Plunking your kid in front of the TV won’t make her a genius.
File this under I can’t believe this is news but an article published on Yahoo Shine today claims that the revelation that the Baby Einstein videos are nothing more than, “a mind numbing way to occupy infants”, is apparently, “rocking the parent world.”
All I can say is…really? The idea that TV isn’t good for kids under two is “rocking” the parenting world?
I don’t have children of my own which in some necks of the woods qualifies me for nothing but withering looks when I issue an opinion on child rearing, but I do have multiple degrees in education and once upon a time I used to work for the largest toy retailer in the city of Boston. The Baby Einstein videos were on a constant loop on a small beat up TV in the infant’s department. Being within ten feet of them while I scraped gum off the floor, scooped candy into tiny cellophane bags or gift wrapped a $300 mohair teddy bear as a present for a toddler who would undoubtably gnaw the ear off of it was enough to give me, a grown woman, a migraine. People, have you ever seen these videos? They’re like bad acid flashbacks. Seriously, my mind hasn’t been bent so severely since the light show at that Phish concert I got dragged to back in college. Baby Einstein videos aren’t educational, in fact I’d argue that they have more potential to damage a kid’s attention span than make them smarter. They’re the equivalent of video catnip. In short, they are a shitty, stupid and ridiculous product that just happens to have a marketing scheme that plays into the vanity, insecurity and laziness of modern parents. My kid can have a head start over all the other kids and all I have to do is plop him in front of these videos!
As a sales associate I would constantly try to steer potential gift givers away from the Baby Einstein videos,”How about a monogrammed baby blanket? A set of handmade wooden blocks? A hardcover heirloom-quality edition of Make Way for Ducklings?”
Like an evil parent from a Roald Dahl novel the parent would reply,”Oh he already has enough books, let’s get him some videos.” Enough books? I grew up in a family where one could never have enough books. The idea that a parent would choose a video that was obviously garbage over a book was mind-boggling to me. Who are you? The Wormwoods?
“A child can’t have too many books!” I’d opine cheerfully. The Beacon Hill mom would dismiss me with a wave of a perfectly manicured hand decked with a diamond that was probably worth more than the house I grew up in and say in a tone that barely masked her contempt that a complete philistine who wore a name-tag and a polo shirt to work would dare to give her parenting advice, “The Baby Einstein videos were designed to be educational. It’s brain science. I’ll take two.”
Time and again people would ask me my opinion on the Baby Einstein videos and I’d tell them I didn’t think they were developmentally sound. Time and again people would tell me I was wrong, just because the packaging and the advertising told them it would make their kid smarter. Never mind that anybody with two eyes can look at the videos and see they are junk. Never mind that the parental wisdom that children under two shouldn’t be watching TV has been around forever. Why are we so quick to trust what advertising and packaging tell us are true instead of our own guts? Are we that insecure with our own judgement? Are parents that lazy?
I’m laughing to myself today thinking about all those condescending bitches who used to send their drivers around to the store to fill the family Cadillac Escalade with birthday gifts for their toddlers (I saw a lot of that, it was downtown Boston before the stock market crash) instructing their maids to purge all the Baby Einstein merch from the nursery. “Get that garbage out of here, I read on the internet that it isn’t educational! Now Blake Jr. will never get into Harvard! “
Ha fucking ha, bitch.
It warrants a mention that parents have been looking for a way to occupy small children since the beginning of time. And no, women in the work force or feminism is not to blame for this particular form (or I’d argue, any form) of crap parenting. Yes, parents of both genders are busier than ever so an excuse to plop your kids in front of the TV while you fix dinner is more seductive as it ever has been. But let’s be straight here people, my grandmother and her mother and just about every other mother who went before them were stay at home moms. Did they spend their days playing mentally stimulating, developmentally appropriate educational games with their kids? Hell no, they smoked, played bridge and got their hair done while the kids ran around and played outside. And out of those generations of children, plenty of them still were top in their class, got into ivy league schools and landed good jobs, no cracked out kiddie videos required.
Know what is developmentally appropriate? Building a fort with the couch cushions, coloring with those big fat crayons and playing in the sandbox. In fact, I’d argue that almost anything is more appropriate for toddlers than watching Baby Einstein videos. But how would I know? I’m not a parent, I’m just a person with common sense.
Sometimes I’m not so sure I want to have children, but articles like this make me want to breed just to make sure that another generation of children will grow up knowing what it is like to play in the mud, put on their own puppet shows and live with a life that’s not over-scheduled and inundated with pre-packaged crap before they’re even old enough to tie their own shoes.