Oliver has fallen asleep while listening to a book on tape. I placed an ipod in his room with little speakers that held downloaded stories of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Berney. We put our TV downstairs a few months back because 1. it was an eye sore sitting like a dunce in the corner of the room. This box had no friends and was unwanted so we sent her into a room where she could sit alone in her shame. And 2. we never used her. She was unloved and we were uninterested in her. We put her on a wooden plank, covered her with a cloth so dust wouldn’t spoil her inner workings and we forgot about her. We don’t miss her at all, except that I can’t see Oprah anymore. I dig Oprah! Unashamedly I can say, “she’s my girl!” That’s another post!
The real reason we put her downstairs was because I was tired of waking up every morning to hear, “Can I watch Sesame St? Can I watch a movie? I want to watch PBS kids”. I think PBS kids is better than most of the base and glamourous television out there but I was kidding myself in thinking because they were watching Word Girl instead of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Brats that they were actually learning something. I am someone who goes about the house “doing” things (cleaning, remodeling, gardening, baking) and as my kids get older I see the hunger in them to learn and devour information. They want to hear stories that burst their little imaginations. I have been getting books from the library for Oliver since he was crawling and after he was walking I was hitting the libraray weekly. Lately we go every few days. He’s still not super interested in hearing stories; the TV or computer is much more appealing to him. I have to say that laziness and passivity is much easier than engaging your mind. I know this from personal experience. I grew up on cable TV and wasted my middle school and high school years in front of reruns of Growing Pains or Perfect Strangers and movies that rock like Ferris Bueler’s Day Off. I’m not downplaying entertainment. I/we all need those moments of rest. But the average child watches not 2 or 3 but 7 hours of TV a day. That’s not including the newest addition to the 21st century, social networking!
I don’t know what our children are going to end up like. There are so many variables and we can’t, as parents, make them be who we want them to be. But I have decicede that I will read to my kids! I want them to engage their imaginations (which happens when you speak, read, and verbalize to them in a variety of forms) and to enjoy or welcome silence in our home. The constant of noise is overwhelming. Noise, noise, noise. I long for peace and laughter in our home. We hear and feel it but I want more. I want space, smells, lulling sounds rather than thunderous noise. Calm. Laughter. Singing. Playing. Reading!
I read to my kids all the time. It’s lucious for their brains; candy, honey, warm cider! They devour images, adjectives, stars and moons. As a writer I desire communication in our lives and creativity to come out of who we are. My kids won’t find their niche as they are passively led by a box who screams, “Buy this, indulge in that. Sex me up and cuss me out!” I don’t feel this deeply out of a church backed initiative. I feel pasionately as a mother who loves her kids and wants beauty to fill their minds with words that describe and communicate life in all of it’s splendor, colorfulness, pain and ugliness that real people experience. The actual world is not lived in Friends or Lavern and Shirley (shows I still laugh hardily at)! The real world is lived in Sassafras Spings and The Boys of Baraka. Here is where wonder is free to roam and the imagination is unleashed in the minds of little humans.
Chloe is often playing with her fingers, pretending they are little people. I hear her speaking lines out of stories I’ve read to her and I hear Oliver quoting passages from books he’s heard or making up the same characters from a story I’ve read him. We have many moments of ‘story time’ during the day and Chloe eats it up. Oliver is still balking every time I say, “Ok, let’s hear some stories!” but when I read he’s locked in. We read at night and all through the day. I’m also reading a book about reading to your kids. It’s silly to read a book about reading but it’s super insightful. I’m more convinced that we’re investing into our children by opening pages of new worlds that they can become lost in.
Read to your children!