Thursday, April 24, 2008

News for the Stroller Set?

Everyone knows that small children should never be allowed to watch television news programs, but I haven’t thought much about the effect my public radio addiction might have on Maya.

Until recently, I don’t think the news stories that serenade us at breakfast and lunch, in the car, and occasionally while I fold laundry have had an impact on Maya.

A couple of months ago, Maya started asking about the news. Her periodic question, “what’s that lady talk’n ‘bout, mama?” gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce her to Hilary and Obama and the concept of president (see my post on Power Tripping if you missed that little nugget).

Lately she’s been able to pick out words in the discussion, any discussion, and ask more specific questions.

At the dinner table, she often interrupts us with the indignant, “Hey, are you guys talk’n ‘bout me…. Don’t DO that!” We now have to use words like "ambulate" if we want to talk about going to the park without getting her too excited.

When the news is on, though, she’ll snatch up any random, recognizable word, giving me the opportunity connect her with the broader world.

This morning Maya picked up on a story about doctors taking cooking classes in order to give patients better tools to eat healthy,

“Medicine? Why did they say that word, Mama?” she asked.

Hmm. What does an almost-three-year-old need to know about this? I told her that the doctors on the news were helping people eat good food so they wouldn’t need the medicine.

Of course, Maya just lapped up the last of her bubble gum flavored penicillin last night, and she can’t imagine what could be better than medicine. “Medicine is good food,” she countered.

Meanwhile the story continued in the background. They were making some kind of salmon with a black bean salad. It sounded great to me, but it’s not bubble gum flavored. Instead, I got her to focus on her cereal. She’s big on this Kashi Oat Flakes & Wild Blueberry cereal, so we looked at all the different cereal bits and talked about how healthy they were making her.

Incidentally, we had run out of the cereal last week, while she was sick. “Mama, I’m goin’ to eat this ALL the TIME, so let’s get more at the store.”

There. I connected her little news question to her own life. Also, she didn't ask me to turn the news off for the rest of her breakfast, meaning I have found a way to appease the little dictator.

Now I have to pay attention, and actually turn the radio off when the really disturbing stories come on. I’d like to spare her from the fact that her friends Hilary and Obama (she always follows their names with the statement “they’re very nice”) are in a battle to see how many racists and/or sexists they can inflame against each other.

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