Monday, February 16, 2009 ;
8:57 PM
ds1 has recently been very interested in magical things, and somehow one day he was talking about inventing all kinds of goodies to eat, and I suddenly recalled my favourite book on that topic- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

So we borrowed that from the school library and have just finished reading it.

The book we borrowed doesn't have many pictures and ds1 still prefers books with lots of colourful pics. This book has a few sketches in black and white. So to get him sufficiently interested in reading it himself, I'll always start reading to him first and leave it at a cliffhanger part. Then I'll say I need to do something or my voice is getting hoarse, and I need a break.

He usually cannot stand it, and will continue reading on by himself.

I remember my mom doing that to me for Chinese books last time, because my Chinese reading ability was poor and I got lazy reading Chinese.

He still needs help with many words of course, and I tell him to skip those words. I gave him a few sentences as examples, that you can still get the overall meaning even if you skip a few words here and there. If he is really keen on a particular word, he'll shout out the spelling to me and I'll tell him what it means.

You know what? Dh and I both could not resist reading the whole book again ourselves too. Such is the writing of Roald Dahl. Timeless and forever entertaining.

I didn't recall such brilliance and wisdom in his poems last time when I read it as a child. But I came across a few poems (one for each of the naughty kids who got the Golden Ticket to visit his factory) and one struck a deep chord in me.

About TV-watching.

Now, Mr Dahl wrote this in 1964. At that time, colour TV was not even in vogue yet? How come what he writes still stand true now?

I thought it was only recently that kids started watching a lot of TV.

Anyway, here goes an excerpt of the poem (the actual one is 4 pages long):

Mike Teavee is Sent by Television

The most important thing we've learned
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, never, NEVER let
Them near your television set

Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.


Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink-

But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?

It rots the senses in the head!
It kills imagination dead!
It clogs and clutters up the mind!
It makes a child so dull and blind!

He can no longer understand
A fantasy, a fairyland!
His brain becomes as soft as cheese!
His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
He cannot think- he only sees!

Timeless truths! Just like the Bible. Especially Proverbs. Written so long ago but can be applied right now, in so many situations.

I find it really funny that this poem could relate to people in 1964 and now too.
These are the exact reasons I use the TV or DVD in the computer for.

I always say, I need to keep them still, need to make sure they are safe and not fighting or climbing when I am cooking! I mean, I still do think that without that, I couldn't have cooked properly in peace, especially in Utah. Because I had no one else in the house, no helper, and they are big and dangerous enough not to be restrained by a belted high chair, yet not old enough to understand what danger is.

However, I do realise that what we can do is limit the influence of TV. ie other than those instances, other TV-watching chances are minimised.

Now, however, it is so much easier to limit their TV watching. In fact, ever since we banished the TV set, they only watch 15min of DVD (Mon-Fri in the mornings to wake them up for school) and they have 15min of computer time per day.

Sometimes on holidays, we relax a bit and let them finish up DVDs like Toy Story and Mr Incredibles, their all-time favourites.

But I have to admit it is much easier when they are school-going, because that means for part of the day, they are out of the house, and that leaves me time to prepare the meals, such that when they are back, I can engage them.

It is also easier now that they are older (than when they were in Utah). They know not to fight too dangerously, and they know roughly what sort of climbing can have nasty consequences and what is safe. They can also play and read independently much better.

So if I look back, I might cut down on TV time for a tot, but not be able to ban it totally. However, perhaps, what they watch would be impt, like carefully chosen DVDs instead of free-to-air TV channels that broadcast undesirable commercials all the time.

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