Touch of Spice

The magic of television

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I'm a little ashamed to say it, but television is a cornerstone in my life. That doesn't mean I don't carve out time to read, listen to music and, of course, play with my children.

What it does mean is that I understand and revel in television's redeeming qualities. Hey, it has educational stuff, too!

I will never condone the use of television as a full-time baby-sitter, but nothing beats it for a few minutes of free time. And by free time I mean time to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer without a kid racing to beat the laundry in, time to load the dishwasher without a kid sitting on the end throwing silverware out as fast as you put it in and time to take a shower without a kid pounding on the door with your toothbrush.

That kind of time.

In those cases, it's television to the rescue. But that decision comes with responsibility. I have to monitor what Katie watches because she picks up phrases, behaviors and mannerisms from everything she watches.

I learned that when she was singing along with the theme song to "Malcom in the Middle ."

"You're not the boss of me now, you're not the boss of me now, you're not the boss of me now and you're not so big."

Eeek!

OK, so it was pretty cute. Sort of like the first time you hear a child cuss. You have to hide your laughter so they don't think you endorse that sort of language.

That's kind of how I felt, torn between laughter and dismay.

Barney is perfect. She can repeat anything she hears or sees and she comes across as a genius or adorable -- often both.

"Monsters Inc." was her next infatuation (and the reason she now has her own television). I really enjoyed "Monsters Inc." the first time. I still liked it the fifth time. Thirty-seven times later, it was either get Katie her own television or check me into the loony bin.

Besides the dullness of repetition, I wasn't thrilled with Katie's memorization of the dialogue -- not that it's bad, she just felt that she had to scream every time someone screamed on the show. And since the whole movie is about collecting screams for energy ... well, you get the picture.

Now, it's "Scooby Doo." She had a major hissy fit when I pulled out Barney and replaced it with "Scooby Doo" (it was cousin Isiac's turn to pick the movie). Now, she asks for a Scooby snack nearly every day.

I plan to buy a bag of carrots, slip them into a box with Scooby Doo on the front and tell her they're Scooby snacks. It'll be a race with her babysitter, though, who is searching for real, sugar-filled and chocolate-covered Scooby Snacks.

The baby-sitter also has a movie fetish, so she caters to Katie's growing addiction. Luckily she pushes education over entertainment, too. Mostly.

I was getting Katie dressed the other day (against her will, mind you) when she spit out a vicious "I quit!" and glared at me.

"Your fired," I told her. And she dissolved into laughter.

I know "Office Space" isn't among the movies she's allowed to see, so I'm a little curious about where she got that.

Maybe it's a movie of her own making. We all know she has talents along those lines.

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