My daughter spent 4 1/2 months living with her father this last winter and spring. In our house, she does not watch television and movies are limited, nor does she play idiot, I mean video games, or ever listen to music on headphones. (She is a Waldorf student, after all, and I have followed these teachings as closely as possible.) At Dad’s house, she was given a television in her room. He let her play video games and bury her brain in headphones listening to true corporate crap. The differences since she spent those four months watching the stupid box are enormous. She was sold on corporate culture, began to believe most advertising (although she is also skeptical if the ad isn’t cute and geared toward selling to a ten-year-old), and generally thinks all the television that was left on at all hours of the day was entertaining.
I don’t know if I did her any favors keeping this shit from her if seeing it makes it so palatable. Yet I still would not change that most of her life has not been spent in front of the idiot box. The first couple of weeks after she came home she kept claiming she was “bored” and wanting me to entertain her. Then she slipped back into her home routine and started knitting and creating plays for her stuffed animals and reading, doing all those things with her mind she did not do when she had an idiot box to stare at.
It blows my mind that parents find the thing “educational” and “interactive.” It might present some content or ask questions the child answers, but the child is still sitting there on her butt, being told or asked by flashing movements, more loud and ugly these days. The child is not out making the discovery on her own, thinking and creating, truly interacting.
Milla proved to us her ability to create and design and think on her own, using her own mind. She planned and executed an amazing dog wedding between our dog and the neighbor dog, Luke. She designed and sewed Ava’s gown and veil. She made a marriage certificate with a shiny, glittery, yellow seal. There was a guest list for us all to sign. She wrote the vows and planned the ceremony. She chose the music for all aspects of the ceremony, including the processional, after the vows, the first dances, and the reception. She designed decorations and hung them in the yard, Ava and Luke Tie the Knot. All of it was thorough and amazing. She’s ten. This is what she does instead of staring at the television.
I was thinking about all of this this morning. There was an ad on Dan’s computer before something he was watching on Huffington Post. Milla saw it and said it was a funny commercial. She had seen it at her dad’s. She told us the premise. To me it sounded so damn stupid and ridiculous, nothing funny at all, and I felt sad that she found this shit she had seen on the idiot box amusing. However I long ago realized that her life is hers to live, not mine to control. I can provide certain influences, but so do so many other things and ultimately she will make her own choices. I can only hope that the influences I’ve provided help her to be a functional, healthy, and happy adult. That’s the thing about parenting, if we do our jobs, this is exactly how it should be.