What’s On TV? Oh, Just a Big Fracture

Friday, September 9, 2011

“There’s no hope,” the man said. “I wish I had better news for you.” He re-zipped his bag of instruments and shook his head.

It was the TV repair man, and he was there, ostensibly, to give the last rites to our 3-week-old plasma television. Sadly, the slim machine was no match for a toddler, or moreover, for a toddler’s random aim.

After a really good day, my son and I were hanging out in the living room an evening this week. It was close to getreadyforbed time, so we were winding down. He was playing with a few loose train tracks, some wood shapes and his little, blue tank engine Thomas. I turned on the television — something I don’t typically do when The Youngster and I are getting are chill on. I wanted to check on the weather, see if the rain would be sticking around this week. We’re hosting our first party in CT — a BBQ — and rain is definitely on the Not a Good Thing list.

To say now that I saw it happening before it did brings no one any kind of comfort.

He tossed the blue train in the air above him.

I told him that was a no-no. But before the full warning could leave my lips, he threw it again. This time it beelined to the center of the flat-screen a few feet away from him.

A soft crack. A tiny flare of light. And it was over.

Look at that thing. It would be pretty … if it weren’t so horrible.

I did my best to stay calm so that I could explain, in a clear voice, why he was being sent to his room.

“The TV’s broken,” he said, looking sad about it. Sad for the television, it seemed. “Come on,” he said, urging the thing to shake it off and power on as I pressed various buttons.

He went to his room, staying in there for just under a minute.

“Can I come out now?” he asked, when I opened the door again to get him. He showed me this tiny heart that belonged to his toy robot, clearly trying to change the subject. And I told him, again calmly, that he did something he shouldn’t have, that it’s not OK to misbehave, and that listening to Mommy is always the best option.

We went on about our evening: brushing his teeth, using the potty and filling the tub with warm water for his bath. As I removed his sock, he told me he wanted to give me a big kiss.

It was so clear at that moment: although this kid knew that he did a not-good thing, he’s nowhere close to grasping what a consequence is. He’s 2.5! He’s doing what toddlers do. And another thing? It’s a television. Just a television.

“Lucky me!” I said, happily, and opened my arms and self up for this love coming my way. We kissed and hugged and rubbed noses. I needed him to know that I wasn’t angry, that he wasn’t in the doghouse. On the contrary, he was getting ready to splash and sing in the bath, then go his room to read about Curious George and Old Bear, and be told, simply: Goodnight, honey. I love you. See you when you wake up tomorrow.

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