Before I became a parent, I had a lot of fantasies about how I was going to influence my kids to like the stuff I like, and to teach them the stuff I wanted them to know.
I forgot how quickly other influences crop up. My kid is not even six and I’m already fighting a war on multiple fronts.
I think TV is winning.
The other day, my son asked me for something, and when I hesitated, he cried, “I beg you!” It was a strange phrase to hear coming from a five-year-old in 2016 America as opposed to, say, a street urchin in Dickensian London.
I asked him where he’d learned that phrase, and he said, as he often does, that he made it up. But I’m pretty sure he got it from TV. Because that’s where he gets everything.
We don’t let Detective Munch watch television at will, and he isn’t able to flip around to all sorts of potentially inappropriate channels and programs. We use Netflix, which he knows how to turn on and access, but we limit it to one or two half-hour episodes at a time, and he always comes to us and makes sure it’s okay before each episode starts up. But we don’t always sit there and watch with him.
TV is a great, often necessary babysitter, and those half-hour stints allow Mom and Buried and I to get some of our stuff done. Besides, there’s only so much “Scooby-Doo” a guy can take!
So while I don’t always know where he’s learning his latest catchphrases, I can usually guess. When he starts running around the house and saying he’s “Flashboy” I know he’s been watching “Young Justice”. And when he starts spewing random animal facts that even I don’t know, I know he’s been watching “Wild Kratts.”
It’s amazing how quickly kids absorb the material they see. It’s one of the things that makes parenting so challenging. And it’s only going to get harder. I can control what shows he sees on Netflix – which is why he is no longer allowed to watch “Young Justice” – but I have a lot less control over what his friends say and do.
He’s only (almost) six, and so are his friends, so they’re all mostly watching the same stuff. But every once in a while the Detective will come home and say something like the aforementioned, “I beg you!” and since I know he didn’t learn that in my house, I have to wonder why his friends’ parents are letting their kid watch Downton Abbey!
Thank god that’s not on Netflix. It was hard enough getting my wife to stop watching it! Although I guess there are worse influences than a show about the upper class and their servants.
I just hope my son realizes that I’m Lord Grantham and he’s Bates, not the other way around.
As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I was compensated with a year’s subscription to Netflix for a year and a Roku TV. But my opinions are 100% my own. Except for the ones Mom and Buried provides for me.