media · slice of life

The TV Works Fine – #sol16

I thought about writing about how I’m so proud Isabelle can write her name in Hebrew (albeit she writes in Hebrew from left to right, instead of right to left)! Look at her practicing it this morning when we were in-between speech and occupational therapy appointments this morning.
FullSizeRender
However, I’m posting about something much more sinister that I do when we’re at therapy. It’s doesn’t actually cause harm to anyone, but it’s a bit underhanded. Here’s a hint:
IMG_4919
*****
Isabelle had a half-hour break between speech and OT appointments so the two of us retreated to the waiting room. She was the only child in the kids’ section of the waiting room so I turned off the TV. I’ve done this many times in the past three years since I’d rather have quiet time with her that doesn’t involve her staring at a screen while Sprout blares. (Also, there’s another television about 30 feet away in the adult part of the waiting room that broadcasts CNN. It’s maddening to sit with CNN and Sprout playing at the same time.)
Isabelle never complains when I turn-off the waiting room’s television. (She’s the kind of kid who has less than 60 minutes of screen time each day so she’s not dependent on it for entertainment.) However, other kids notice the lack of television as soon as they get to the children’s section of the waiting room.
After Isabelle went back with her occupational therapist at 10:30, two kids came into the waiting room with their parents. The three-year-old son noticed something was awry immediately. “Where’s the TV?!!?”
“It’s not on today,” the mom told her son.
“I want the TV!” the son yelled.
“Well, they must’ve turned it off for a reason,” mom responded.
Her son did everything he could to show how mad he was by crying and yelling.
It was at this point I could’ve done told the family I turned off the TV, stood up on the chair, and turned it back on. But I didn’t. Instead, I watched the situation unfold.
“I wanna your phone!” the son told his father.
“I don’t have any games on my phone,” dad replied.
“I wanna play games,” the boy said.
“I don’t have any games for you on here. I’m not lying.” (Why would the father tell his son he wasn’t lying? Does he usually lie to him? Questions I will never have answered.)
This continued for a couple more minutes. Just when I thought they were going to ask the receptionist to turn on the TV, something amazing happened. The family started talking to each other. The parents and kids talked, sang songs, and played finger games for the next 20 minutes until their son’s speech therapist called him back for his appointment.
Today’s result was the scenario I always hope for when kids discover the television isn’t on. Only once have I ever seen a parent talk to the receptionist to ask for the TV to be turned back on. Occasionally, a parent hands over their phone to their child, but usually, the parent(s) and kid(s) talk to each other. So really, I’m not doing anything that’s detrimental to anyone. I’m giving myself a little peace and quiet while helping families actually talk to each other. (I know, I know, it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t have an agenda. But I kind of do.)
media · slice of life

I forgot how violent “Tom & Jerry” was! 

IMG_0639-0We had a 15 minute break between Isabelle’s speech and OT apponitments this morning.  I offered her a snack and she choose the granola bar option.  I reminded her to sit down to eat it.  I wish she had chosen a different seat.  BUT, she choose the seat in front of the television.  No big deal, she’ll nosh for a few minutes and then we’ll play on the Writing Wizard or Letter School app before her occupational therapist comes out to get her.

That was wishful thinking.

“Tom and Jerry” was on and she was immediately drawn-in as she nibbled at the granola bar.  In fact, she took forever to eat that 90 calorie granola bar because she was transfixed on the screen.

“You know, I used to watch ‘Tom and Jerry’ when I was a kid.”

No response.  She was giggling as I explained who was who and why Jerry Mouse was running away from Tom Cat.

Tom and Jerry were having a sword fight.  No big deal, right?  Well, then Jerry plunged the sword (which looked more like a knife) into Tom’s foot.

“Why’d he do dat?” Isabelle asked me.

“Jerry wanted to hurt Tom because he was chasing him.”

“Did it hurt?” she asked.

“I’m sure it did,” I replied.

“Is he gonna go hospital?  For a needle?”

“He might need a needle, but he looks fine.  Look now!” I pointed towards the screen.  Tom had his sword again and was back on his feet fighting Jerry.  Until —

Jerry took his sword and plunged it into Tom’s groin, which sent Tom down to the ground.

SERIOUSLY!??!?

