Before I had children, I had grand plans of protecting my future spawn from the evils of television. I remember babysitting my nieces one time and being disgusted by the crude, seizure-inducing nonsense mascarading as children’s entertainment and thinking, Not for my kids! I wasn’t delusional enough to think I was going to adopt a unilateral no-TV rule (even idealistic pre-kid Maureen had the foresight to know that a little TV time was going to be vital to maintaining my own sanity), but I had every intention of limiting the viewing options to age-appropriate educational programming and enforcing some serious daily screen-time limits to ensure that my children didn’t spend their days zoned out on the couch when they should be playing outside or learning algebra or something.
How cute, right? Bless my little heart.
Three years later, I can tell you that my track record on regulating both the quality and quantity of television consumed by my child is…shaky. At best. You may remember1 that I screwed up right from the get-go by watching true crime dramas while feeding Bubba as an infant, but I forgive myself for that one since he wasn’t really watching and I did put a stop to it once I saw him start to take a peek at the murder scenes. When he was old enough to actually watch a show himself, I did start out with Sesame Street and Super Why and other pseudo-educational options…but then the kids at daycare started telling him about Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers and I felt bad having him be out of the loop, and my husband somehow convinced me that they really needed to watch WWE together for bonding purposes, and at the same time I realized that allowing him to watch TV meant I could have some glorious quiet time, and my smug anti-TV stance began to wane.
Still, though, I had some standards. I tried to avoid Cartoon Network since their shows are the most obnoxious (not to mention the incessant commercials for as-seen-on-tv crap that looks awesome but is doomed to break within moments once in the hands of an actual human child) and always encouraged other more worthy activities ahead of TV watching2. I knew I wasn’t doing a great job enforcing TV limits and boundaries, but I let myself slide since at least I wasn’t letting him watch soap operas or something.
Until Baby G was born and a fatal combination of laziness, sleep deprivation, and a desire to give Bubba some alone time with Mama somehow spiraled into the creation of a nightly ritual in which my three year old son and I snuggle up in bed and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
You know, that show about sexy doctors doing surgery on maimed and gravely ill individuals. Pretty much right on par with Sesame Street, right?
I know, guys, I’m THE WORST.
It started innocently enough. I got in the habit of nursing Baby in my bed while Daddy got Bubba ready for bed, and I used those precious few moments of alone time (Baby notwithstanding…sorry, Baby) to binge-watch all the Grey’s Anatomy I had missed out on in my twenties by thinking I was too good for trashy shows3. Bubba came into the room one evening and asked if he could snuggle with me, and while I attempted to turn off the smut like a good parent would, he declared that he WANTED to watch “The Doctor Show.” Furthermore, he demanded to know what kind of injury the dear fellow on screen had sustained, and if, in fact, said injury had been sustained when the guy — and I quote — “was climbing on dangerous stuff and then he came crashing down like POW CAPOW OWWWWW!”
So now every night he asks if he can watch Doctor Show with me, and every night I say yes because I just love him too much and it’s not the same if we watch something else. And I’m not a total monster: I mute the sound and turn on the captions so I can follow the story while Bubba just watches the doctors rush around trying to save people with terrible injuries, the sights of which may or may not scar a three year old for life (TBD). He asks questions about every patient and speculates on how their injury or illness may have come to be (“did he fall like CAPOW? Did he get too much germs in his blood?”) and provides some delightful commentary on the lives of medical professionals (“why are those doctors not wearing their doctor coats at home? Are those doctors friends?”), while we eat snacks and share my blankets and just enjoy each others company. It’s a marvelous way to unwind at the end of the day and I only feel marginally guilty that this wonderful bonding experience is centered around a show that features a character named McDreamy.
And yes, I realize I could probably find a better way to nurse Baby and give Bubba some attention at the same time, but then when would I find out if Cristina and Owen are going to break up or if Bailey’s OCD will get cured or if Arizona will ever shut up about her damn amputated leg?!
OK, I’m the worst.
1That post was from three years ago. If you really did remember it, congratulations on being my biggest (and presumably only) fan!
2OK, not always. Usually would be a more fair assessment. Unless I am really tired. Or need a break. Or….just stop judging me, ok?! Go watch some TV.
3So much wasted time! What else did I miss?!