Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On a Bear

It was potty-training that finally broke the dam.

For the longest time, we more-or-less avoided having the TV on when Mihret was around. Kara and I are not really huge TV-watchers as it is, but we’ve been even more conscious of turning it on since the little one entered our home.

Our original plan was to avoid TV until Mihret was around two, then introduce it gradually – but we didn’t even feel compelled to do it then.

But along came potty training.

We’ve gone back and forth on the best way to accomplish training, having talked to friends and heard wildly different stories about their experiences, which ranged from “pretty much figured it out on their own,” to, “forced them to do it over the course of a couple of days.”

Not really wanting to go the forcing route, we’ve been taking our time and trying to be encouraging in the potty arena. For a while, it seemed like we were headed in the right direction, and then… Mihret kind of lost interest.

My mom thinks we missed a window, but I’m not really sure about that. Not long ago, Kara and I picked up an article on potty training that contained 10 things that indicate a kid is ready to potty-train, and Mihret had three indications, if you really, really stretched it.

So we didn’t worry about it.

My mother did, helpfully, provide us with a couple of “potty readiness” videos, one of which is The Bear in the Big Blue House: When You’ve Got to Go.

On the whim, one day, I stuck it in the DVD player and sat down to watch it with the little one. And she was totally enraptured.

I thought the video was all right, and there are bits that amuse me, but mostly I was just glad that she enjoyed it enough to ask for it again. Not wanting to watch it a second time, I looked around for something else that was short, and put it in.

And we were sorta-kinda off.

I have to say that TV kind of scares me. Mihret is a runner and a player, but I’ve seen the glazed “Bring me entertainment!” look that comes from watching videos for too long. At her best, she gets bored after 30 minutes and wants to run around. At her worst, she kicks and fights when you turn off the TV.

Which I do not really view as A Good Thing.

What makes it hard to turn it off, though, is the fact that suddenly pottying has become a LOT more important to her. She wants to go more often. She’s talking about wearing “underwears.” She’s even been seeking out the underpants her Nona got her.

However, she has not yet become good at telling us when she needs to go, whenever she needs to go.

We’re watching the video almost once a day now, and I’ve drawn the line at putting it in a second time during the day. We’ve also watched a couple of movies while putting in her braids, and taking them out, and I’m even willing to let her watch her Amharic educational video fairly often.

But I have seen the face of TV, and I have to say that it makes me nervous.

I also have to admit that watching the same Bear video over and over again has caused me to pick up on some things. Like, the bear is left-handed, and almost never moves his right arm. I realize this is because the puppeteer is using his right hand to operate the bear’s head, but really… it’s a little freaky, once you notice it.

Also, the Big Blue House looks really bad on the outside. Its right and left halves don’t line up very well at all, like they hired a model-maker who did a really shoddy job and then refused to fix it. It’s unfortunate.


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