a darn cricket match playing. The entire nation drops work and sits in front of the Idiot Box a.k.a. Television.
I have listened to mothers complaining that their children do not eat without watching television. I have seen children (and adults) fight over which channel to watch. I have been the clueless witness to discussions over “saas-bahu” episodes. No prizes for guessing how I feel about the idiot box.
When my daughter was born, my husband and I took the decision of disconnecting cable TV. The poor cable guy thought I was haggling for price. It took me a better part of an hour to convince him that I wasn’t going to take his competitor’s cable connection and that no it didn’t matter how much it cost – I just didn’t want it.
A lot of people have asked me why? I have never been a TV fan. For me the television has always been a device to watch DVDs. Call me a snob but I look down upon people who can tolerate the saas bahu dramas that are doled out one after another on Indian television. But the one thing that I detest most is how people use Television as a baby sitter. Bored housewives who apparently stay at home to take care of their child, happily plonk the child in front of the idiot box for hours and proudly announce to whoever is willing to listen how well the child knows the moves and the lyrics of the latest Bollywood song. Yikes!
My daughter is 3 and a half- she has never seen a cartoon show. Neither has she seen the insides of a theatre. I did try taking her to the movie Ice Age 3 but she refused to sit in a place that was so loud and begged to be taken outside within 5 mins of the movie. She has a modest collection of Dora, Pooh, Barney, Noddy, Leapfrog and other DVDs but her interest in TV is very low and she doesn’t want to sit still for more than 15 mins to watch something. I go to work and am out of the house for the entire day but I am not worried whether Clara (my daughter’s nanny) and Tricia are watching TV. Yesterday, they sat together and did some glass painting. Two days before that they made a Lego fairy castle (it did not look like a castle but the description given for it matched perfectly :)) We are always looking for activities to do together – painting, gardening, cycling, reading, craft, cooking, cleaning – we have done it all. Sometimes it is difficult. Sometimes I am tired and just want to curl up on the couch and read a book and yes I could have done it if Tricia watched TV. But it is a small price to pay.
A lot of my friends have asked me what I am going to do when Tricia slowly realizes that she is missing on something that her friends have. I do not have an answer. I am taking every day as it comes. I am thankful that 3 years of her life have not been wasted in front of the television. I am hoping that like her parents she will grow up preferring books to TV. We always take the time out to explain to her why she can’t do something coz she is young and how there are things that she can do but grown ups can’t – she understands and respects that. I hope this theory can be extended to what she can and can’t watch.
I am not a perfect mum. I don’t even claim to be close to perfect. But I am doing what I think is right for my child. And I am hoping that this post will influence more mommies to keep their children away from the idiot box. Instead of cartoons and videos, lets gift our children our time. For we shall cross this path only once.