Isabelle kept laughing, but I was horrified. It was at that moment I noticed the logo in the bottom right corner of the screen.  CARTOON NETWORK. I couldn’t even tell you what channel it is on our home television since it’s never been on in our home.  (NOTE: Part of the reason we don’t watch cartoons, other than “Daniel Tiger,” is because kids with Apraxia don’t benefit from the frenetic pace of cartoons.  They need to watch slower paced shows, if they’re watching television, where they can see the characters’ mouths move properly.)  Ususally the Disney Channel is on when we are at therapy, but we’re never out in the waiting room long enough for it to bother me.  But this, this was not making me a happy camper.  I was starting to stew, wondering who decided to put Cartoon Network on this morning.  And why, oh why, is “Tom & Jerry” so violent?  (I’m sure it was like this when I was a kid, but I don’t recall.)

Suddenly, Tom swallowed Jerry.  Jerry couldn’t find a way out of Tom’s mouth.  Isabelle chuckled, but then she clutched her dolly.  “I’m scared,” she told me.

“Of what?” I asked.

“Dis is scary!” she replied.

That’s all I needed to hear.  I really don’t think she was scared by what she was seeing, but there weren’t any other kids watching the television so I did what any rational parent would do.  I turned off the television.

Ahhhh!  Silence.

Until… “He put a knife in his foot?”

“Yes, he did put a sword, which is like a knife, in Tom’s foot.  It’s just pretend.  Grown-ups use knives for eating. We don’t want around with them and we certainly don’t throw them at people.  Do you understand?”

“I understand,” she replied.

Somehow I think this small exposure to “Tom and Jerry” and the Cartoon Network will come up again later.  Funny how we work so hard to shield her from all of these shows on TV and all of that hard work can unravel in less than five minutes.

 

media · slice of life

No mani/pedi for the toddler.

I can’t believe I’m doing this.
We should’ve been at home eating lunch, but instead I took her for pizza before we arrived.
She should be playing with her toys.
After all, she had a therapy (i.e., OT & speech) double-header this morning.
She should be going down for a nap by 2:00.
But instead we are at the nail salon because I desperately need a manicure and pedicure for my cousin’s wedding.

20140708-140549-50749880.jpg
I’m using an iPad Mini to babysit my daughter as my nails get cut, sculpted, & painted.
She’s going to watch 90 minutes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” in all so I can feel like a more put-together version of myself this weekend.
My husband said doing taking Isabelle is okay, but I still feel odd about this because there are better things she could be doing with her time right now.
But mommy deserves a little pampering every now and then, right?

book stack · lift the flap books · media · picture books · universal themes

It’s Icy! It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey. The kids’ version has been adapted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Ricki and Kellee at UNLEASHING READERS. Visit their blogs to find out what other people are reading.

All of the rules go out the window when my daughter is sick.  Last week, she was really sick with a fever, a cold, and croup.  Therefore, I let her watch as much TV as she wanted.  She watched HOURS of “Sesame Street,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Super Why,” “Cat in the Hat,” and “Curious George.”  As she got better, I tried to coax her back to her toys and books.  However, she tried to assert her independence pitch a fit every time I turned off the TV.

My husband and I put her on a “Television Detox” program over the weekend.  We allowed her to watch one show “Sesame Street” or “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” each day.  She was less than pleased about this. Since she was well enough to go out (to synagogue and dinner on Saturday and to breakfast, grocery shopping, and on a play date yesterday) over the weekend, the detox program went pretty well.

Overnight we had freezing rain that topped the dusting of snow that fell yesterday.  Enter an ice day where not much is moving in the outside world today.  So we’re home.  ALL DAY.  I brainstormed a list of things we could do this morning in lieu of television. Heck, I even looked on Pinterest for ideas (since I’m pretty tapped out after being home with her for a week!).

