Last night the hubby got stuck with 24-hour duty. And of course it was one of the most beautiful spring afternoons you could imagine and he was stuck in a building with no windows, poor guy. So we swung through the Wendy’s drive-thru, like the home-cooking wife that I am, and grabbed him a bacon cheeseburger. But before we did that I had to stop at a little not-so-secret picture spot on base. All the photographers know it and you can’t really go there without seeing another one. But it’s gorgeous so I used it anyway. Mitchell had on a little Batman outfit I just needed a picture of and my camera was sitting in the passenger seat [always within arm’s reach], so why not?
We hopped out of the car and it took all of about five minutes for me to get some good ones and Mitchell’s attention span to be nonexistent [as if it existed in the first place]. We left Julia snoozing in her carseat and the window open with a nice little breeze blowing through the car. Did I mention it was a beautiful day?
I tried distracting Mitchell with pinecones, but he found a few sticks that seemed to do the trick a little better. It amazed me what happened next. He brought me a stick and put it in my hand.
Then, when I wasn’t holding it up, he held up my hand and literally showed me how to sword fight with the sticks. This went on for a few minutes, and he had a grand old time.
I assumed my lovely husband taught him this fun new game [that I am totally okay with, as long as it Julia or something breakable don’t get caught in the middle of a dueling match]. But when I asked him if he had, he said no! We racked our brains for where he might have learned this [Grandpa, perhaps?], and came up with the conclusion that he must have learned it from one of his favorite “toons,” Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
He’s seen every episode, multiple times. We don’t have cable and it’s one he watches on Netflix pretty regularly. They sword fight on there a lot. After all, Jake is a pirate fighting his arch nemesis, Captain Hook. How could he not? We were amazed that Mitchell was so intent on sword fighting, when he had only learned it from what he saw on television.
Which brings me to my soapbox. I have deliberately ensured, everyday, Mitchell has not watched on screen violence. Minus the cartoon sword fighting, apparently. I am not a reader. I like to read other blogs, but those are short. I’ve gone through bookworm periods in my life, but I am definitely not in one of them. I have, however, read every book written by Dave Grossman. They’re phenomenal and very eye opening about the realities of violence and how children developmentally come to understand it. In particular, his book Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, came to mind when I saw Mitchell learning things from television. Kids are sponges, and they’re learning everything they see. According to studies cited in his book, kids at Mitchell’s age [and older] cannot yet distinguish between “pretend” and “reality.” So, what they are watching on television or they see on video games may seem real to them. Should we really be letting our toddlers see a violent murder and let them think that it is normal? Better yet, should we be letting them watch a violent murder every Wednesday night at 9/8:00 central?
Don’t get me wrong, I am always up for a good episode of Law and Order: SVU. And I believe guns are a necessary tool and have 100% respect and appreciation for the military and law enforcement professionals. I can’t wait to take Mitchell and Julia to the shooting range when they are at an appropriate age and teach them a healthy respect for firearms, and hopefully share a family hobby with them for years to come. But why are we exposing our youth to violence and normalizing this at such a young age? I literally read a news article this afternoon of an unarmed man walking his dog in his neighborhood, gunned down and murdered by two boys – 14 and 15 years old. Why? Where do they learn this? Parents? Peers? Television? Video games? They certainly didn’t come up with it on their own.
I just want to shield Mitchell’s eyes from everything bad. All I can hear in my head is the bible song I sung hundreds of times in Sunday School growing up.
O be careful little eyes what you see,
O be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So, be careful little eyes what you see.
I usually don’t offer up unsolicited advice to people, because I am so far from perfect and there are many people much more qualified than I am to speak on parenting. [I religiously read the 71 Toes blog and love her perspective on deliberate mothering.] But this is one thing that is so simple, that I truly believe is so important for your littles. DVR that television show and watch it once they’re in bed! Don’t let them play those awful video games, please. Shield those precious little hearts from all the ugly as long as possible.
So long as it includes the occasional stick sword fight or nerf gun battle.