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Mommy from Another Planet

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Dani Klein Modisett: "You are just my Mommy, you are not some alien who can crawl into my brain and tell me what to do!" my six-year-old announced to me this morning when I asked him to get dressed for school.

boy watching tv

Aliens entering his brain? What the ... ?

Then I took him to the movies in the afternoon and the funniest lines in the recently released "Imagine That" do not come out of Eddie Murphy's mouth, they're said by a whip-smart little boy when offered a pastry in exchange for a blanket by Murphy's character: "Scone?" the 8-year-old snaps. "What do I look like, the Queen of England?"

And what about the action figures I bought my son from the TV show "Ben Ten" because his friends had them? A show I'd never seen until I decided to snuggle with him on the couch and familiarize myself with the characters that get his adrenaline so pumped.

"Oh, THAT's a great idea!" Ben said to the uncle who takes care of him, implying just the opposite. "That's just stupid," was close on its heels.

Uh oh.

What have I been allowing my innocent child to be exposed to? No wonder eye-rolling and declarations of the superior power of aliens have become common occurrences at the dinner table.

I'd heard Squidward refer to SpongeBob (a household TV staple that now even my two-year-old looks forward to) as an "idiot" more than once, but turned a deaf ear to it, assuming my son would do the same since Squidward is so not the guy you want to be in life. How naive of me. Anyone who's ever been around a first grader knows children are way more sponge-like than SpongeBob, soaking up all language and tone they are starting to decode.  

Turns out it's not just the obvious R-rated movies with their four-letter-word-stuffed, blatant sex and violence scenes I need to keep my kids shielded from -- it's "kids' entertainment" with its undercurrent of cynicism and "hilarious" contempt for adults that is much more insidious.

But I love a good laugh sitting on my couch at the end of the day, and TV can often deliver that, so I can't tell my kids "no TV" like some families I know. My concern over its influence does mean that rather than parking my children in front of the television while I check e-mail and write articles like this one, I actually have to watch with them and make sure the derisive TV aliens don't literally crawl into their brains and take over.

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Emma June 18, 2009, 2:13 PM

Really good article because that’s how i feel. I don’t say no TV but I do say no to certain T.V.shows ( like spongebob) Everything in moderation is what i say.

mama_chita June 18, 2009, 10:51 PM

I was so happy to see this post today! I’ve recently become concerned about some of the themes and phrases used on some PBS shows (‘WordGirl’ and ‘Cyberchase’), for the exact same reasons you’ve mentioned above. Great resolution — to try to watch the shows with the kids, instead of doing what-I-need-to-do while it is on. May be easier said than done, but will try that approach, before I try to ‘eliminate’ the show from being watched. Thank you :)

Melissa June 19, 2009, 2:21 AM

Umm, it took your child getting to this point before you decided to monitor what he’s watching? Shouldn’t that have been done from the start? Television is for entertainment, not babysitting.

The Voice of Reason June 20, 2009, 2:44 PM

Oh give me a god damn break. Why don’t you just let them watch teletubbies on permanent loop for the rest of their lives? Just a decade ago, kids were watching shows as crude as Ren and Stimpy and you don’t see them out there creating havoc and chaos. It’s because morons like you people who want to show your kids only sunshine and rainbows is why there is no such thing as quality television for kids. Most kids shows now a days are very condescending. I think it’s great if a kid is exposed to smart wit themes and sarcasm. You know how many teenagers and adults are boring to talk to because they have no sense of humor and no personality? Who wants to mold their child into a good two shoes robot?

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