Bella peeks over the side of the table and watches me work, then sighs.
“Mama?” she says in an expecting voice.
I know what’s coming. We’ve been busy most of the morning with chores and playing. I take about a half hour to 45 minutes to work and it’s time for her to be on her own.
“Can I watch a show?”
I knew it.
We don’t watch a lot of TV here, and some days we don’t watch any at all. Yet the older Bella gets, the bigger of a draw this is for her instead of finding something to do. It also gets more attractive to me — I could pick an educational show off Netflix. Guilt-free. She’d be totally silent the entire time.
Sometimes I do this. But most of the time I fight the urge to give in and simply say, “Not right now, let’s wait until Daddy gets home. You can find something to do in here while I work.” Then come what may (and often it’s a barrage of whining) I stick to the plan. When she’s able to see I mean business, she eventually finds something to do. Usually these are the moments when she’s her more creative — the usual toys and games all seem boring to her, so she comes up with ideas to keep herself busy.
When I was a nanny, I’d make a “No TV” rule during school breaks and over the summer. While I was there, the TV stayed off. Even the older kids (aged 8-12) who were livid about this at first, soon came to realize there was a lot to do inside and outside. Neighborhood kids whose parents had the same idea would gravitate towards them, and soon garages were finish lines, trees were hiding spots, bicycles were taken out and actual adventures were had — not watched.
I want this for my daughter. My goal is for her to look back on these moments in her childhood and remember them fondly. I want her to live up to her fullest potential. She can only do this by learning how she learns, what she likes, how she feels — without the TV as a “helper” or distraction.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.