This morning Isabelle has rediscovered her toys that she shunned while she was sick.  She also rediscovered some of her favorite books and enjoyed some new ones with me.  Here’s what we’ve read so far today:

20131209-122635.jpg
Izzy’s favorite page in The Silver Button.
  • Chloe, instead by Micah Player — A post I wrote last week sums up my thoughts about this favorite.
  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems — I tried to introduce the Knuffle Bunny books to Isabelle earlier this year, but she wasn’t into them.  NOW she loves hearing them read aloud.  In fact, she even gets some of the humor.  What a treat for me since these are some of my favorite picture books.
  • The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud — The illustrations are exquisite in this book, but they seem to overwhelm Isabelle.  There’s a LOT on each page and therefore I tried reading it to her this morning while she was playing.  She really enjoyed hearing the story without looking at the pictures, which makes me think she’ll come to love the illustrations in this book as she gets a bit older.
  • The Queen of France by Tim Wadham and Kady MacDonald Denton — This is a book about a little girl, Rose, who loves to dress up as the Queen of France.  Her parents go along with her and make her realize just how lucky and treasured she is as Rose.  (Izzy likes the pictures in this one since she enjoys putting on my bracelets — just like Rose.)
  • The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood — This is a new picture book I received a review copy of last week.  The book is filled with specific words, which I’m trying to infuse into my interactions with Isabelle.  There’s a loving sentiment to this book, which needs to be added to our bedtime stack.  (I’ll have more on this book in an upcoming post!)
  • The Silver Button by Bob Graham — This book helps youngsters realize lots of other things are happening in the world at the same time as they’re engaged in their own lives.  Isabelle, who is great with babies, especially likes the page where the baby is born!
  • Truck Stop by Ann Rockwell and Melissa Iwai — This is a favorite book of Isabelle’s, which she requested when I went upstairs to brush my teeth this morning.  We explored the book’s end pages, which contain colorful illustrations of a variety of trucks, at length this morning.
  • Walk This World by Lotta Nieminen — There are LOTS of flaps to lift in this book that takes you on a journey around the world.   The illustrations helped me travel around the world from my couch this morning.  What a treat!

After two straight hours of reading books we made banana bread:

20131209-122647.jpg
Mashing the Bananas and the Butter in her Play Kitchen

And then… I caved.  I let her watch “Sesame Street.”  But just one.  (She’s watching as I’m typing on my laptop.  I never use my computer in front of her, but if I have to watch any more kids’ programming after the week I had in with her, I might lose my mind. Therefore, I’m breaking my “no computer in front of the kid” rule.)

Next up we’ll eat lunch, read some more, and then I’ll put her down for a nap so I can get some work done.

media · music · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

The Maccabeats & the Common Cold

I tossed and turned in bed for an hour and a half last night before getting up to work at my computer. Before I rose from bed I heard Isabelle coughing on the monitor. And once I was downstairs in my office, which is directly below her bedroom, I heard more coughing.  This isn’t going to bode well for tomorrow.

And I was right. The first thing I noticed when I saw Isabelle this morning was Isabelle’s runny nose.  I armed myself with a giant canister of Boogie Wipes and made myself a cup of strong coffee so I could power through the day.

Speech and music therapy went pretty well even though I was wiping my little girl’s nose every few minutes. Once everyone left the house, I packed her up and took her to the post office and the grocery store, which were two errands I really needed to do.  Her nose hardly ran while we were out so I asked her, “Would you like to go outside?” when we got home.

“No,” she replied.  “In-sihde!”

Well, that was clear.  My little one loves to go outside. Her request to stay indoors spoke volumes about how she must’ve been feeling.  I poured her a glass of orange juice and declared that all rules were off.

“Would you like to watch ‘Seasame Street’?” I asked.

“Yes!” she squealed with delight.

“First we have to take off our coats, remove our sneakers, and wash our hands.”

I heard the slightest of whines.  “El-ma!” she said pointing towards the TV.

“Elmo wants you to have clean hands if you’re going to watch ‘Sesame Street’.”  Stupid things I vowed I’d never say before having a child.

She took off her coat and marched herself to the bathroom for a scrubbing. Well that was easy.

Not only did she watch “Sesame Street,” but she watched two episodes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” This is usually the amount of TV she watches in a week’s time!  However, I’ve learned not to be nuts about media consumption when she’s sick.

At 2:15 p.m. I got her down for a nap.  I had lots of work I needed to do so I hoped she’d sleep for 2.5 – 3 hours.

No. Such. Luck.

Isabelle was up by 3:30 p.m.!  At first she wanted to snuggle in my bed and read books.  That was all well and good, but then she requested something else.

