I was reading a post yesterday by Potty Mummy, who has just introduced her boys to the joys of Scooby Doo. My reply was that while I loved Scooby Doo as a child, my children have never actually watched it, because I have no idea what channel it would be shown on here.
This is partly because I find the enormous number of channels available in the US baffling. I watch about three of them - the main networks - and while we are changing our cable package next week to a different provider, this is solely because this one supplies BBC America (new Doctor Who here we come...). The rest are largely unexplored territory; occasionally I make a foray into Comedy Central, but that's about it.
But there is another reason actually; despite the huge array of choice in kids' programming out here, the Littleboys are only ever tuned to one channel - Nick Jr., of Dora the Explorer and Diego fame - or else, DVDs.
The reason for this is not that I am a massive devotee of Nick Jr (although some of the shows are quite sweet and reasonably educational). It is mainly because it does not show advertising. But it's also because I am censoring their television consumption in a hardline Chinese manner. I know, you see, that if they discover where the other channels are 'kept', they will want to watch them......
Littleboy 1, for instance, is vaguely aware that there are cartoon channels. On the odd occasion where I've tuned to the wrong channel by mistake, he's immediately spotted the contraband older kids' cartoons and wanted to watch them. He knows about Spongebob - he's watched it on various occasions in hotels - but so far, doesn't know that there is a channel on our TV where it can be watched. I'm sure as he gets older - probably when he starts school in September - he will swiftly work this out, and tune into the dreaded Squarepants (whose humour I definitely think is too sophisticated for preschoolers) but if I can delay that moment, I will.
I've never been one for banning TV entirely - to be honest, it is the ONLY thing that even vaguely calms them down and enables me to get on with anything else in the house (which of course involves important household matters, and not, er, blogging). In the UK, Cbeebies frequently saved my life when I was trying to work from home (again, it was the ony channel allowed) and here, they are allowed to watch TV as and when they want to, as long as it isn't for too long at a stretch.
But censor it I will. Perhaps inspired by my Mum, (who never allowed us to watch what she called "American rubbish"), the boys will live in a little world where there is only one channel for a little while longer. (No doubt in ten years time they'll be lying on some shrink's couch saying: 'My mum lied to me about Spongebob'..........)
And when the guy comes on Monday to install our new TV package, all I'm going to say to him is this; make sure BBC America works, and I'll be happy.