Kathy Petersen’s Blog

I gotta do something about this

Posted in children by Kathy on December 9, 2008

I know it’s probably normal, but I don’t remember it happening with any of the kids I’ve baby-sat, nor with my nieces and nephews.

My son is just now four years old, and has recently taken to acting out everything he sees while watching videos. I’m pretty particular about what he watches, but I’m going to have to change my criteria, I think. When watching the Dr. Seuss video “The Sneetches”, for example, at one point the Sneetches are going around in a figure 8 pattern going in and out of two different machines (getting stars on and off of their bellies — just go find the YouTube video, or better yet, read the book), and at that point, my son gets up and starts running around in circles for the whole scene. Yesterday, he and my younger son were watching Charlie Brown Christmas while I was in the kitchen, and all of a sudden my younger son started crying like he’d been hurt. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and watched Charlie Brown Christmas, but I know it’s pretty innocuous, and may even have a good moral to it (and I do know that Linus quotes from the Bible, telling the story of the birth of Christ, which makes it even better), but I’m going to have to contemplate whether I should let the kids watch it again because of what happened. Knowing how my son had been acting out whatever he saw on the screen (previously, he was Tigger “bouncing” Pooh [my poor younger son who is not stuffed with fluff, and who does hurt when he is all of a sudden thrown off balance and banged onto the floor]; or Rabbit climbing on top of Eeyore’s shoulders [also played by my much-maligned younger son, against his very vocal wishes]), I asked him what happened, and he said something about “cracking” my younger son on the head. I can only assume that Lucy whacks Linus or something on the head for being a “blockhead”.

Previously, I never had a problem with them watching things that I might have watched when I was younger, like Charlie Brown, or Bugs Bunny or anything like that. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m scared that he might see Granny’s bulldog grab Sylvester the cat [of course it would be my younger son!] by the throat, and punch him in the face! It’s funny to see Sylvester knocked out of his fur, but would most definitely not be funny to have Seth get a full-fledged smack in the face!

I’ve kinda always poked fun (in my own mind, of course, never out loud) at those people who object to cartoon violence, and would not let their children watch good ol’ Bugs Bunny and what-not. I still don’t think those things are bad in and of themselves. But to protect my younger son, until my older son has more impulse control, or until he realizes that he simply cannot act out everything he sees on the screen, or until he realizes that his brother actually gets hurt when he is hit, kicked, pushed down, slapped, smacked, or otherwise manhandled, I think I’m going to have to join the anti-cartoon violence people. But for different reasons, I think. If I understand correctly, they usually object to it because they think it produces more violent children, and they think that if they can just protect their little perfect angels from ever seeing violence, that they will never be violent. That’s bull, of course — kids don’t have to be taught to be bad — they have to be taught to be good! I don’t have a philosophical reason for keeping my kids from seeing Bugs Bunny — it’s purely practical — I want my younger son not to be a punching bag!

I can only imagine what would happen if I let my kids watch The Three Stooges! Seth would probably be blind from Keith poking him in the eyes, saying, “Why, you…!” Yikes.

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