“Sah-baht. Mac-a-beats. Pups!”

“You want to go downstairs to watch the Maccabeats’ ‘Cups’ Video?”  (How the kid figured out it’s a Shabbat song, I don’t know! Maybe I told her “D’ror Yikra” was a Shabbat song I sang to her, in a different tune, as a baby, but I’m not sure. If that wasn’t it, then what an inference she made!)

“Yes!” she declared.  “My iPad!”

“Okay, we can watch it on my iPad.” I paused remembering it actually was purchased for her to use for speech purposes.  “Okay, maybe it is your iPad.”

She smiled.

We went downstairs with Schlepp, her teddy bear, and retrieved the iPad from my office.  I set her up on the couch so we could watch the video together.

A half hour later we’re still here!  She’s watched every one of the Maccabeats’ videos(+ one Stand Four video), which means we’re not just ready for Shabbat, but we’re ready for Chanukah, Purim, Passover, and Sukkot!

I know some people wouldn’t have stayed in with their kid if they had a cold. However, I’ve come to believe that if one can stay in and rest when their body shows some kind of illness, then they should.  Hopefully all this rest (and all of these videos) will help Isabelle feel better soon!

books · media · medical · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

Illiterate Waiting Rooms

20130625-155622.jpg
Playing at the end of her dental visit.

There’s a disturbing trend I’ve noticed at quite a few of the pediatric medical offices I’ve taken my daughter to recently. They’re DEVOID of books. No board books. No picture books. No chapter books. In fact, most are devoid of anything for kids to do except for watch television. All that I’ve been seeing in most of the waiting rooms I’ve been going to with Isabelle lately are kid size chairs and tables with a television.

Granted, I understand there are sick kids in medical offices. As a result, things have to be sanitized at the end of a given day if a medical office wants to keep germs at bay. But “Sponge Bob” on the doctor’s office television is not okay with this mom! (If you’re not familiar with the “Sponge Bob” study regarding the show’s negative effects on preschoolers’ brains, click here to learn more about it.) Perhaps a way around this is to have a sick kids waiting area, like my pediatric office had when I was a kid. Have a fever or something contagious? Well, you have to wait in isolation. You weren’t allowed to play at the chalkboard (Yes, that’s how old I am!) or with the toys in the waiting room. You had to wait by yourself with your parent. I’m sure there were kids who mixed in with the general pediatric population from time to time, but people generally respected that rule in the office. If more medical offices operated like this today, perhaps books and toys could be brought back to waiting rooms so kids could have fun while they waited for their appointment.

Perhaps the other reason there isn’t a lot of stuff in waiting rooms nowadays is because kids bring portable technology with them and play with that. Again, I’m not one of these moms. If I’m taking the stroller into an appointment, I load up the bottom basket with books and small toys. However, if I’m holding Isabelle’s hand through the parking lot, holding the diaper bag and my purse, carrying items to keep her busy in the office isn’t possible. (Maybe I need to create some toddler busy bags that I can stuff into her diaper bag.)

Alas, this morning I was delighted when I took her to the dentist for a checkup and found a fully stocked play area. (NOTE: I don’t know how often the toys are cleaned and I wasn’t about to ask. Therefore, I put sanitizer on her hands once she was done playing!) There were bead mazes, books, musical instruments, trucks, and even a play kitchen! Isabelle had such a good time playing alongside another little girl in the kitchen before her appointment that she wanted to stay for 10 minutes after her appointment to play some more (and by that point she was the only kid in there). She wanted to push the toy vacuum with one hand and cook in the kitchen with the other hand. We don’t have a toy vacuum at home and the kitchen there was very different than the play kitchen we have at home. How could I say no to that?

Would it be wrong for me to go on a mission to find out why waiting rooms around here are devoid of real things for kids to do and read? Perhaps I can get some of the offices we frequent to stock up on some basics by investigating and making gentle suggestions.

Isabelle was saying the word “hot” with her sticky sound (aka: the final t at the end of the word) over and over again. I was so delighted by it, since this is new for her, that I whipped out my iPhone and started to record her at the farmer’s market. Of course, she stopped remarking about how hot it was as soon as I pulled out the phone. Alas, she does some singing in this podcast that I think is pretty cute.

