There is a milestone in every child's life that is not mentioned in "What to Expect" books. There is no line for it in baby journals, and mothers don't compare notes as to when their children acheive it. But it is a critical one nonetheless.
Yes, I am talking about the day a child first pays attention to a television program. For the whole 15 minutes.
This is, as many milestones are, bittersweet. After all, it marks the passing of babyhood. However, for a busy mother, it is also a thing to be celebrated. Because even mothers who seriously limit television for their children can always use another tool in their kits. One that allows them to complete an important phone call. Or get dinner on the table during the "witching hour".
Tony reached this milestone today, while his brothers and sisters were outside jumping on the trampoline. Since this is something he can't participate in yet, he was stuck inside with me without a ready source of entertainment, as I was busy baking Christmas cookies. He had already unloaded the dishwasher, the roundabout cabinet and the plastic cups and bowls. He had banged the mortar and pestle until we were both practically deaf. He was not interested in snacks or his push car. He was simply underfoot, close to a hot oven, so I decided to give the TV a try, just to see if it could distract him long enough for me to finish the cookie batch I was working on. I put on "The Wonder Pets", and darned if it didn't do the trick. He was completely captivated for a full 15 minutes. I simultaneously rejoiced and felt totally guilty, as I rushed through and completed my baking.
Many of you mothers will understand me when I say "yipee" and "uh-oh" at the same time. Now I must resist the urge to turn to television too frequently when I need to get something done. It is no longer his lack of interest that keeps the TV beast tamed, it is my discipline, which is imperfect at best. But at the same time, I am relieved that there is something I can turn to in desperate times that can buy me the few minutes that I need. I cannot send him outside or to play a board game, as I can with my older children when I want them to turn off the television. He has to be in my sight, and sometimes I need him reliably occupied. Today, this is within my power.
So, happy milestone day, Tony. And good luck to this mom!