And A Fire-Breathing Dragon

9 Jan

I often talk about parenting as being a humongous puzzle. You are continually moving pieces around, flipping them onto different edges, often shoving them into spaces that they aren’t meant to be in, and always looking for the missing pieces. And at the end of the day, you’re always just puzzled. (HA! Dad jokes for days!)

One of the most debated parenting strategies in the ever changing puzzle that we face today surrounds electronic usage. When do you allow it, how much do you allow, what do you allow them to watch? Every parent struggles and debates on what stance to take on this and the Mrs and I are no different.
As many parents do, we started using an electronic device (her phone) just to keep Nolan occupied when he was feeling especially ornery in a restaurant or when – let’s just be real – we simply needed a break. He took to the movies on YouTube pretty quickly and we could always find a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or other acceptable similar episode to keep him quiet and happy for ~30 minutes. After a while this evolved into Nolan doing his own web surfing on YouTube which can be unnerving. Our feelings were and still are that he deserves some leash and trust as long as he shows he deserves. I can only recall twice when we have asked him to watch something different, or have just changed the video he randomly browsed to. He is 3-1/2 remember; he looks at the thumbnail previews for toys he knows from movies he loves. He doesn’t venture much outside those lines. I am confident of this because I review his viewing history often and I can quote a lot of the lines from the videos he watches over and over and over and over and over… and over… and over again.

This past weekend we were hanging around in our bedroom constructing our most recent IKEA expense, and Nolan was quietly and contently browsing his recent favorite topic: toy reviews. The kid will watch someone unwrap and talk about a toy for HOURS if we would let him. It is crazy! If you haven’t ever seen one of these, here is one that I hear Nolan watching all of the time (don’t watch all 10 minutes, or even 2 minutes): Lots of DinoTrux Toys!
It has even gotten to the point where when he plays with his own toys he talks in the same tone and inflection as these reviewers…. Hey, if you ever questioned the impressionability of a kid. Josie and I continue to be amazed by what Nolan has – and I don’t use this term lightly here – learned thru these videos. Skills he has picked up vary from songs to how to work a certain toy to just how toys could possibly interact.

Suddenly Nolan bolts upright on our bed, his attention torn away from his current YouTube video.
“Dad, Dad… Dad. Dad. Daaaaaad!”
“Yes Bubba?” – I had tried responding after the first Dad but he insists on at least 5 times saying anything regardless of your acknowledgement or not.

“I wanna make a video. Can we make a video?”

Absolutely, kid! The next half hour epitomized the reason that you become a parent. Watching him just naturally talk about his favorite toys, to himself, on his little tablet made my heart swell. The look of pride on his face as he talked about the features of each toy was unmistakable and deserved. He totally rocked it. He gets so excited that his words garble together and at times become nothing short of jibberish – sorry bud, but you come by that honestly.
And instead of me trying to put in words how amazing my kid is, you can just watch it for yourself. My absolute favorite part starts at ~ 1:30. I can assure you, I no longer have any regrets over allowing Nolan to use electronic devices. Watching his imagination explode and his creative side expand is worth far more than whatever harm someone may argue is being done. And a fire-breathing dragon.

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