It’s 9:07 a.m. Dora is on to give me a few minutes while I try to make breakfast for everyone. I manage to clean out the dishwasher and fix my coffee before 9:22 a.m. when I hear “Mama. Mama! Glasses! Oops! Again! Oh no! Mama, mama, mama, hugs! Hugs! Green couch! Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama.”
By 9:23 a.m. I have two toddlers assaulting my legs, pulling on my hands, threatening to cry, needing attention, wanting to play. I give up my tasks and entertain them best I can for the next seven minutes. Since they were watching Dora and wanted to see more of the show, I spent much of that time explaining to them that they have to wait for the commercials.
However, by the time 9:30 rolls around, they’re immersed in the blocks we are playing with, and they protest when I get up to continue fixing breakfast. They assault my legs, pull on my hands, threaten to cry and demand more attention. I turn back from the kitchen where they have followed me and settle on the couch, attempting to get them interested in the television again.
It’s 9:37 when they finally become immersed in the show, and I sneak away again. I put the tea on the boil and the bread in the toaster. It’s now 9:41. Someone has gone on the potty! A break while we celebrate and take care of the aftermath. At 9:46, I’m back in the kitchen. I butter the toast. I take the fruit out of the fridge and pour the cereal. It’s 9:50. Someone else has gone on the potty! Another break, another celebration. By the time we’re done with that, it’s 9:53 a.m., and the commercials are on again.
Good luck trying to put milk in the cereal and care to the now screaming tea kettle.
“Mama, mama! Blocks! Mama! Look! Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama, mama.”
I sigh as I head back into the living room and distract them for seven more minutes. By now, thank goodness, it’s 10 a.m. and Sesame St. is on. By 10:06 a.m. the babies are finally getting into Sesame St., and I can usually put them off by telling them to watch it while I fix the tea, make my husband’s lunch, set the table, and eat.
I look up in amazement as I’m eating my breakfast. It’s been at least 8 minutes without interruption. Is that possible? It is possible. But only because the creators of Sesame St. got it right. That show is 57 minutes long.
What I’m trying to say is that 30 minutes of one uninterrupted show is worth more than 90 minutes of 22-minute shows. I’m trying to say that 22-minute shows are absolutely worthless.
When a mother sets her children in front of the television all morning, that’s not really the case at all. Four minutes of television at a time does not a bad mother make.
So, yes, my kids supposedly watch TV for two hours each morning. And, no, I don’t feel bad about it; I don’t feel like a careless mother. Because, really, in sum total, they’ve watched about 20 scattered minutes of Dora, and a blissful half hour of Sesame St. (Sesame St. remains on until 11, but I’m done with breakfast and able to better tend to them exclusively at that point.)
It is ridiculously hard to make a breakfast – that would normally only take 15 uninterrupted minutes – in spurts of three and four minutes. Tasks that should take no time at all can take hours. What I need is Dora to last an hour. If it did, my kids would spend less time “in front of the TV,” because they’d leave me alone long enough for me to actually do what I need to do, and I’d be able to return to them fully much more quickly.
Twenty-two minute shows are worthless.
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