Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toddlers, movie theatres, and the race to grow up

Cars 2 is coming out this month and even though my 3-year-old is obsessed with cars, trucks, buses, and anything with wheels (as well as the movie Cars), he will not be going to the movie theatre to see the sequel. I know, I know, that makes me a horrible mother, right? Here's the thing: movies come out on DVD before you can even blink an eye these days. Once I preview it, I am sure my son will be able to watch Lightning and Mater race through Japan just like all of the other kids his age. He has no idea the movie is coming out soon; all he knows is that there is a whole slew of new cars that Grammy will surely be spoiling him with over the next few months. And in his world, it doesn't get much better than that. :)

Movie theatres are loud, dark, and can be scary places for toddlers. The seats are funny in that they don't stay down unless enough weight is pressed on them. Kids are expected to sit quietly for two hours and watch as things zip from one side of the screen to the other at the speed of light. There is no chance for parents to explain what is happening to their children for fear of disrupting other viewers. Toddlers are, by nature, curious and ask questions. They are sponges soaking up the juices of life and it's a beautiful thing to watch. To make them sit down, shut up, and zone out to a screen for hours goes against all aspects of their being. Instead, they should be running through a park, playing in a sandbox, riding a tricycle, kicking a ball around, reading a book, or playing a board game. Yes, I know this makes me sound old-fashioned but what happened to good old childhood fun? Why are toddlers cooped in inside playing video games (intended for teenagers) and watching TV (intended for older children) all day long at 3 years old?? Where has childhood innocence gone???

"But he's going to be exposed to those video games and TV shows anyway. Why not be the one to introduce him?" - To that I respond that I am his mother. I am responsible for guiding him to become the best person he can be. Yes, he will find out about all of the inappropiate games, shows, etc out there but why does it have to be NOW?? He will find out that the world isn't always a safe place....should I just start beating up on him now? He will find out that people are cruel....should I just wreck his confidence now and get it over with? He will find out that the world isn't fair.....should I just take everything that's his and leave him empty now? In my opinion, there is a time to discover the injustice, the suffering, the pain, the brutality, and the "reality" of the world we live in. My son will find out soon enough. Too soon, in my opinion, but I can't shelter him forever. What I can do is provide a strong foundation for him so that when he is exposed to all of it, he doesn't crumble into pieces. And in the meantime, I can LET HIM BE A CHILD. There are so many things about this world that children do not need to know. Yet we rip their childhood right out from underneath them by forcing them to grow up long before they should. Certain shows are created for teenagers. Certain video games are created for teenagers. How does my 3-year-old have any business watching or playing them??? Let him have his Sesame Street and Candy Land. 90% of the shows geared for children are garbage anyway. They claim to be "educational" but what are they teaching him that I can't? Active learning surpasses passive learning anyday. He can learn more from a day at the playground counting rocks, sorting balls, clapping to the beat, and partaking in a game of tag than he could watching any show out there. It boils down to my wanting my child to be a regular kid doing regular kid activities. Save the movie theatre for when he's older and can appreciate and maybe even benefit from the experience. It will be a true treat, not something he's been doing since he learned to walk. For now, he's content to play in the sandbox out back with the new red, white, and green race car that Grammy bought him. I believe its name is Francesco.

1 comment:

  1. You're not "old fashioned." An old fashioned approach would be for me to take him out to the backyard garden and put him to work tilling, planting, watering, and weeding. It'd be preparing him for a life of work in mills, factories, or the military. The idea of childhood is a post-modern creation, spawned by the notion of a utopian view that people in general wouldn't have to work in a "perfect world" driven by technology.