TV and computers are like cough medicine: they do a great job keeping your kids quiet, you just don't want other people, especially their teachers, to know how much you give them. You don't want to undo all the hard work you've put into maintaining the facade of a conscientious parent.
You would never want their teachers to find out that, for example, you once pulled up old Sesame Street clips on YouTube and then left them unsupervised while you made a phone call.
Naturally, a five minute phone call turned into a15-minute phone call and a snack. (There were only three cookies left and I didn't want to share -- scratch that, I didn't want them to have too much sugar before dinner.)
When I came back Sesame Street had been point-and-clicked to Family Guy. Oops, not the most appropriate thing for a five-year-old to watch. I'll have to be more diligent in the future.
... And maybe do some damage control. All that week I kept the radio tuned to NPR. I think I heard somewhere (probably during pledge week) that the sound of Nina Totenberg's voice helps grow brain cells in lab rats.
My strategy seemed to work. We were driving to the store (the organic produce co-op, because undersized, ugly fruit is good for growing bodies) and I heard a small voice from the back seat ask, "can we listen to the news?"
Sweeeeeeet! His teacher is going to think I'm the best parent ever. Rock on!
Lost in my reverie, I wasn't paying attention to the radio.
"Dad, what's a bordello?"
"A bordello. They just said it on the radio. They said back in the old days, like when you were still alive, there were lots of bordellos. What's that?"
OK, think quick. He's a little young for the concept that -- if you are discreet and use protection -- you can pay someone to have sex with you. (Mental note: tell Mom it's time for her to start "the talk.")
"A bordello is a kind of bar where men and women dance and gamble. It's usually very loud and there's lots of vulgar language." I was thinking of bawdy cathouses you see in old cowboy movies.
"What's vulgar mean?"
Whew. Here's my chance to steer the discussion away from prostitution. Heck, I think I can even turn this into a teaching moment about the importance of speaking politely to people.
"Vulgar means rude words that hurt people's feelings."
"Oh... you mean like that time on the computer when Ernie said, 'What the fuck, Bert!?'"