Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You Do Not Need a Bendaroo

Watching TV costs you money. And I’m not talking about cable or dish network or satellite or anything like that. We have a television in our house and no service except what comes free from the sky. With Kid # 1 and Kid #2 we were able to get by with the occasional video or DVD. Nothing on the regular stations (all three of them!) interested them. But Kid # 3 has been a different story. He plans his week around the two hours of uninterrupted screen time on Saturday morning. And this has cost me money.

This week it’s the bendaroos. His life will not be complete until he has this overpriced, over-hyped toy. He can tell you all the benefits and features, word for word from the commercials that were pounded in to his head this past Saturday morning. Before that it was the Alive Lion Cub or the Mega- Ship Shark Attack. There is always something that he finds lacking in his life by 11am on Saturday. And then I have to listen to the begging and bargaining all week. This week there were actual tears over the bendaroos. I happened in to a Toys R Us and checked them out for myself. It took awhile to locate this ubertoy which, apparently is only a must have for my son since the clerk had no idea what I was talking about (“benda-what??” “Roos, you know like a kangaroo, only bendy” Am I really having this conversation??). $20 bucks! That’s what they wanted for a box of wax covered pipecleaners. So I did what every sensible parent does these days, I went home and looked online. Still $20 bucks and the reviews were horrible. There were even directions on how to lodge a better business bureau complaint if you have already purchased this toy. Wow. And still he whines.

My point is that he would have never known about Bendaroos or Shark Attack or any of the other overpriced toys that he attempts to con his grandparents in to buying for him if he wasn’t watching television. So here’s my affordable organic tip for the day – turn off the tube. Find something for your kids to do that doesn’t involve a screen. And here’s an even bigger tip – let them be bored. The best ideas come when someone has time to be bored. Finally their brain is unencumbered by flying digital images and unending noise. There’s creativity to be had in silence. Kids will whine about being bored. They will complain. And that’s when you just say something like, “huh.” Be completely noncommittal because – and here’s the important thing to remember – their boredom is not your problem. It’s theirs and if they really own it they won’t stay bored for long. They will find some way to amuse themselves. Who knows, maybe they’ll open a book. Or pull out the markers. Or dig out that overpriced, over-hyped talking lion cub that they just had to have a few months ago.


  1. Love today's blog, Cara... I love the line "there's creativity to be had in silence". So true... mine are much happier after being out in the sun (or even the rain)!

  2. While I like the idea of having kids use their imaginations, I do not mind if they see the products being advertised on TV. There are many teaching points in life. Since the ads come on frequently, there are frequent teaching points about working for what you want, saving money, researching a product to see if it is worth buying, etc. When an ad comes on for a beautiful new car, I will often half joking half seriously call me kids over and in a whiny voice say "I want that I want that" and ask them to go get their banks and let me have their money so I can buy it.

    They laugh but they get the point. Even my 11 year old smiles while rolling her eyes. :)

  3. Yes, I agree. We should hide the kids from the real world so they are unprepared when they grow up.