Sometimes what seems like a blessing can come back to kick you in the butt.
Butt, not ass, because that's not appropriate to say.
This is the talk I had with Syd this summer after watching a few episodes of George Lopez. Until this summer, the only shows we watched that didn't involve animation were the Nick shows geared to tweens.
In a way, George Lopez was a blessing. It gave us a chance to discuss words not to say. Different episodes gave us lessons in family dynamics unlike our own, diversity, racial stereotypes, and consequences. One episode even gave us the opportunity to discuss kidney reflux, a condition that I had surgery for as a child that we have continued to monitor Sydney for. Seeing it on TV gave her a chance to see a family other than our own discussing the seriousness of good kidney health.
But the thing that stuck most with Syd was "ass."
I don't even remember the context in which it was used. But as soon as we heard it, she giggled. I told her that's a word we don't say. It's inappropriate. Of course she asked what it was. I told her it's the same as "butt"...a word I'd have had an anxiety attack over saying myself 30 or so years ago.
Naturally, we cut Lopez and other shows from the lineup (like The Nanny, Malcolm in the Middle, and Everybody Hates Chris).
It seems like forever ago. We watched these shows briefly at the beginning of summer when it was fun to stay up late and sleep in the next day. Now, we're trying to get a good routine down for home schooling and those early summer Lopez days seem to have been part of the Jurassic period. Yeah, it seems like it was that long ago.
Apparently, once you've heard it, it's hard to shake "ass."
Last week we were sitting around. I was working on the laptop and she was playing a game on her DS. Then she chuckled. It was one of those quiet, very brief but deep chuckles...maybe even a chortle. It made me ask, "What's on your mind?"
"It's a shame that 'ass' is inappropriate," my 7 year old said. "It's just so much funnier than butt. Mama, why is 'ass' funnier than butt?"
I should have known not to ask.
But at some point in my life I have vowed not to be one of those parents who blows off a question. I want to answer them all.
So I tell her something about how maybe it's because it starts with a vowel and vowel sounds -- especially short ones -- are just naturally funnier than consonants. A is a vowel and B is a consonant. She said she totally understood.
It's fair to say that Syd and I have both learned a lot from this experience.
I have learned that TV just ain't what it used to be back when I could sit down with my parents and watch a show like Sanford and Son, M*A*S*H, or Happy Days without any of us being embarrassed or afraid of what word might be said next. I mean, even the Sweathogs -- at risk teens who had nothing but a quirky teacher and chips on their shoulders -- didn't talk the way these "family" shows do now.
I also learned that TV is only what you make it. It can rot your brain if you let it. It can be the best discussion starting ice breaker or teaching tool, too. But you can't park your kid in front of a TV and expect a genius to emerge. Your interaction (and supervision) is vital.
Syd learned that there are families who don't necessarily like each other. Some kids don't have parents they can depend on them to care for their needs. She also learned that it is never right to stereotype someone because of the color of their skin or their gender.
Oh, and she also learned that "ass" is a whole lot funnier than "butt."
That's one theory that's going to be hard to shake.