Saturday, July 29, 2006

22 Months

My little boy is easily influenced as he pushes himself toward growing and learning and consuming (as are we all). He will be guided by the world around him and it will have an effect on his human nature. What I am writing at the moment is heavily influenced by conversations I've recently had with Xtina and by a movie (which is a little ironic considering the content) that I watched last night, which brings me to what I want to talk about.

One of the things that he is becoming more and more interested in is the teevee. A couple of weeks ago we had a difficult time putting him into bed for the night, but when we finally accomplished the task we were relieved because in the living room, waiting and beckoning, was a fresh episode of Deadwood. So, after about twenty minutes into our historical fiction of blood, money and yes, influence, a little man with eyes that struggled to open as they were exposed to artificial light shuffles out of the gloom. In our heightened state of devouring the fictional lives of those characters of misfortune we didn't notice our precious one before us until he realized what we were doing. He quickly plopped himself between us on the sofa and settled into viewing mode (thankfully he doesn't know the word popcorn yet).

Now, I'm fairly open-minded about limiting the restrictions we place upon Lucas' impressionable mind but one of the things we don't want him to become obsessed about is that damn black yawning mouth of entertainment that waits to be filled with dancing visions and dreams that always run on perfectly allotted time, and he sure as hell wasn't going to be watching Deadwood (seeing as how impressionable he is). So, for the next hour we were bludgeon by the horrible cries of a child deprived. In that hour we must have put him into bed five or six times before he even thought about closing his eyes again. He couldn't understand why he wasn't allowed to watch teevee with us. Our eager anticipation of consumption had spread to his small frame and then we denied him. It was quite traumatic.

We turn the teevee on quite a bit but not nearly as much as many of our neighbors. We don't have cable or satellite or even something as primitive as an antennae but we do like good film. It's an art form that still catches our conscious. Lucas is beginning to understand that about us and has suddenly started to demand that we turn the infernal device on more and more. What I'm mostly worried about is that our rejection that night has fueled the curiosity fire in his belly. I firmly believe that the things that are denied us affect us greatly. Why shouldn't I be allowed to indulge myself? Who has the right to tell me no? I suppose it's a natural function of our growth, which is why it works so well in advertising.

These are the aspects of our society that I wish would have the least amount of influence upon him but it's already seeping in at the seams. We don't have that many DVDs lying around to pop in when he says, “On!” excitedly, while pointing at the lifeless sucking void. All that we have currently is a Baby Genius collection, which incorporate classical music with natural visions of the animals, the ocean, fields of flowers and anything else majestic that can be captured in the world around us. This wouldn't be so bad except for the annoying animation they dump on top of everything. The animated aspect of the DVD is simply the Baby Genius' way of reminding you that you are watching their product. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING REMINDED THAT I AM CONSUMING WHAT YOU WISH FOR ME TO CONSUME! I don't want to know. I simply want my child to watch something artistic that might help him tap into his creativity. That's the only reason I turn the damn thing on!

Which brings me back to how and why we are so susceptible to certain agendas. Noam Chomsky reminded me exactly why I've always felt a revulsion to obvious forms of influential media, fashion and commercial accessories but it goes much deeper than we always think it does. I personally still have enormous mountains to climb when it comes to overcoming the way I've been influenced, but we have so much fortune because we have the ability to guide the influence that will be imparted upon our son. No matter how much we fail, the next generation will become more advanced than us. It could become more advanced in science or more developed in thought and speech. It might become more advanced in the way that it influences those around them either physically or psychologically. The advancement may happen in the arts and culture or in the socio-economic atmosphere. It may come in the advancement of compassion and sustainability or the development of the destructive forces that exist upon this earth. But it will come. They will learn everything that we know and then move forward with that knowledge and influence and begin to create in some form or another.

What do I want my child to create? How can I help him achieve it? How do I influence him? These are the questions that parents need to ask themselves when they try to imagine what the future will hold for them and their families. For starters I'm throwing out those damn DVDs and getting something that encourages him to tap into his creativity rather than something that taps into his hunger to consume.

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