Wednesday, February 20, 2008

don't up the ante

Having told about the circus, I feel obliged to mention how little we've done events like that. I want the special events to be just that, really special. I feel like if I take them to big stuff too often, they'll begin to expect it. We have a parenting philosophy around here that I think is pretty unusual these days. We call it "don't up the ante". The theory is that if your child is happy with a toilet paper tube, you shouldn't buy them a wii. You wait for them to be bored by the toilet paper tube and then you give them a paper towel tube. You might be able to put off the wii forever this way.

Obviously many people are buying wiis (spelling help welcome!) for themselves and that's fine. I'm not really judgmental about this philosophy. Maybe part of it is just cheap. But it has made for some very creative children. Additionally, noisy toys just get to me in a hurry. I get stressed out by the noise and I get crabby. So battery toys sort of "disappear" quickly. Most people know our philosophy and try to give our kids more old fashioned toys. Lego, Magnetix, cars and trains. Lots of dress ups. Lots of art materials. No remote control cars. No dancing characters. No electronic toys of any sort. No wii.

We're actually even worse. They don't watch tv either. As opposed to the toy issue, this wasn't a big philosophical decision; it just happened. I'd worked full time until Pook was born, so I wasn't in a daytime tv habit. I'd put him in front of Clifford or Elmo and he'd ignore it, so I'd decide he was too young still. Then I'd hear other friends talk about their babies watching a show, so I'd try again. Really not interested. We got in our own routines and they didn't include tv. At some point I realized that we'd made it so far without using tv as a babysitter and perhaps this was a good thing. Around then Bug was born and I decided, philosophically now, to let him have the same tv-free years that Pook had enjoyed. It was harder this time, but we lived through a few tough stages and got used to it. I'm not even sure where in their day tv would fit. There isn't another free time activity that they'd give up. Plus, we'll have a "movie night" and watch something short every once in a while together. We've even borrowed a dvd player for the car on a long trip. This winter vacation we let them see their first full length movies- Nemo and Toy Story, courtesy of Netflix.

Yes, Netflix. We also have a TiVo. Why? Because my husband and I watch tv almost every night after the kids are in bed. Hypocritical? I think it isn't. I'm not going to keep them away from tv forever. Technology either. Disney either. Pook has our old laptop for his online homework (!) already, and if they ask, I try to schedule a movie night. I'd say we do them at least twice a month. We'll gradually up the ante and let them watch tv more as they get older. When either Pook or Bug comes home from school and says "everyone else watches..." then I'll check the show out and probably let him watch it too. But I'm taking it slow (and I'll TiVo it to avoid the commercials!)

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your philosophy by keeping the toys simple, therein forcing the kids to use their imaginations.

    TiVo, I LOVE TiVO. We recently had to change from satellite to cable and have to use their DVR. It sucks. I miss TiVo. Their is brilliance in the simplicity of using TiVo.