Um, more mommyblogging

So apparently at school yesterday some girl told Eila, “I don’t like you,” and when Eila asked, by way of clarification, “do you still want to be my friend?” the girl said, “no.” I realize this kind of thing happens all the time, and even Eila took it more or less in stride. I was also somewhat heartened when the context came out: the girl was disturbed that Eila didn’t participate in a game of Barbies, but instead watched.

Still, I’m wondering if hanging around with me hasn’t made her too kooky for her peer group. I mean, she and I are always–like always, all the time, every spare minute–playing pretend with dolls and stuffies, which raises in me a feeling akin to boredom, which I assuage by getting all goofy, such that the princess in my fantasy might say something like “hark, hearest thou that distant sound?” and the prince might reply, “yes indeedy do!” Thus do I render her unfit to play Barbies at school, and impose my childhood pariah status on the next generation. And, no, I’m not necessarily proud of it.

The boredom of motherhood was a big topic a few years ago. I haven’t read anything about it lately, but the general line remains true. One finds one’s kids more delightful than anything else, but perhaps not endlessly delightful; or, in other words, they are life’s single greatest pleasure, and jaw-droppingly awesome and all that, but they’re also awfully wearing. I remember around a year ago I dropped Eila off at her California Montessori school on a Monday morning, turned to my student driver, threw my hands in the air, and yelled, “free!” I felt a bit guilty when I noticed the school director listening, but not too guilty.

One of the ways I get myself a little down-time on the weekends is to ask Eila to watch TV. Sometimes this amounts to begging her to watch TV, since she would always rather play pretend. I’m fairly sure her cavalier attitude to the box results from the fact that I’ve never much restricted her TV time. She knows it’s there, and that she can watch if she wants. So she doesn’t.

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5 thoughts on “Um, more mommyblogging

  1. Here’s my thought as a former babysitter and long time adorer both of Eila and of your parenting style. Eila’s sense of play is going to be both more unique and better developed than her peers. Her peers will either accept her ideas into their play or she will develop a new group of peers who are just fascinated with where she comes up with such things. She will have friends; they just won’t always necessarily be within the same age group.

    I think her cavalier attitude toward the box stems from the fact that not only have you not generally restricted her T.V. watching time, but you’ve also never used it as a babysitter or a replacement for interaction with adults. Her development was characterized by interacting with people in fun, imaginative ways. Therefore, she interacts with people in fun and imaginative ways. I think I remember to before you even had a VCR in Claremont — she didn’t watch TV because there wasn’t much to watch. She interacted with us.

    Maybe she only likes to watch the TV when she’s tired of interaction and just wants some “Eila” time. :-)

  2. The great thing is, they do get more interesting. And, they also just get busier. And, they become less interested in us. One of my triplets (seven years old) woke up this morning at 6:00 am when I did. We cuddled on the couch, read a story, and then she looked at me and said, “Mommy, I’m bored. I am the only kid who’s up. I am going back to bed.” And she did.

  3. Thanks Julia, that’s heartening! Eila has demanded attention every single minute since she was born, but I know it has to stop some time. I’m counting on her learning to read soon.

    But Miriam I *do* use the TV to babysit. As far as I’m concerned, that’s its raison d’etre. For what’s the alternative? Watching it? I may let Dragontales into my house, but I’m certainly not going to sanction it by looking at it. Anyway the thing is, especially in California, where we’re on our own, I sometimes need a shower. (But of course it’s true that I’ve always known how to turn it off. And now Eila knows better than I do.)

  4. I think we have different points of reference to the idea of using TV as a babysitter. You use tv to babysit for *short periods of time.* But you always placed more value and emphasis on spending real time with her. I remember your first semester in Claremont; you guys barely touched the VCR, let alone having a substantial collection of movies. I watched the pile grow during my Junior year, but it never got unwieldy.

    Compare this to my little sister who is a few months younger than Eila (I think). She’s a Disney Princess and she certainly has the DVD collection to match it. For my entire college experience, every time I called home she was watching something on TV — it didn’t matter how many people were at home. It was easier to place her in front of the TV than to involve her in whatever needed to get done.

    While I love my sister, I would rather babysit Eila any day. My sister wants me to entertain her because that’s what she’s used to from the TV whereas in my experience Eila entertains as much as she is entertained. If Eila can’t socialize with her brain-drained peers, I say more power to her. Then again, I’m biased against MY peers based on their combined intellectual output.

  5. I see. The situation with your sister doesn’t sound too good. But all is not lost. Lots of people start their lives immersed in the worst kind of culture and grow up resenting it, and forming their own kinds of resistance. Meanwhile you don’t want to play the heavy or you’ll lose all your influence.

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