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Changing Focus From The TV Set

I always thought it was so wonderful, the simplicity of Shel Silverstein's poetry. I have such fond memories of sitting on my bed reading the tales with the windows open, warm breeze making the white gauze curtains dance. My mom and I would flip through the pages of Where the Sidewalk Ends and when we landed on a page we would read it together. It is such a sweet simple memory where time slowed down and my mom and I just enjoyed the molasses of ample time on a summer day.

Today's activities seem so rushed and packed with full of fun, fun, fun, that at the end of a day zooming from play date to play date there is just no time to... take a breath. Children love to have fun but they need a break, a lot of breaks actually, to rejuvenate and reflect after an activity. It is this idea of in breath and out breath that creates a healthy rhythm for children (and adults too). Both here, in our little Jacksonville Beach pre-school and Ponte Vedra pre-school, and at home.

At the end of a busy day, I am guilty of just throwing on the TV (gasp!) so I can get the house back in order, whip up a frantic dinner, or have a moment to myself. I forgive myself for those moments and try to be sure that they are few and far between. I remind myself that watching television is NOT an in breath to let a child relax and chill out. It is not an out breath that allows children to release built up energy either. It is a cop out... I know it and know better.

So I changed focused this passed week after a busy summer camp day. My son and I plopped down on the couch and instead of grabbing the remote, I picked up ol' Shel Silverstein. Our salty bodies sticking to the couch and the sweet smell of an afternoon thunderstorm on the horizon. I flipped to a poem that just fit the moment perfectly. I took a much needed in breath and breathing in the warm smell of my son's hair, I read:

Jimmy Jet and His TV Set:

I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet-

And you know what I tell you is true.

He loved to watch his TV set

Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night

Till he grew pale and lean,

From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"

And all the shows between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,

And his bottom grew into his chair.

And his chin turned into a tuning dial,

And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,

And his face to a TV screen.

And two knobs saying "vert." and "horiz."

Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail

So we plugged in little Jim.

And now instead of him watching TV

We all sit around and watch him.

-Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Warmly, Miss Laura Cruz

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