*****

media · picture books · technology

Doug Unplugged: UNPLUG & READ Blog Tour

dougunpluggedDoug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino was of special interest to me due to the lengths we’ve gone to in the past few months to reduce Isabelle’s media consumption.  As soon as I read it, I adored the story since it’s about a robot, Doug, whose parents plug him into a computer each morning so he can learn about the world around him.   They think he will learn lots of facts and therefore become “the smartest robot ever.” His parents head off to work, informing him that he’s going to spend the day learning all about the city.  But, as Doug learns facts about skyscrapers, trash cans, and taxi cabs, he spies the city from outside his home’s window. Therefore, he does the unthinkable: he unplugs and soars flies outside (using a jetpack, of course) in an effort to learn about the city by experiencing it.  He goes into the subway system, walks under the turnstile (Caution: Make sure to tell your young readers that they shouldn’t be jumping turnstiles and riding for “free” just because Doug does!), and listens to the screech of the subway trains.  He uses his jet pack to fly to the top of a skyscraper and looks down to experience the city from a different vantage point.  He gets his feet stuck in cement, learns how to hail an taxi, and cools off in a park fountain.  But most important, he makes a friend in a city park who he learns to play with. Doug’s life became enriched by experiencing the city live rather than by learning about it from a computer.  To me, one of the morals of this story is that while technology has the potential to enrich our lives, it’s important to take time to unplug so we can concentrate and live life in the way in which we want.

Now that the weather is warmer, my daughter and I have been going outside to play at least twice a day (three outdoor stints if time permits).  Sometimes we play together on her play set.  Other times we dig around in my herb garden. I watch her run up and down the hill in our yard.  Occasionally, we touch the shrubs or brown leaves that remain in the yard from last fall.  Some days I steer her SmartTrike and narrate as we take a walk.  We have no set plan when we go outside.  I take many of my cues from her.  And together, we live a simple existence outdoors.

Doug Unplugged reminds me of the importance of taking the time to  experience life away from a screen every single day.  On Monday, Screen Free Week, the annual celebration from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) begins.  I’m hoping to pick up my needlepointing and also spend more times outdoors with a book, my writer’s notebook, and my sketch pad.  We live in a world of dings notifying us whenever a friend is trying to reach us, there’s breaking news, or for a myriad of other things.  While I’ve declined nearly every app on my iPhone to send me “push notifications,” I find myself being pulled away from personal time outside. It’s my hope to unplug, like Doug does in Doug Unplugged so I can once again appreciate the world around me.  Perhaps Screen Free Week will help me lead a more purposeful existence by allowing me to cut back on media and technology so I can create an environment that has a healthier balance between screens and non-screens once Screen Free Week ends.

Random House Children’s Books is issuing an UNPLUG & READ Challenge during Screen Free Week.  It was inspired by Doug Unplugged, which is a must-read in today’s world that values communicating through devices rather than face-to-face interactions.  If you know kids (or teach a class of children) who need to unplug, reading Doug Unplugged is a great way to start a conversation about the importance of experiencing life first-hand and the value of human interactions.  Children must learn the value of living in a three-dimensional world so they can connect with others not to something.  If we don’t teach children the value of unplugging and learning from life experiences and each other, then many children are going to feel very empty, despite their media connections, in the years to come.

Giveaway Information:

  • Many thanks to Random House for sponsoring this giveaway. One commenter will win a copy of Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino.
  • To enter for a chance to win a copy please leave a comment on this post about Doug Unplugged, media and children, or unplugging for Screen Free Week, which starts this Monday, April 29th.
  • All comments left on or before Tuesday, May 7th at 11:59 p.m. EDT will be entered into a random drawing using a random number generator on Wednesday, May 8th. I will announce the winners’ names at the bottom of this post no later than Thursday, May 9th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Random House will ship the book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you only leave it in the e-mail field.)

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post.  Dana Murphy’s commenter number was selected and therefore will receive a copy of Doug Unplugged.  Here’s what she wrote:

Stacey – bless your heart for posting this. First, it sounds like a wonderful book. But more importantly, I want this book as a reminder to myself to PUT THE PHONE DOWN. I try to not be attached to my phone, but I catch myself barely listening to my kids sometimes as I’m reading emails. Terrible. I’m getting my hands on this book and I’m NOT doing that anymore!! Unplug. Yes, indeed.

