Both girls have had runny noses for about a week now; but no other symptoms. Today, however, Bella has been very very cranky and at times her crying has been hysterical and inconsolable. We had a nice warm day so I took her outside after breakfast; but she insisted that I go with her. And when I did after Sophie went down for her morning nap, after playing with Bella for more than an hour when I tried to come back in as Sophie was getting up from her nap, Bella began crying so hard she couldn’t calm down to speak, even though she was desperate to communicate with me.
She didn’t seem tired and she never naps so early, she didn’t seem hungry. The only thing I could think of was letting her sit down to watch a music video that would calm and distract her. I’ve got a cache of favorite videos saved in You Tube just for that purpose. Of course, the downside to You Tube is that videos are short and I’m constantly having to go hit play again—Bella hasn’t yet figured that out. Fortunately today I figured out how to put together a playlist. There were still some glitches as my laptop put up a screen saver and one of the videos was no longer available; but it was much much better than having to restart it every few minutes.
Dom has been writing recently (here and here) about how we don’t generally let the girls watch television. This is partly a principled stand because I don’t think sitting in front of a screen is very good for the development of children’s imaginations and attention span, and their ability to self-entertain. I don’t think television is evil; but neither do I think it necessary for wee ones. (Of course maybe I’m just lucky that Bella has a quiet disposition and can entertain herself so readily.) I don’t quibble with other parents who decide to allow their children to watch some shows on a limited basis; every family must do what works best for them. But it is also a decision I made after seeing how other parents’ attempts to limit screen time—either television or computer—seemed to lead to many conflicts and confrontations. Even children who have had very clear boundaries set like one hour a day or one day a week still seem to get caught up in the wheedling for more and their parents seem to be constantly fighting to enforce those limits. It’s just a battle I prefer to avoid altogether.
I do make exceptions, however, when Bella is sick or on long car trips at night when she gets cranky because she can’t distract herself by looking out the window. I have found that after every time I have made such an exception I have to fight the battle anew for several weeks, refusing again and again until she forgets about the video. Once that period is past, she seldom asks and it ceases to be an issue.
Anyway, I loaded the You Tube playlist with some of my favorite classical and folk music: Yo-Yo Ma and Rosrtopovich playing Bach, the Corries’ Loch Lomond and Skye Boat song, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, Greensleeves, The Lakes of Ponchartrain, and others. So I figure that this sick day entertainment also counts as a music appreciation day. I especially like that many of these videos show the musicians playing their instruments. I like Bella to make the connection between the sounds she hears and the instruments that make them. I certainly expect that if I keep this music education up in the long term that Bella will never be one of those teens who think classical music is boring.