Children’s activity books should only ever be handled by a responsible adult, who can dole out each activity in measured doses according to their own time, energy and creativity restraints.
Most certainly, such books should never ever fall into the hands of, say, a seven year-old boy who can peruse their contents at will and start getting notions in his head that some of the activities might be “cool” and even “possible”.
Yes, long gone are the days when Mr Justice could only look at the pictures and I could pretend we didn’t have all the things necessary to do it or that the activity was far less exciting than the picture looked and in fact involved eating lots and lots of brussel sprouts.
Now he reads the book and Knows All. And knowledge, as we all know, can be a dangerous thing.
And so it came to pass that one wet Public Holiday, Mr Justice picked up my “150 TV-Free Activities For Kids!” book and declared the day to be TV-Free. Of course, there was a small part of me that was just a little bit proud, even if the post-throat infection and extremely tired me was thoroughly dismayed. But as a responsible parent, how could I insist that the day very much needed to include television? (And yes, I am a responsible parent. No, really).
You may be wondering how such a book came to sit on my bookshelf in the first place, alongside such classics as “Whalesong For Child Birth” (an emergency c-section put an end to that particular fantasy. Apparently, obstetric surgeons don’t feel empowered by whalesong while they operate. Go figure!) and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” (the reading of which involved many tears – all mine, when I realised that my child was unlikely to sleep through before he was 18 using the book’s methods).
Well, in answer to your question: I bought the TV-free Activity book when Mr Justice was only three, and The Pixie had just started walking. It was a time in my life when a TV-Free Day seemed not only achievable but desirable. Yes, it was a time before I accepted the television as my Lord and Master and as my only chance to get something (anything!) done without a fully-trained and equipped demolition team standing right by ready to undo the whole damn lot the minute I finished.
Anyway, I guess you’re wanting me to cut to the chase and say whether we made it through the day “TV-Free”.
We did. And it wasn’t too hard. In fact, it was quite easy – all because I did one thing. I sacrificed the house to the Gods of Destruction and surrendered myself entirely to a day of intricate planing for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic the size of Jordan and Peter Andre’s wedding in our loungeroom. Stuffed guests were chosen, invitations were made and issued, menus were drawn up and decorated, cakes were baked, food was lovingly prepared – ALL according to the letter of that goddamn book. Except for one thing, that is. Nobody would let me sing “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” song (as the book cheerfully suggested). Which was disappointing because I know both the words and the tune and had vague plans to record the whole thing and sell it on ebay as music for women to give birth to. You know, to recoup some of my losses for the day.