A fret over my girl
I need to worry over Molly here, for a little bit.
So, as you know, I don't have a lot of principles regarding television. As in, I watch a lot of it (less now, because I'm SO TIRED all the time) and I've never been super restrictive about my kids watching TV. I like the IDEA of not watching TV, but that's never played out in our family. I can't remember exactly what it was like, but I'm pretty sure Jack watched a lot of TV when I was pregnant with Molly and when she was first born. As I mull this over I realize that there's been major TV escalation whenever something big was going on - a new baby, a move, a particularly rough week with grad school or business travel. In the rental house when I was pregnant with Emma and horribly (yet unknowingly!) anemic and required a two-hour nap every afternoon, my non-napper was watching PBSKids on the laptop. I'm not PROUD of it, but I don't feel that bad about it either. We get through the way we get through.
We've had an iPad for about a year now and lo, all Cheungs with verbal ability worship at the altar of the iPad. It's stocked with nine zillion toddler-friendly games and, of course, Netflix. So the iPad became another way to watch TV. It actually became a way for me to nap without having to get up to start another show, because Jack quickly learned how to find shows and start new ones all by himself. Questionable parenting? Perhaps. But nothing was more important to me than that afternoon nap, people. NOTHING.
So... I mostly feel okay about the TV watching. For whatever reason, my kids do not like watching movies. Perhaps this is because they've inherited their mother's gnat-like attention span. (And for the record, it's JACK who prefers 20 minute TV shows to long movies - who knows what Molly really thinks. She's basically a Jack Mini-Me.) So I don't have kids obsessed with Cars or Toy Story or any of that stuff, which is kind of nice. On the other hand, I have seen every episode of Busytown Mysteries at least twelve million times. But I feel like these little cartoons are sweet and half-educational and short and easy to stop and all that. They watch nice little preschooler shows and lately I've been MUCH better about limiting the TV to a certain time of day or for shorter amounts of time and all that. Probably because I am MUCH better at everything now that Emma is taking Actual Naps and only waking up once or twice at night. (THANK YOU, GOD.)
HOWEVER. Because I let them watch on the iPad, because I let them do it on their own, they've lately discovered two shows I don't like. One is the Power Rangers and the other is the Fresh Beat Band.
Okay, so I feel guilty that I haven't been on top of WHAT they're watching. I mean, they have access to Netflix, they could be watching Louis CK for all I know. But seriously, they always ALLLLWAYS pick Busytown, Fishtronaut, or Dora. ALWAYS. So I haven't thought twice about it.
But! Power Rangers! Jack is INTO the Power Rangers! And I'm just going to admit here that I know absolutely nothing about the Power Rangers. Perhaps it's totally fine for an almost five-year-old to watch the Power Rangers. I think I AM fine with it. But it's not a cartoon and it seems a little fighty and actiony and I wasn't sure if I was okay with MOLLY watching it (although, topic for another post: I usually make no distinction between their ages, SIGH.) I don't know. The jump from cutesy Busytown to heavily marketed Power Rangers seemed big to me. So after a week or so of being totally wishy washy about it, I finally said: No. We're not watching the Power Rangers. Because I am The Mom and I said so.
Honestly, though, the Fresh Beat Band freaks me out WAY more than the Power Rangers.
I mean, you guys have met Molly, right? This girl is super into clothes and shoes and the colors pink and purple and has decreed that only BOYS like blue and only GIRLS like pink and somehow she learned all the names of the Disney princesses and is obsessed with tutus and her princess dresses and this is overwhelming to me. On one hand, I almost encourage it. It's CRAZY FUN to buy dresses for your dress-enthused 3-year-old. On the other hand, I wonder where it all came from, I wonder what it means, I wonder if it's a phase, I wonder if she'll always be so clothes conscious, I wonder if Emma will be like that too, I wonder if I need to curtail it, I WONDER EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS GIRLY GIRL. Because I LOVE her and I love her girliness and I love that I get to be girly with her and I think she is ADORABLE. But it also WORRIES ME.
And the Fresh Beat Band is not helping. The Fresh Beat Band is this REALLLLLY dumb show where 4 twenty-somethings are bopping around and making kiddie music and having hijinks and getting into scrapes and all that. It's not offensive or worrisome or violent or whatever. But it DOES feature these two super cute girls in super cute outfits and Molly knows their names and talks about which one is her favorite (the pink one, obvs) and how she likes that girl best and THIS FREAKS ME OUT. It freaks me out because I don't remember having a crush on a TV personality until Clarissa Explains It All. (Which I only got to watch in the summers when we came back to the states and I got to watch TV at my grandma's house where there was cable.)
I WORSHIPED that long blond hair, you guys. I wanted to dress like her and BE her and while this wasn't particularly HARMFUL, I don't think, I was a MIDDLE SCHOOLER. I do not want my THREE-YEAR-OLD idolizing a Disney-fied (or is it Nick Jr-fied) twenty-something with impossible hair! OMG!
So I've laid down the law on that one too. No more Fresh Beat Band. Even though it's FOR little kids! I just can't. I can't! Is this overreacting? I just feel like Molly, Molly HERSELF, does not need more images of Pretty Girls in her life. She does not need to be MORE aware of hair and clothes and pinkness. I mean, I'm not going to throw out her Pinkalicious book and make her wear jeans every day, but I can control the media. I can control it right now, at least.
I guess, at this moment, as I'm typing, I'm feeling bad. Because I was letting them watch these shows for a while before I realized I didn't like them. And then they were confused. I don't, like, feel bad for saying NO (I AM THE MOM!) but I feel bad for confusing them, for being illogical, for not knowing ahead of time. (STORY OF MY LIFE, HERE.) I feel like I should have been on top of this ball. And then - is it even a ball to be on top of? The Power Rangers? THE FRESH BEAT BAND? These are the grounds on which I've decided to stand firm? REALLY?
I feel like... I WANT to protect Molly from that Wanting To Be A Certain Kind Of Girl for as long as possible. Jack and the Power Rangers... maybe that's just me being silly or overreacting or not wanting to realize he's nearly FIVE. But Molly and the girls in the Fresh Beat Band, that is something I KNOW. I recognize it. It eventually happens to most girls. Molly doesn't know what's going on, but I do, and I may get suckered into buying her frilly dress upon hot pink tutu, but I'll shield her from Hannah Montana-ization until the absolute last moment.