Friday, April 19, 2013

On being a news junkie...with a toddler

So my mother-in-law texted this morning at about 6:30 telling us to turn on the news. My response: No!

I didn't say no because we were asleep or anything (Ha! J woke at 4:30 this morning trying to be up for the day). No, I refused because I had been following the news on my smartphone and I didn't want J to see any bad images.

It has been a hard week living in the greater Boston area. When the bombings went off on Monday, I didn't write anything because I said everything I would have wanted to say after Newtown (except of course that I really shouldn't have to write that kind of thing twice in 4 months).

But it's been exceptionally hard having a two year old in the house and trying to follow the news. When I get back to teaching next week, I'm sure everything will be discussed, and I want to be as informed as possible. At the same time, my son doesn't need to see the terribly graphic images from Monday and from today's manhunt.

Even harder than keeping him from seeing the images on TV, has been me following the news while maintaining a straight face. Scratch that. Maintaining a happy/silly face. J is observant. He asks tons of questions. And of course, he is at that phase of toddlerhood where his favorite word is "Why?"

So my house has turned into a spelling bee of sorts with my wife and I spelling the "bad" words and my son chiming in asking about the letters he recognized from our spelling ("How many have d-i-e-d?" "3, with 180 i-n-j-u-r-e-d." "What is d-e-j?"). My smartphone has been feeding my addiction with live blogs, tweets, and Facebook keeping me informed. I used to be the guy who, during these types of major events, would leave the tv news on for hours, switching back and forth, commenting on the commentary, and generally exhibiting obsessive behaviors. Now I'm trying to do that with my smartphone, while still having the wherewithal to drive toy trucks around the living room.

When is the right time for a kid to be exposed to this kind of news? This kind of thing isn't going to stop, and I think being well-informed is the best way to get through these things. I don't want my son to be oblivious when he gets older, but I also don't want to scar him too early either. There's a balance somewhere, and I guess the job of a father is to find it.

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