A Spoonful of Television

Last week, I wrote about my son’s need to use a nebulizer when his chest gets congested – from his allergies or from a cold.

It’s not the sexiest rig in the world (unless you find Immortan Joe sexy, and if so: YOU’RE SCARING ME), and the first few times we had to put it to use, it was a little freaky. And he wasn’t a lot into it.

Luckily, we discovered that the length of a commercial-free TV show on Netflix matches almost perfectly with the length of the nebulizer treatment. Letting him watch a show while taking his medicine became a convenient solution.

At least, it was convenient, before my son got clued in.

Ever since the first terrifying respiratory incident, Mom and Buried and I have been hyper-vigilant about Detective Munch’s breathing issues. We were advised by his doctor not to be shy with the nebulizer, and so we aren’t. Whenever he gets a cold, or even just an inkling of a cold, we bust out the machine.netflix, stream team, parenting, parenthood, entertainment, TV, movies, pop culture, kids, dads, fatherhood, dad and buried, funny dad blogs, rescue bots, octonauts, health, nebulizer, immortan joe, mad max

Each session lasts about twenty minutes, and there are three or four sessions a day (when he wakes up, before bed, and another time or two in between) depending on the severity of the cold. That’s a lot of time for a four-year-old to sit still. In order to make sure cooperates and allows the nebulizer to run its course, we have to make it worth his while. Since he’s not being punished, threats don’t seem like the way to go; it’s not his fault he’s sick.

So we bribe him instead, with Netflix. Because a spoonful of television helps the medicine go down…

My son is no stranger to Netflix. As he does with most technology he’s introduced to, he quickly became adept at using it and often takes the controls himself. We have a Roku, and he knows how to switch the video input on the TV to activate Roku and access the streaming service. He can’t read but he knows the Netflix logo, and once it starts, he knows how to quickly find whichever show he’s looking for.

The good news is there are a lot of children’s TV shows on there to keep him occupied. The bad news is, thanks to his frequent breathing treatments, he’s gotten even more skilled at using the service on his own, and has begun viewing his TV time as a right, instead of a privilege.

By the end of the second day of his latest cold, Detective Munch had clued into the fact that with each treatment came an episode of “Rescue Bots” or “Octonauts” or “Spider-man”, and suddenly the nebulizer was his favorite toy. Just this morning, weeks past any sign of sickness, he begged me for a treatment, using what may or may not have been a fake cough to bolster his case.

We don’t overload the kid with screen time, but sometimes we need it as much as he does. So I’m glad Netflix has a good-sized library of kids programming. I hate most of them, but that isn’t Netflix’s fault. I’m even starting to hate the things I love (like the old childhood favorite “Spider-man and His Amazing Friends!”), thanks to the constant repetition!

(Of course, despite the big selection, my son really only watches the three or four shows I mentioned above (and watch them he does – RIGHT INTO THE GROUND), but it’s nice to for him to have the illusion of options. It will prepare him for marriage.)

If we’re lucky, once he’s strapped into his nebulizer, he’ll put on “Little Einsteins,” because at least that way we can pretend he’s learning something. But it’s usually “Rescue Bots”, which recently released all the episodes from the third season. He suddenly has a lot of new ones to watch, to which I say: BOO! (I can’t stand Blades! He’s like my own personal Caillou, with his annoying voice and probable Canadian citizenship.)

I’ve written before about how having a kid has altered the way I use Netflix and as my son gets more and more adept at navigating it on his own, it’s only getting worse. As a Film Studies minor and expert Kevin Bacon Game player, I used to use Netflix to catch up on my education, gathering overlooked classics and must-see foreign films in my queue. These days it’s hard to locate Force Majeure amidst all the children’s TV shows.

So while I certainly hope his recent respiratory issues don’t linger into his teenage years, if they do, at least the selection of shows he can watch while receiving his breathing treatment will expand. I can’t wait to use his nebulizer time to show him the entire run of “Seinfeld”!

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As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I was compensated with a year’s subscription to Netflix for a year and an iPad Mini. But my opinions are 100% my own.

Except for the ones Mom and Buried provides for me.

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