Bad Mama

So we've already determined that I'm a bad mama because I let my almost eighteen-month old watch TV -- just Sesame Street -- but TV nonetheless.

But I've been thinking a lot about the research that says that children shouldn't watch any TV before they're two. What I have noticed is that my daughter's language capabilities have skyrocketed since she started watching it. I don't know if it is the style of talking that is prevalent on the show or her comfort with the characters or just the sheer excitement of the presentation of letters, numbers and words. I haven't noticed that having it on has had any negative impact on my now four-month-old either. If anything, she gurgles and giggles more when she hears her big sister talking. For example, Elmo's World did a segment on bananas, and at the end of it, he sang "The Banana Song" to the tune of "Jingle Bells," and days later, Josephine is still singing it. And every time she does, her little sister cracks up. The day she saw it, Josephine RAN to the kitchen and wanted a banana -- shrieked with perfect diction in perfect rhythm of the song. She learned to count to four in another episode, and now she lines up things and counts them. In fact, I think she may be nursing a major crush on The Count.

So what's so bad about this small TV habit? Are the researchers issuing an overly cautious caution so that dumb parents don't strand their kids in front of COPS or 24 or some other less educational, overly sexual or violent programming? I suppose I should read the research before I go and spout off about it, but done responsibly and in moderation (ummmmmm like everything in life) it seems more than fine to me. Media is a huge part of our culture, and don't we need to show our children how to integrate it into life without becoming a couch potato?

I am an educator, but I can't say that day-to-day life in our home would have taught her the counting -- and certainly not the sheer joy of landing on "FOUR!" the way Sesame Street has. I can't say that I would ever have thought to sing "Jingle Bells" using only the word banana. I'm grateful for the intelligent, timeless programming that is offered by PBS -- it's a great crutch for a Baby Buncher like me -- and it's really fun for my babies.