No screen time before two years old.
<insert incredulous guffaw>
This is one of those ambitious and rash edicts one makes while one’s child is in-utero. It is best practice, will ensure your child’s synapses meld creatively and freely and will therefore maximise their chances of educational, fiscal and romantic success. Other such edicts include a determination to only provide your child with non-specific, neutral toys such as lumps of free-trade Plasticine or wooden blocks sourced from sustainable wicker forests (to be clear the Elefun Busy Ball Popper does not fall into this category); thus cultivating their fresh, nimble pre-frontal cortexes (corti? cortices?), and, no chocolate muffins, ever.
But when it comes down to it the only edict you actually follow is ‘whatever it takes’.
Take Baby Einstein for example. Baby Einstein is weird. The Baby Einstein videos, of which I presume there are hundreds, are discombobulated, non-sensical, full-frontal cerebral assaults devoid of plot, pattern, substance or meaning. They are a tall glass of neat red cordial injected directly into your child’s hypothalamus. But they are mesmerising. Regardless Milo’s mood, disposition or activity at the time, if you load up a Baby Einstein video of any kind he will immediately stop blinking, lower his chin a little and gaze without emotion at the screen for as long as the video is running. He looks like Raymond Shaw in the Manchurian Candidate who has been triggered and is awaiting instructions, or to reference a more contemporary and perhaps more accessible example; Derek Zoolander in the film Zoolander when the song ‘Relax’ is played.
Raymond Shaw, Derek Zoolander or Milo?
Here is an example of Baby Einstein:
If Milo is eating, the food will leak silently out of the corner of his mouth, if he is shaking his maraca the maraca will thud softly to the ground, if he is attacking the cats Huckleberry will be immediately released and will scamper to safety. It is a powerful and immediate sedative. And we use it.
To be fair to us our deployment of this potentially immoral and likely highly addictive weapon has been sparing so far; long drives when he is getting antsy, stretching him 15 minutes to avoid a catastrophic sleep pattern failure, distracting from mum’s departure to work, the final minutes of a stage in the Tour de France, Wednesday afternoons.
This morning I found a highly effective use for this ‘parenting tool’. Of late Milo has become increasingly cranky and despondent when Kuepps leaves for work, it distracts him entirely and he whimpers until enough time passes that he figures he should get on with his day. This morning Kuepps left as I was feeding Milo his Weetbix. Recovering from his several days of lurgy Milo was hungry and certainly needed a good breakfast. However, Kuepps’ departure flung him into such a state of dismay that he refused to eat and wanted only to be taken out of his high chair and, well, he hadn’t thought that far ahead. So, a quick squeeze of the old Baby Einstein magic tube and Milo’s tears evaporated. His mouth then began to habitually open and shut as I moved food in its direction, and the sub-conscious process of swallowing and digesting took over. In this way Milo ate a large bowl of Weetbix as well as most of a pouch of delicious fruit puree. It is likely he doesn’t remember a single mouthful. The pistons in his jaw only stopped working once I switched off the video. No screen time before two indeed.
Milo was up at 0600 so it took all of my energy and creativity to keep him awake until 0830, this included watching two New Holland Honeyeaters who had stumbled into our garden to eat Bottlebrush nectar for a good 15 minutes while Milo maniacally bashed on the window.
Milo then truncated his sleep so we were ready to dive into the day before 1000. Brimming with new pram confidence we loaded up and went for a complicated walk for almost an hour in which Milo behaved impeccably.
Lunch was an enthusiastic affair (no Baby Einstein required) of Bolognese, chicken and peas which he now pincers up one by one off his tray and pops them into his mouth with great delight.
After another shorter than usual nap we headed out again to Bunnings to buy assorted man stuff at which time Milo kipped a little (which got us through to a reasonable bedtime) and then arrived home shortly before Kuepps return. Today’s Milo greeting was particularly enthusiastic with loud growls and giggles accompanied by arm waving and toothy smiles.
Oh, also Milo potentially said ‘dada’ tonight within a context that might suggest he thinks either I, or a photo of me, might be ‘dada’. This will be monitored closely.
- Percentage of sensory garden project completed – 30%
- Total minutes in pram – 100
- Total minutes of Baby Einstein – 10
- Total nap minutes for me – 0