Here is my darkest confession: I don’t monitor how much TV my children watch. Yipes! I know, terrible, right? But listen, I bicker with my teenagers over chores, and grades, and bed time, and cell phone use. I insist on table manners, and firm hand shakes, and coughing into elbows. I point out rudeness, and disrespect, and negativity. I remind them to save their money, change their underwear, apologize with sincerity, and show gratitude. I praise honesty, a sense of humor, creativity, and clean hair. By the end of my day, I really don’t care if they are vegging out in front of Duck Dynasty as long as they are not smoking pot, injecting heroin, getting drunk, or cyber bullying!
My four-year-old has dialed into my slacker attitude when it comes to television. She pays equal attention to the shows and the commercials. She often informs me of shampoo that will make my hair shiny, detergent that will keep our clothes stain-free, and cereal that looks really yummy. Last night at the dinner table, she told us that there is a machine that makes homemade ice cream.
“You just put in the ingredients, and the machine blends it all up until it is ice cream. Can I have one of those?”
My strategy when one of my children asks for something is to formulate a vague response like, “That sounds sooooo interesting!” And then hope they forget about it in twenty-four hours. Frankly, with my four-year-old, this has been a successful approach, but in this instance it didn’t work. This morning Ella came into the kitchen crying. I have mentioned before that Ella is Scarlet O’Hara in pink footsie jammies. She has a flair for drama and prefers to play the role of damsel in distress.
“What’s the matter?” I asked, my tone full of sugar and love (It is important to stay calm here so as not to escalate Ella’s anguish.)
She sobbed into her hands. “You know that ice cream machine I REALLY wanted?”
“I can’t have one,” she bellowed, wiping snot across the back of her hand. “The man on the TV said you have to be eighteen years or older.”