Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Television versus the Giant Book Monster

The book monster first moved in around Soren's first birthday, when I decided I couldn't bear to read "Double Delight Alphabet" with my handsy one-year-old one more time. I tried hiding it, and even from the crawler's perspective, Soren was able to sense its presence and seek it out, squealing until I relented and read it yet again.

At the time, we didn't have any TV in the house. I believed very firmly I wasn't going to let my kids watch TV. (I was a working mom. There was a lot less time in the day.) I started buying LOTS of books. Pretty much every time I had a few dollars in my pocket, I'd drop them at a bookstore or a thrift store.

Then I got pregnant and we discovered the wonder of Shaun the Sheep. "Shong Sheep" became a daily entertainment staple, once or twice a day, buying me twenty minutes of light-speed productivity, or just twenty minutes to relieve the swelling in my lovely cankles.

Soon Dinosaur Train emerged as the coolest thing ever. Since then I've gotten used to TV being a part of our daily routine. Half an hour or so in the morning, another twenty while I make lunch, and then some again late in the afternoon. I have a guilty affection for TV time.

I now attempt buy an hour of sanity every morning, doing dishes and preparing for the day while the Pteranadon family of Buddy, Shiny, Tiny and Dawn, keep Soren somewhat occupied during the day. I think I enjoy their friendship as much as Soren does.  

However, I've found recently that television has lost its lustre. I am baffled and somewhat dismayed. As a child, watching cartoons or Sesame Street on occasion was like a taste of forbidden fruit. How can my two-year-old be so "over it?" In fact, he's so "over it" that as the impending death of my loyal laptop approaches, I'm considering ditching the TV entirely in favor of a desktop computer. Truthfully, a coup d'estat against the TV wouldn't be a big event in our house. We'd fire up netflix once in a while to play Shaun the Sheep, and the only thing anyone would really miss would be an occasional trip through a time tunnel with the pteranadons.

How can this be? I have only one explanation: Soren loves reading books.

I often turn the TV on as a "treat," only to have him climb into my lap with a library book and turn it right back off. The TV lost the war with the Giant Book Monster (the GBM). Actually, almost everything in my house is losing to the GBM. My living room was slaughtered months ago. The tiny bookshelf in Soren's room is groaning under the weight of the GBM. There are stacks of kids books everywhere.

But when the GBM wins, who emerges victorious?

My kids do. Soren's vocabulary wins. Intimacy between us grows as we snuggle and giggle and point and chatter at the pages of our picture books. I win, because Soren isn't constantly absorbing strange behaviors from television characters. His ability to communicate and express himself and understand his world is exploding.

So will the television outlive the month of March, or will it lose the championship, knocked out by the GBM? I'll let you know. It's not looking good for the tv. But seriously, nobody was rooting for it in the first place. The truth is, I may be the only person here who will miss it.

I just wonder what we'll do with it?