Sick kid, Microcosmos, kids and media

Last night managed to ratchet up the stress level in our family. I woke up with a migraine around midnight, and Hazel developed an earache around that time too. She was up crying for a lot of the night. Luckily I had some migraine medication around and was able to get rid of the headache and go back to sleep with the aid of that and an ice pack, and got enough sleep, even though it was broken up, to feel more reasonable this morning.

We’ve gotten various great ideas from my brother and his family over the past few years. Their oldest kid is the first one of our kids’ generation who arrived in our family – now there are six cousins between my sister and brother and I. When I was pregnant with Hazel I got a lot of equipment ideas from his wife and him, and we have continued to have good conversations about parenting over the years.

One thing we share is a desire to keep our kids away from screens for a while. I’m not sure what the age is at which they plan to introduce TV, but we’ve decided on seven years old. We want our daughters to be old enough to have conversations about content and context of what they watch. And we want them to develop an attention span free of the influence of the TV shows and movies. We also believe that consumption of media tends to contribute to the acquisitiveness that seems so common nowadays, the attachment to stuff which is hawked 24/7 in every possible venue. I grew up without a TV at all (when I was a kid there was graphic nightly coverage of the Vietnam war, and that was one reason my parents decided to steer clear.) In fact, they didn’t get a TV until my brother gave them one perhaps a decade ago. They fairly rapidly replaced it with something better, and now they often watch movies in the evenings. I must admit that I found that development side-splittingly hilarious when it occurred.

But I digress.

Despite the almost total prohibition on TV, however, my niece is allowed to watch a particular movie, “Microcosmos”, when she is sick. Today, because Hazel had had such a bad night, she needed to have a restful day in which she could recuperate. I remember the hideous boredom I used to suffer when I was a kid sick in bed. I also remember the non-stop pleading and demands I aimed in my mom’s direction. Hazel doesn’t yet know how to read (she’s only 4.5 after all!) as a self-entertainment activity, and so Ted and I talked it over and decided to let her watch the movie. It’s about bugs, and has practically no narration. It’s actually quite beautiful, very dramatic. One of my favorite scenes shows a water spider collecting air bubbles that merge to create an air pocket below the surface in which it lives. There’s also, among many other things, incredible slowed down footage of rain drops striking and bouncing, knocking a lady bug off its blade of grass. Here’s a preview of original French movie (there is also an English version).

Ted took the babies out for a walk, and I put the movie on for Hazel, after which I went into my old studio upstairs and practiced for a while. Eventually Hazel came in and asked if I would watch with her, said it was a bit scary. I think probably for someone who’s not really ever seen a movie, the imagery and sound track is a whole lot of input. So, I took a break from Beethoven (Op. 9, Trio 3, Adagio con esspressione) and went to watch the world of bugs with my daughter. After about half the movie she said she was bored and wanted to do something else. I texted Ted, and we shared an electronic giggle that after all the build-up she got tired of the movie before it was done. Nonetheless, she did finish it later, and watch it again in chunks.

It’s a lovely piece of work with spectacular photography and beautiful accompanying music. I did some searching on the internet, but could find nothing else similar. We are going to re-watch “Winged Migration” (by one of the directors of “Microcosmos”) tonight to see if it would be suitable. If not, Hazel will be stuck with bugs as her sole cinematic entertainment for the next 2.25 years. There are worse things.

Putting the kids down for the night went quite smoothly this evening. Here’s hoping the night is better than last night, too.

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