Monday, October 29th, 2012
You know what pisses me off? Television for my kids. Okay, I’ll admit it. Fia hasn’t learned to spell or read only from us. We read books every night, but what has really taught her is Sesame Street and Super Why. Both PBS shows (please don’t take away Big Bird if–god forbid–you get elected Romney).
But what these shows, particularly Super Why, has also taught her is to fear–of the dark, of shadows, of monsters. These are things she never even contemplated before. She has always slept in a pitch-black room, with one small nightlight. But ever since an episode of Super Why where the little girl was scared in the night, Fia has insisted we keep her closet light on and her door slightly open. The latter has meant she can hear Emmett cry and subsequently she wakes up. But that’s not nearly as frustrating as watching her become afraid.
Her recent fascination with shadows is at times fun and playful (and annoying when you decide on a stupid whim to have her sleep in bed with you), but other times it’s steeped in fear. “Mama, look at that shadow!” she’ll whine. “It’s S-C-A-R-Y!”
Spiders are another one. In the past she loved to look at them. Now she screams, “Mama, a spider!” and runs the other way. Even spider webs, which used to fascinate, have her freaked.
I don’t want to totally bash TV because I am fully aware of the tradeoff. She has learned a ton from it. But producers, do you have to frighten in your themes? Learning is fun for them. Being scared isn’t.
If we never taught our children to fear the dark or spiders, would they grow up not afraid? Or is this something that eventually happens by being a member of society anyway? In other words, am I kidding myself to think I could have avoided her arachnophobia if she hadn’t seen those episodes? I’m not sure. I know she never learned the word “mine” and toy-grabbing until she hung out with kids who did that. But how did those kids learn? Was it just inherent in their personalities and thus this is just part of life? Or did they learn it from someone who learned it from something, and so on?
Of course when it’s appropriate, she’ll learn stranger danger (we should probably start on that soon), the basics of safety and eventually the staggering problems of the world. But during the tender age of toddlerhood I could stand her being left in the dark a bit longer. Without a light on.
Afraid of Dark Picture via Shutterstock