Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Too Much Crime for a Four-Year-Old? Our Family's Dilemma...

When I was a fresh new mother, I was highly discriminating when it came to television and my precious little boy and girl. The options available for their little eyes were limited to Veggie Tales, Rescue Heroes, and Buzz Lightyear. Only begrudgingly did we eventually allow GI Joe and the ill-fated Hannah Montana as Cole and Meg grew older.

Then, Kate and Molly entered the picture and the years passed and now in our home we've a wide age range of TV viewers. There are the expected squabbles over what to watch when you have a sports-obsessed 14 year-old boy seated on the same couch as a girly fashion-conscious 8 year-old girl.

We have found a few shows that appeal to our entire family. Many of our favorites are reruns of shows my Man and I enjoyed as kids. We love it when we find The Cosby Show as we troll the channels. Everyone agrees, everyone watches, everyone laughs.

My own favorite shows have almost always involved some sort of mystery. I grew up on Remington Steele, Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock. My kids are taking after my interest in mystery and crime shows and I love watching with them.

One snowy winter Friday over the Christmas break we came upon a marathon of one of my favorite all time shows, Monk. The kids and I spent hour after hour on the couch that day just soaking up the mystery and the mayhem and the murder.

Murder? Um yea. I made the little girls hide their eyes when the dead bodies appeared on the screen...so I can still be in the running for Mother of the Year...right?

It turns out that every Friday there is a Monk marathon.  Molly has learned all the words to the show's theme song, and it is a battle to keep attentions focused on history and science when everybody would rather be seated in front of the TV on what is lovingly referred to these days as Monk Day.

Truth: Molly and Kate have been watching another crime drama for the past year.

NCIS, the #1 show in the nation, or so the advertisers say, is the show that gathers our gang on a weekly basis. Tuesday evenings find us all on the couch tuning in to see what Gibbs and Abby and Tony and Ziva and McGee and Ducky have in store for our viewing pleasure.

We insist that they turn their heads when, the expected corpse is seen in close up. The same holds true in the autopsy scenes. We do have standards...but oh how they have changed since Cole and Meg were four years old! I'd like to think that our priorities have changed a bit. Instead of thinking that our standards have fallen, could it be that we are willing to give a bit on TV choices for the sake of an hour together on the couch? Perhaps trading appropriate content for affectionate cuddles?

Is the trade off worth it? Most of the time I think so, however there are times I wonder.

There are comments scattered throughout our every days that tend more to crime than to coloring. Molly speaks often of the "talking room" where Gibbs, the head of the NCIS team talks to the "bad guys". One day her feet came running to tell me of her latest discovery, "MOM!! I KNOW what the talking room is called now...it's the INTERROGATION ROOM." Just what every four-year-old needs to know right?

There was the day that Molly, seeing a sheriff's vehicle parked along a busy street in our neighborhood said, "I wonder if they're going to bring out a dead body soon."

{Oh how I hope she is not discussing these topics with her Sunday School teachers!}

Another time, Molly from her perch on the potty of the Christian book store, noticed the knots in the wood of the bathroom door. "Look at those bullet holes Mom!"

I really began to get concerned that my girl was going to be thinking that there were killers around every corner. But then, Megan was looking for Molly around the house recently and finally found her lying on her bed, eyes closed but obviously not sleeping. When asked why Molly didn't answer Meg's calls for her, Molly answered, "I am supposed to be dead in this scene." I determined that she obviously understood that the shows were pretend (ignoring the earlier stated evidence to the contrary).

So, conscience relatively clear, we continue to watch our family show, full of dead bodies, killers, crooks, and cops (in which right almost always wins and where lying never pays, and where loyalty to one's team is lauded...) and we spend time on the couch building case files memories and a tying a common thread on which to hang in years to come. One day, perhaps, my kids may find themselves telling their little ones when to cover their eyes while they watch reruns of NCIS...who knows?

 By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American education.... From television, the child will have learned how to pick a lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long, get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of sophisticated armaments.   ~John F. Kennedy

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