The verdict’s out. At least according to Tenderoni: “We can buy new furniture and paint the walls, but our daughter won’t notice as long as we don’t touch the telly.”
It is around 10 am on a Saturday. Pudd’ng is sprawled on the living room floor, watching cartoons. I pass in front of baby girl, who weaves and bobs her head, sometimes between my legs so she will not miss action on the small screen. I plug in the iron, but she does not notice. Ditto when I iron my pair of gray formal trousers that has been gathering mould. Ditto when we buy new furniture…
Entitlement is not Pudd’ng’s middle name. Which is a good thing. She asks for permission before switching on the tube. It is a given that she will seek me out, wherever I am, cutting Tenderoni dead, even if she is nearby. Mealtimes when Pudd’ng says grace, she turns off the box. But when she is watching a captivating cartoon, which is always, she will act like one of the characters. She will “rap” the grace, you would think God answers the prayer with, “Rewind!”
Paying attention and fees are two sides of the same parenting coin. Baby girl knows that when checking her homework, I will turn off the TV, phone, or whatever. Last night, she was reciting Bible verses while I was in Rhythm City, my favourite series. She kept butting in, reading aloud to me.
“Dah-dee? And this?” she pointed, eyeballing the small screen, which I had not switched off for her recitals. Zap.
I missed David Genaro’s diatribe, but I got me a divine lesson in “tele-etiquette”.
THE BORED AND THE BEAUTIFUL
With several stations showing cartoons, Pudd’ng hogs the TV. Most of the programmes are on repeat-dial, but Pudd’ng does not seem to mind this. When Tenderoni and I are bored stiff, griping that Startimes is robbing us blind, our beautiful baby sits through the repeats. Enjoying every minute. For the millionth minute. Move over, Job’s patience; there is a new patient in Uz.
Pudd’ng has crammed the cartoon characters, dialogues, and plots on all the channels. To boost the laptops project, I propose that the syllabus be done with cartoon characters.
Speaking of laptops, the other day Pudd’ng was saying that she wants to attend public school.
In most urban homes, the TV’s remote is the comptroller. Our smart daughter has figured this out and likes hiding it under the cushions so we do not change channels. This usually happens when she has been asked to do a chore and suspects that it is a setup.
It is pouring outside. Pudd’ng is watching TV as I type the late afternoon away. I stretch my legs and mind in the living room, and find her slouched on the sofa. On checking, I find her napping, which rarely happens.
I carry her to our bed, noticing nothing untoward. While tucking her in, her sleepy voice gives away the cake. “Dah-dee? Please take this remote control.”
It is githeri weekend in our house. Tenderoni has given Pudd’ng the job of removing chaff from the maize. I find it strange that she has given Pudd’ng this chore in the living room. Baby girl is seated on the floor with the TV on Nickelodeon, showing cartoons and she has a saucer of snacks on one side.
From the time I looked at Pudd’ng, she has picked at “chaff” without looking, because her eyes are on the idiot box while her mouth is working. The chaff she has picked and put in the waste basket is good white soft maize; the kind that makes my githeri any day. Eventually, Tenderoni does the chore herself. I do not blame the inundated child. A little girl can only do so much multitasking.
NOW SHE SEES, THEN SHE DIDN'T
Tracks and T-shirts are my indoors attire. I cannot remember the last time I wore formal trousers.
This Saturday, for a change, I decide to wear a pair of gray trousers I had not worn in a long time. It is around 1pm. Pudd’ng is having her lunch where she cannot watch the TV: On the kitchen table. After ironing, I change clothes and sit in the living room with our daughter, but her mind was on you-know-what. In fact, I have mingled with her so many times, I am taken aback when she asks:
“Dah-dee? Kwani which trouser is this you’re wearing today? And when did you change? Where are you going?”
Our daughter’s three grasshoppers passed away due to thorax-related complications, bravely borne. The tasty trio will be dearly missed by my palate… sorry, Pudd’ng.