Related Links:

4 Days - Doug Unplugged_4

media

The Benefits of Less TV Time

My daughter’s teacher handed me a copy of Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer (SteinerBooks, 2006) several months ago.  I began reading it earlier this month (I have several books going).  Oppenheimer is a brilliant guide since she is not only the parent of three grown boys, but she was a teacher of young children for over 30 years.  The book is providing me with tips for strengthening the rhythm in our home’s daily routine and ideas for more outdoor activities to do with my daughter.

Oppenheimer devotes several pages to the influence media has on children.  She shares her own findings (24) of what she’s noticed in children who consume too much media:

  • They have difficulty playing collaboratively.
  • Their imagination is dulled by the need to repeatedly “play through” confusing media scenarios.
  • They have a hard time with creativity’s golden rule: “Anything can be anything.”
  • Their natural capacity to imitate is stifled. It is more difficult for them to “feel their way” into life.
  • Their movement lacks purpose and grace. They tend to move in an angular, jerky fashion.

Scary, isn’t it?  It is a good reminder that children need to interact with other people, not screens!

Several months ago, my daughter’s teacher engaged parents in a conversation about the detriments of media consumption, which my husband had been talking to me about since the time she was born.  As a result of the information my daughter’s teacher provided and the scientific research my husband showed me from the AAP, we drastically reduced the amount of television our daughter watched.  No longer was “Sesame Street” the go-to activity while I was making dinner.  Instead, I tried to engage her in the meal preparation by encouraging her to cook in her kid-size kitchen.  Additionally, I turned off the morning news and my husband turned off sports when he was playing inside with Isabelle on the weekends.  At first, the reduction in television was maddening for me.  However, we made these changes because we knew it would benefit our daughter’s development and play skills in the long run.

bookstore · commercialization of childhood · media · OBSERVATIONS

Is it a bad thing that my toddler doesn’t know who Dora the Explorer is?

This is the only Dora toy we have in our house. Today, as I was listening to Toddler #1's mom read Dora books aloud, I learned that the monkey's name is Boots.  And here I've been calling him "Monkey" all along!
This is the only Dora toy we have in our house. Today, as I was listening to Toddler #1’s mom read Dora books aloud, I learned that the monkey’s name is Boots. And here I’ve been calling him “Monkey” all along!

Isabelle and I have been in the house for the better part of a week since we’ve both been sick.  I don’t even we should be around people yet, but Isabelle had a serious case of cabin fever yesterday so I knew I had to get her out of the house today.  Seeing as we’re both on antibiotics and sound worse than we probably are, I ventured out to Barnes & Noble with her for their morning story time.  Isabelle didn’t want to sit through story time (I suppose that’s because she’s finally got the energy to move around again!) so we spent most of our time by the toy train tracks.

The train area at our local B&N is adorable.  It’s in a little “room” that is complete with adult chairs and two child-size Adirondack chairs.  It is surrounded by books.  But there aren’t just any books surrounding the train tracks.  They’re all branded.  There was Thomas the Train (obviously), Disney Princess books (not as much of an alignment there), Dora the Explorer (still not sure of the train connection), and something that began with a c.  Isabelle was into the trains — that was it.  She didn’t gravitate towards the books surrounding them.  However, the other kids, who were playing with the train, were enamored by the books more than the train set.

  • Toddler #1, who was also two, kept grabbing Dora the Explorer books.  She kept saying “Dora” over and over and over and over again to her mother.  Her mom read her each of the Dora books she grabbed off of the shelf.  Isabelle, who loves books, wasn’t the slightest bit interested.  They got up and came back with — wait for it — more Dora books.  Eventually her mother pointed her to something different: a Yo Gabba Gabba book.  (I know there was a beautiful display of Caldecott Award Books in B&N.  Perhaps that would’ve yielded some higher quality picks.  Just sayin’.)
  • Toddler #2, who looked like she was three-ish, made a bee-line straight to the princess books.  She carefully selected a few books, which included Cinderella, and handed them to her grandmother.  Her grandmother suggested they bring them to a quieter part of the children’s section since Isabelle and Toddler #1 were busy playing with the trains at that moment.  (I later saw this child walking out of the store with a bag, presumably of princess books.)

