On the fence

This summer, for the first time, we agreed to put our 3 year old in the Montessori daycamp for two separate weeks, one in July, and one in August. This will be his first time to be away at school for full days, as opposed to half-days only part of the week. From 8 am to 4 pm, every day for a week.

I think we will have a very tired boy on our hands.

A while ago we received the schedule for the Montessori summer camp. For the most part, the prevalant theme is all about being outdoors: splash pad, play ground, sprinkler day, picnics.

Once a week however they planned an outing. One of those outings is to the movies.

Benjamin has never been to the movies. He rarely watches movies at home, although he has his share of DVDs and VHS. He likes the cartoons on Treehouse, mostly placid shows like Little Bear, the Backyardigans, Superpets. He also likes Mighty Machines, and Max and Ruby. Or that new show, perfect for evenings before bed, called In the Nightgarden.

But movies? At the movie theater? Apparently they’ll take them there on a schoolbus. Which in itself is great, as he has recently experienced a trip on a schoolbus to U of T downtown to see a play. He will certainly enjoy the trip to the Cineplex….but what will happen once at the movie theater?

Ben isn’t much into violence or scary situations. Even on Treehouse, there may be an occasional scary moment when he might stand up from the couch and stand near the tv button, ready to turn it off should the scary situation become unbearable.

Kung Fu Panda, a PG-13 rated animated movie, is supposed to be suitable for preschoolers and older children who can sit through a 90-minute movie.


Frankly, I’ve been on the fence about whether I will send him or not. Firstly, because Kung Fu, which as far as I understand it, is not supposed to be about violence. I’ve seen some clips, and my impression is that it is quite violent. My guess is that most children would certainly interpret it that way. 

Then, there is talk about the panda bear’s enemies. Enemies? Ben knows what friends are. He has never heard of enemies. Do children have enemies?

One site I came across describes the movie as this:

Violence/scary situations: An evil snow leopard, with glowing eyes, escapes from a dark, spooky prison. Lots of martial-arts mayhem, including a number of nasty fights. An elderly character, whose time has come, disappears into a swirl of peach blossoms.

Here’s what bugs me: Evil? Escape from prison? Nasty fights?

I don’t know.

But still, I’m on the fence. Some days, I lean toward sending him because I know there will be extra staff on hand to take kids out should they be scared/bored/have to pee and what not. And because he likes the schoolbus. And because he’ll enjoy the experience as a whole and will not necessarily even understand the whole concept of the movies. And because some of the other mothers, whom I’ve spoken with and whose children, mostly older, are the same as Ben when it comes to tv shows, have similar concerns but may still send their kids.

Other days, I lean toward not sending him to prevent the whole ordeal of debating whether he’s ready or not for such a thing. I mean, if there’s a debate, then he’s not ready, right?

But then again, he has options, and he knows he has options. Friends to sit with, popcorn to snack on, caregivers to approach when he needs to…

Like I said, I’m still on the fence.


TV and songbirds

Once the children were born I started paying more attention to what is on tv, what is appropriate, what is not (commercials, for one thing), and whether it would be necessary to arrange for specific restrictions and limitations with a rigid schedule.

Well, I’m not a scheduler. I don’t schedule anything really. Not even the preschooler’s tv time.

There have been times when I cringed at the amount of tv he was watching, whether it was Treehouse (a children’s television program without commercials), PBS or TVO, videos or dvds, or sometimes even the Weather Network (which may have been on for our benefit rather than his what with all the flippin’ snow we had this winter). But I forgive myself now, because at the time I was either 8 months pregnant in the middle of winter during basement renovations with hubby starting a new job at the same time. Or I was recuperating from a c-section while…well, see above. So he watched tv.

But it has come to my attention last night that my 3yo is not attached to the tv at all. At least not in the way some kids we know are. And I’m quite happy about this.

Here is what happened.

Benjamin was watching “In the Nightgarden” on Treehouse just after 7 pm. I was outside on the back porch just puttering around, putting things away, when suddenly, I stopped in mid-activity. Songbirds!

It was still light out, and the trees haven’t even opened their buds yet, but the birds were singing out there like it was full-fledged spring! Beautiful!

So I went inside and asked Ben if he wanted to go outside and listen to the songbirds with me.

How those eyes lit up! He glanced at the tv, and I suggested that he could watch the end of the show if he wanted to, but he said “no, let’s go listen to the birds”. So we did.

We brought a blanket, and snuggled on a comfy chair, and observed the evening sky. There was an almost full moon shining in the pale blue sky, birds flying overhead, birds singing amongst various trees in our neighbourhood, and airplanes making their occasional appearance. And Ben, being an active 3yo, was comfy and happy sitting on his mommy’s lap. There was no regret whatsoever that he may be missing a tv show.

How refreshing is that?


Is Oprah the new educator?

Does anyone still own a library card? And use it? 

It has come to my attention that many, many people watch Oprah during prime time. Or even tape the show to watch later. Although I rarely do myself, I have watched parts of some of her talk show, and she definitely has a talent. She has the gift of the gab.

She has a huge following, in the US and Canada, that I can see. It’s almost like she’s a cult leader, and I mean this in the nicest way.

Having said that, I came across more and more prevalant remarks made by people around me. They remark how guest speakers of the Oprah show educate them in various topics, from health to food to decorating. So every once in a while, I tune it.

For example, this Dr. Oz was talking about avocados and testicles on yesterday’s show. Or there is this cute decorator guys, Nate. He has some nifty ideas about style in the home. Then there was, in the past, Dr. Phil, who now has his own show. Plus she does shows on normal, everyday people doing extraordinary things.

I don’t know why I’m recounting this, most people watch her show. And maybe I’m missing something  by not tuning in regularly.

But I have say at the same time that some of her educating themes and topics, no matter how current and valid, can be “learned” by books too. In fact, books, rather than commercial-interrupted talk shows, have the ability to go into more detail. They present views that are left open for your own interpretation, rather than have it glossed over and supplemented by the media.

Which is not to say that Oprah shouldn’t have her show. Or her following.

I’m simply wondering out loud if people still read books on topics that she covers.