So here’s another potentially loaded parenting topic: kids and television. In his first year of life, my son’s screen time has been very limited, mostly because we adults don’t watch much TV during the day anyway. He has been exposed to a few Red Sox games and a few Patriot’s games with commercials muted because they are so loud and obnoxious, but I have felt OK about that since after an initial glance the television has never held his interest.
On weekend days we usually have music of varying types playing in the background while we go about our day (Singers & Standards if my husband has the remote, Adult Alternative if I do) and the kid stays busy playing with toys, chasing the pets, and getting into things he shouldn’t. Weekdays give us precious little time to be together before the little person goes to sleep, so it’s easy to avoid the lure of television during those times and focus on singing songs, looking at books, and splashing in the bath.
But. There is a point in our morning routine where we need to get final things together, put on coats and hats, and sometimes clip fingernails and wash reluctant little faces. For that time, there is only one thing that will do: Rosie’s Walk. We stumbled on this video by accident, and it holds the baby’s attention 100% of the time. At 4ish minutes, it’s just enough to get those last things done without any tiny fingers getting into forbidden places. And it’s freaking adorable to watch him watch Rosie the hen go on her barnyard stroll.
There are few words of narration and some catchy music, but the bulk of the action consists of images of a fox being foiled in his attempts to get Rosie while she’s out and about. He has been watching Rosie for a few weeks now, and today, as he sat watching and I made his lunch at the counter behind him, he turned to me and laughed when the fox (spoiler alert!) got a load of flour dumped on his head. People, he’s not even thirteen months old.
I am totally on board with the idea that television and very young children and babies are not a good mix if done to excess (like most things). I don’t want my son to be overly exposed to commercials that are marketing toys and junky food to him. I don’t want the constant background noise detracting from our interactions as a family. I don’t want passive screen-watching time to replace active time in his day. All that said, I have no idea how I would have taught a preverbal child about what was funny about the fox having flour dumped on his head while Rosie strutted away unharmed. Yes, he may have understood that from looking at the pictures in a book. But I would have wondered if he was cued to the humor by my recounting of the story, or influenced in his reaction by my own.
It was so fabulous to see him take in what he was seeing, process it, and turn to me to share his reaction. It did underscore how messages from a screen can have an impact on such young brains and why it is so important to choose appropriate things for them to view, which I will be mindful of. In the meantime, I hope he continues to enjoy Rosie’s Walk as his dose of media for the day.
So, Fabulous Thing #36: Watching my son root for Rosie.