Isabelle eventually wanted to have a snack.  While she ate Cheerios out of a Snack Trap, I gathered a few books from other places in the children’s section to read to her while she ate.  I grabbed Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter H. Reynolds plus two more.  I began reading aloud, in a relatively quiet voice, as Isabelle settled into an Adirondack chair with her mess-free snack.  Toddler #1’s mother, who was not reading her daughter a book at the time, looked at me funny.  I wonder if she was wondering why I didn’t just grab a Dora book, which was closer than the ones I selected.

We have a Dora toy (pictured above) in our house that Isabelle plays with.  We also have a Dora book.  Both were given to us.  I didn’t purchase either of them.  While I don’t have anything against Dora, I don’t feel the need to buy Isabelle character toys, except for Cookie and Elmo since she fell in love with them before I got on my kick to eradicate as much TV as possible.  If there’s a cartoon about it or they come to the Hershey Theater to perform, then chances are it’s not coming into my house — at least for now.  Until Isabelle goes to pre-school, I am in control of what she absorbs.  She doesn’t know who Dora the Explorer is because she doesn’t watch her show on TV.  She doesn’t know Yo Gabba Gabba since she’s never seen it on TV.  She has no clue what princesses are since we don’t do the princess thing in this house.  She has played with Thomas trains, but she couldn’t pick one out since I haven’t made it a thing.  I’ve started to think that toys should just be toys.  They don’t really  need to be named and labeled.  It’s what kids do with them, with their own imaginations, that matter.

While I am trying to provide her with an early childhood free of commercialized products, part of me wonders if I’m doing her a disservice.  What will her peers think of her when she cannot identify all of the Disney Princesses by age 3 1/2?  Will they think it’s strange that she doesn’t know anything about Dora the Explorer’s “life”?  How will they respond when they realize she’s never been to “Sesame Street Live” or “The Wiggles”?  Kids catch on pretty quickly, so I’m going to keep going on the path I’ve been on lately and will continue to keep her away from character toys.  If nothing else, I will continue to expose her to well-written and beautifully illustrated picture books while building her creativity and imagination in the process.

media · politics · reading the world · slice of life

Inauguration Day

We don’t watch much TV, with Isabelle, around these parts. Therefore, rather than stay home to watch today’s media event (I call it that since the official swearing-in happened yesterday.), we were out and about with my parents who were in town visiting for the past few days. By the time we got home, it was 2:00 p.m. Isabelle was overdue for a nap, so why not push off that nap for another half hour to watch the Inauguration Day coverage? Therefore, we snuggled on the couch and watched Senator Schumer preside over the luncheon in Statuary Hall at the Capitol. It wasn’t full of pomp and circumstance like the swearing-in, the speech, or the parade, but it was what was on at 2:00 p.m. It allowed me to say, “Hey, you watched part of the Inauguration Festivities back in 2013.”

We watched for about 20 minutes. The highlight was watching Isabelle clapped every time the invited guests applauded for the photographs, the crystal vases, and other things that were given to President Obama and Vice President Biden. However, after awhile, she got tired of clapping. She laid her head on a pillow on my lap and rested. It was time for her to go upstairs for a nap.

As I walked down the stairs after placing Isabelle in her crib, I thought back to January 1997. I had four tickets to President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration. I got them thanks to a connection I had at the White House since I volunteered at the White House Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach for a little over a year. However, I didn’t use the tickets. I gave them to four college friends. Instead, I attended my cousin’s 60th birthday party up in New York. My parents gave me permission to skip the birthday party and go to the Inauguration since it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. (Did I mention they were GREAT tickets? I would’ve been able to see the President without binoculars!) After a lot of soul searching, I decided to put family first. There would always be another inauguration, right?

One day, when Isabelle is older, it is my hope that we’ll have the chance to attend an Inauguration as a family. When that day eventually comes, I have a feeling I’ll be watching it on a Jumbotron from the National Mall, rather than ticketed seats. And that will be okay because it will give me the chance to tell Isabelle the story of 1997, the meaning of family, and the importance of waiting for the right moment in time.

20130121-164809.jpg
Izzy and I watch as Speaker Boehner made a presentation to President Obama during the luncheon.