I read yet another article in yet another Mommy magazine about screen time for young children. As in, the experts say we’re supposed to limit it for preschoolers, and not let kids under age two have any at all. And as I read, I wondered, do these experts have many young children? And if they do, when the heck do they shower?
I fully admit to using the TV as a babysitter. Not every day, and not for hours a day, and with decent, educational programming, but yeah, it happens. My boys love the morning shows on PBS, and some days, that’s the most productive 30 to 60 minutes of my day. If I’m being perfectly honest, there’s a pretty good chance that Max has learned most of his letter sounds from Duck on Word World rather than his former-teacher mother who happens to have a Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy. Judge if you must, and if you can come up with a better plan for me to get some dishes, laundry, or showering done around here, feel free to let me know.
I suppose as long as I’m ‘fessing up, I might as well share that Max is incredibly good at Wii racing games, and even two-year-old Jack can fly the airplane on Wii Resort. All three big kids also know how to work my iPod, and are almost as addicted to Angry Birds as I am. What can I say, the iPod is incredibly convenient for keeping me company while I nurse, something that occupies another large chunk of my day. Between Facebook and a few games, I sneak a little “me time” into feeding the baby.
Like most parents, I’m far from perfect. A friend posted a “confessions” contest on her blog, and I had to laugh at the winning entry: One of her friends has a preschool daughter who can sing along to all the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs. Her comment was, “Hey, I grew up listening to Madonna, and I turned out OK!” While I’m hoping I don’t have to hear Gracie singing about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack for a while, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my parental imperfections.
My kids ate chicken nuggets four days in a row last week. I sometimes let the baby cry for an extra minute so I can get a drink, the phone, the remote controls, and yes, the iPod before I settle in to nurse him. Unfortunately, I’ve uttered the words, “It’s just a little pee” in reference to an article of my clothing that’s been leaked on, and that I’m too lazy or busy to change. I’ve been known to selectively edit stories to make them shorter when bed time is running late…not so much because I’m concerned about the amount of sleep the kids will get, but because I don’t want to miss the beginning of Modern Family.
The baby got a bath today, but it was in the sink because I couldn’t reach his baby bath tub, and I didn’t want to rearrange things or get something to stand on to get it. It was the first time he’d had a real bath in, umm, let’s just say “a while,” because honestly, I don’t know. Yes, I know that’s horrible, but babies don’t sweat or roll in mud, and the only part of him that gets dirty gets cleaned on a very regular basis (at least I have that going for me!). You’d think that after four kids, three of them boys, that I would have learned something about certain parts and where they’re aimed, but no. I ended up giving the wall a bath too after Zachary gave it a rather impressive shower.
They say confession is good for the soul. I say that honesty about our imperfections as parents helps us take ourselves less seriously and roll with the punches. There’s no denying that parenting babies and very young children is messy and exhausting, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things a person can do. It’ll be over before we realize it, and until then we’ll just do the best we can. Now I’m off to go engage my kids in some enriching, creative, mind-expanding play. Or maybe we’ll just watch Word World together.