Why My 11 Year Old Should Be Allowed to Watch More T.V.

I am no stranger to the rebelious streak.

Not mine so much, but I had the privilege to grow up in the shadow of a genius brother who never missed an opportunity to disembowel our parents 8 track player the second they backed out of the driveway for their Friday night movie with the neighbors. As the adults watched the lastest Burt Reynolds film, I was made an unwilling accomplice as Official Time Keeper and Look Out while my [younger!] sibling studied the inner workings of that weeks victim. Nothing was safe; record players, speakers, toasters, plumbing…

Kids, this is the slow Wooly Mammoth of MP3 evolution.

All these years later, I take back most of what I said about sending my brother to evil medical school. That’s a real thing, right ? As fate would have it, he is gainfully employed as an engineer. So I like to think living in fear for those years were not in vain.

Now having children, I realize many have a curious streak. However, I am starting to wonder if I missed that line in the sand between ‘normal behavior‘ and ‘we should install serveillance cameras’.

Our 11 year old started innocently enough, with the lab “How fast will different lip gloss brands melt in the sun”. Once the wax filtered out of the pool, she was forgiven.

Then it was on to “How many ways are there to explode a full can of soda”. Oh, and lets not forget Part II : “Which method will yield  the largest splatter area”. It was discovered dropping a brick exploded the can well enough, but a single nail quickly driven through resulted in the highest spray. We had the last laugh, it is now our excuse for not keeping soda in the house.

Last night took a sinister turn. She was found wandering the halls like a villager warding off vampires, carrying a narrow log she somehow managed to pull from the fireplace, burning bright at one end. She claimed she was merely lighting the candles across the mantle and thought she’d take a moment to light any others around the house.

I’m thinking the “Angry Mob Play Set” for her next birthday?!

Her defense was simple: If we would let her watch TV on school nights, she wouldn’t be forced to come up with her own means of amusement.

This is MY fault?

Should I be concerned?  Should we be sleeping in shifts?

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5 comments

  1. That’s rather frightening. It’s hard to know what to do or what to suggest without knowing the daughter, because so many solutions just don’t carry over from one parenting experience to another; don’t apply to some children as to others.

    Even then, there’s probably no blanketing answer, or a right or wrong. Just the result that may or may not make everyone happy.

    On the one hand, Television can be quite dangerous; not in of itself, but what television represents. It’s extraordinarily easy pleasure. Pleasure isn’t a problem: the ease is, because our brains naturally seek out the simplest, easiest ways to feel gratification.

    For children, happiness = pleasure.
    For adults, happiness = achievement.

    So many from my generation have grown up addicted to pleasure, and when they advance from needing pleasure to achievement, they continue tapping easy pleasure outlets. I myself grew up addicted, but at the very least I am aware of my problem, and I’m slowly battling it day after day. So many I once knew feel the pain of lacking achievement, and so they drown themselves in alcohol and drugs and computer games and just whatever pleasure outlets they can reach, because that’s what they know how to do but the pleasure’s so empty. It’s not fulfilling, and it doesn’t bring happiness.

    Our metaphysical needs slowly, inevitably grow up with our experiences and pleasure boils down from a source of happiness to a form of stress relief. Stress relief is very important, but it can’t sustain a human adult’s spiritual, social, and psyche needs.

    From my own personal experience as a kid, I believed in those activities that my parents shared in. When my parents sent me and my brothers to taekwondo, the appeal wore off so fast because it just seemed like, “oh, go do this and keep busy.” Cooking though? My parents cooked a lot. Me and my siblings took earnestly to cooking, because we could see the interest, the passion, the results and processes and everything that went into cooking from our parents. Coincidentally, my bros and I are all skillful amateur cooks.

    If your daughter needs something to do, she may invest more personally into a new activity if it’s something sharable with you. I don’t know you, so I can’t suggest something specifically, but if you’re say, a workout junkie, you could try working out together. Whatever your interests, if there’s some skill-developing hobby you could share with your daughter, I think her interest in the activity would continue naturally on its own; *provided* that it sticks initially and roots some seedling interest to begin with.

    The answer to your problem might even lie in television. Maybe a series you two could enjoy together. Documentaries could be good too. There’s so much good information out there, and documentaries come with the added benefits of triggering curiosity and enabling some good post-program discussions. Watching television together with someone can transform TV from a basic pleasure outlet into an act of social bonding. However the dangers of pleasure addiction are probably still present, but it’s kind of like adding vitamins to gummy bears. If you’re gonna eat a gummy bear anyway, what’s the harm in adding a few good things to it?

    Pleasure addiction is dangerous and incredibly crippling at later ages, and you’re absolutely right as a parent to consider television with such wariness.

    Then again, unsupervised flammable material on fire around a house filled with flammable materials is very dangerous and scary too…

    That’s a powerful, difficult dilemma. I hope my own experiences and wisdom derived from my own childhood helps, in some way or other, and if nothing else I wish you luck in this matter.

    1. Thanks for all your thought and wise words…. What worries me is we have put much effort into activities as family, and making sure we have craft supplies around, even an area for painting (becuz she claims she “looooves” art), have a great yard, and we live walking distance to the library…there really is no excuse for the “I’m bored” routine.
      Our youngest is only open if I try to offer suggestions, help or join in – not “cool” for the older. I also try to get them involved in cooking,
      but of course the older one doesnt think thats cool either.
      We allow for TV/movies on weekends & rainy days, but need to monitor it because she tends to mimic what she sees and uses “but this character did it ” as reasoning for her.
      She is definately driven by pleasure, not achievement. Stay tuned, I’m sure there will be more !

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