Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Eating My Words with Sponge Bob

Before Aaron was born I was terribly careful not to be one of those women who goes around like the sanctimonious mommy police passing judgement on every little thing and swearing that I’ll never let my child do A, B or C. In fact I purposefully didn’t make outrageous claims about what I would and would not do. I’ve seen too many parents eat their words, and I didn’t want a belly full of, “I told you so.”

I only had two must-not, will-not, never-in-your-life things on my list. Two seems pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Are two never-ever, set me on fire if I succumb parenting principles, too much?

1). I’ll never use the TV as a babysitter.

2). I’ll never allow my child to sleep in my bed.

I know, you’re already laughing.

I held firm for almost two years about TV. Sure there were times we’d turn it on in the background and secretly pray it would catch his attention, but we didn’t actually turn on Noggin, put a chair in front of the big black box and tap the screen in a moment of exhausted exasperation until just before his second birthday.

I still remember the moment. Something happened to his brain. He transformed from this incredibly active toddler into a statue. His eyes glazed over and he didn’t move for ten minutes. My husband and I fell into each other’s arms and wept. We’d found the key to sanity. OK, so it wasn’t that dramatic, but we did have this epiphany that allowing children to watch TV must be how other couples end up with baby number two. 

Still, we were diligent about what we did allow Aaron to watch. Noggin and that was it. We didn’t deviate, we didn’t discuss, we just never turned the channel. No commercials to help create the gimme, gimme, attitude. No violence or confusing adult themes. My husband and I adjusted our parenting compass and we could justify the electronic babysitter as “Preschool on TV.”

Aaron has grown bored with Blue’s Clues. At four-years-old he’s ready for more definitive brain rotting and being the kind of parents who want to make sure we provide appropriate stimulation, a few months ago we began allowing Disney, but only early in the morning. Again, we adjusted our parenting compass and justified the electronic babysitter. The Little Einsteins play Beethoven. 

Recently all hell has broke loose. Somehow Aaron’s discovered Sponge Bob. He loves this stupid yellow character. He’s enthralled with the antics of an undersea community of potty-mouthed, disrespectful urchins. I on the other hand despise Sponge Bob. It’s one of those shows I’ve kept hidden, passing it by with the remote control faster than a speed freak in the Indy 500.

A few nights ago Aaron was on the verge of a preschooler break down. My husband, Kim, and I were both not feeling well and everyone needed a time out. As we’re trying to clear the dinner table, start the dishes and keep Aaron and the dogs from chewing on each other, Kim says quietly, “Sponge Bob comes on at 7:30.” I looked at the clock and saw there we were only three minutes from broadcast. “Hey Aaron,” I said. “Sponge Bob is on TV tonight. Do you want to watch?”

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how my husband broke the ”No child in our Bed” rule. 

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8 comments to Eating My Words with Sponge Bob

  • Let me share my favorite parenting trick of my husband’s. When our kids were little RugRats was the cartoon du jour. The kids were allowed to watch one episode, at 7, and then it was time for bath, books, and bed. Hubby taped several episodes–we could start the bedtime routine at 5:00 if it had been one of those days. It was genius!

  • Amy

    HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!
    I am rolling around on the floor laughing!

  • Oh my. I used to break the rule by letting my little guy into bed with me to watch TV because I was so tired and could keep him nearby at that point.

  • Get this-my kids weren’t going to eat sugar. Yeah, I know, hysterical.

  • Shiela

    SpongeBob rocks. I used to detest him – I have come to adore him. He lets me get work done, make the occasional business call done and all three of us can laugh together with him (most of the episodes anyway – some of them I won’t let them watch ;) We love the campfire episode, and the “Campfire Song” catchy and not at all bad for kids!

  • SpongeBob is one of the stapes in our house. The audlts hate that Zach and Cody show on Disney channel, though so we usually vacate the room as soon as possible as quickly as possible! And the TV becomes the babysitter at that point.

    My one rule was that no one under 13 would drink mountin dew or enery-drinks. It still holds!

  • Tricia

    Jenn: This is a brilliant idea and since Aaron can’t tell time, I may be able to flub with his internal clock for several years. Please tell your husband that I think he’s a genius.

    Amy: All that laughter…I told you not to drink the kid’s kool aid after you spiked it.

    Grandy: This is fantastic, but then I’d have to watch Sponge Bob, too. Ohhh the sacrifices we make in the name of parenting.

    Mrs. G: I snorted my coffee when I read this.

    Shiela: I’m trying to feel the love…trying to appreciate the mind-numbing attributes of a sponge in pants, and my son’s complete adoration of him, but I must, I must, I must improve my lust.

    WickedStepMom: You’ll find NO Mountain Dew in this household. It’s a Pepsi product. My husband is a 25-year veteran of the Coca-Cola Company. If however, anyone in the family wants to increase their energy with Coke products, please don’t say NO…we must do our part to help the stock value rise again. College depends on it. Pepsi is bad, bad, bad. Everyone repeat after me… No Pepsi products allowed. Drink Coke, lots and lots and lots and lots of Coke.

  • I’m nearly 30 and I love Spongebob. The characters are a blast, the animation is great and it’s full of little easter eggs for older viewers. It’s the only kids’ programming that I don’t find mind numbing. Just keep him away from ‘Lazy Town!’ Our friends’ kids are addicted to that show and it’s the most bizarre program I’ve seen.

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