Monday, January 2, 2012

Vegetables or TV in the Car

Well, we finally did it. We let the kids watch TV in the van. I know they would've been fine without it, but we did it.  Having intentionally purchased a vehicle without a DVD/TV, this involved hooking the I-Pad to the driver seat and running an audio cord through the car stereo. Not complicated, but I feel a little conflicted about it.

We're not crazy; I think a little TV every now and then is fine. Goodness knows I have no room for judgement here, considering I have been streaming "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" on Amazon Prime on the laptop while cooking dinner lately. During the school week, the kids watch absolutely nothing; we don't have time. On the weekends, they'll watch a show or two if Blaine and I are sleeping in on "late hockey" days.

I was proud we weathered the 12 hour ride to Atlanta without the video distraction this summer. But in planning our trip to Joplin, a 14 hour car ride each way (with 10 hour and 4 hour legs each way) is well, 14 hours plus stops- each way-so 28 hours total- which is more than an entire day. (That's a long time to be restricted in a 5-point harness in a car seat.) I'm making excuses- and we did it.  We did turn it off in between shows (often at the kid's request) to listen to Christmas songs, play "6 Things" or "I Spy," read books (they can read in the car without getting sick!), play action figures/babies, or draw. But we did it.

I want to be able to say something philosophical about it, but I think it just is what it is. I would never ring my hands if I slipped in a kid show for those jokers to watch on a sick day or to give me some cooking space on a hectic dinner night. I do wonder why I think it's so terrible to use it as something to do on a 28 hour plus car trip.

On the plus side, I did see my kids negotiate taking turns picking the show,  Fran being a caretaker and screen-tapper for his sister, the kids learning more of the words to the songs in "Free to Be You and Me," and the kids being good sports when we turned it off to do other things.

But I'm sad that every car trip now has the decision to make: "Do we watch or not?" Still, using a portable device means I can leave it in a bag and pull it out of a bag of tricks if the tricks are needed, like I do with food, stickers, or a new book.  Also, as Claudia gets older, she'll be able to sustain other travel games better, like magnetic checkers and travel Blokus and hopefully, she will share our love of Harry Potter so we can do audio books. We love HP audio books!

Maybe I'm really just upset that this morning when we loaded up the van to ride to brunch in Chelsea, Claudia asked if she could watch Olivia on the way.* We said no and explained that we only use the I-Pad for watching if it's a really long ride.

I don't know, it depends on who you ask, but some people do think Chelsea is pretty far.

Claude was playing babies and Fran was doing a sticker book while the video plays.
Phew, no one is staringslack-jawed at the screen.
But they are learning that "It's Alright to Cry," which clearly they already knew.

*This could be about Olivia- not just TV in the van-she loves that pig!


  1. Amy is adamant that we never buy a vehicle with the built in child-distraction devices. ADAMANT. We both grew up in a world where entertaining yourself in the backseat was the only option, so we're on the same page so far.

    Of course, if we keep buying your old cars, the point will be moot until you take the plunge...

  2. I felt the same way. But 28 hours is a long time.... And car seat travel is very restrictive and now kids use car seats until their 16th birthday. Blaine and I also considered that the Roderique children do not sleep in the car for more than 39 minutes- ever, even if they are absolutely exhausted, unless it is after 11 PM. Claude slept about 10 minutes on the way to Indy from Joplin, and fell asleep at State Street when returning to Ann Arbor.

    The 12 hour Atlanta trip did have about 90 minutes of crying/ whining from Claude (total- not each way- and in 10 minute increments) and that was not the case this time. The only crying jag traveling with Digital Media was when I took Creepy Baby away after Claude smacked Fran in the head with it, leaving a mark. He wasn't even asking for it. And the IPad was off then anyway.

    However, it's something to think about. If we'd let them watch a 30 minute show at home on occasion- what's so terrible about it in the car? Now watching a show on the way to Kroger? Heavens, no. On a 2 hour car ride? Silly. Not sure if 4 hours makes the cut or not. But I think 14 hours does.

    I am just wondering if this is something I should devote a lot of mental energy to. When I started talking to Blaine, he totally glazed over, rolled his eyes, and started playing Boggle on his I-phone so I think he is just as conflicted as me.

    I do think being able to entertain yourself is important; the kids do that well. No worries there. But I seriously think there must be some medical problem that they don't sleep in the car for more than 39 minutes. Never have, even as babies.