Monday, September 24, 2007

The Perils of Television

HH just woke up crying. It’s not quite the middle of the night but its still dark outside and he was up very late last night. We attended a party at Hallmackenreuther – all the children in the neighborhood were invited but he was the youngest, so he sat with me and Mama while the older children huddled very close to the wide-screen television monitor that had been set up in the room, to watch one of our neighbors on the popular German show “Das Perfecte Promi Dinner” where German celebrities “cook-off” in competition for a 5,000 Euro prize that is then donated to the charity of their choice.

We don’t have a TV set in our home so almost any form of television in interesting to him. At least last night’s show didn’t feature any plane crashes or murders or fighting, unless you count the sparring that took place on-screen between the celebs, which was good fun. Last weekend he got another kind of TV exposure and it was just the kind that I try to avoid. I knew he had wandered into his Oma’s TV room, because when I went looking for him at one point I found the two of them all curled up together on a reclining chair watching the tube. I didn’t think much about it until two days later. It’s our customary procedure to read a book before going to bed, then I sit with him for a little longer usually chatting aloud with the stuffed animal of his choice and then later with him. It’s an opportunity to talk about the events of the day and I often learn some surprising things during those little talks. It’s funny how one of his stuffed animals can get him to talk about something he might not otherwise talk to Papa about directly. I don’t recall which animal I was speaking with, probably one of his may bears, but at some point in the dialogue I turned the animal around and he “spoke” directly to HH, to get his take on the subject at hand. It was then that HH told his animal friend about the plane crash he had seen on TV at Oma’s. Actually it was the news coverage of the aftermath, with gruesome footage of gnarled steel and smoke and commentary about the dead and injured. He was clearly concerned about it and about the people who had died. He asked me how it had happened and what became of the people and I tried to explain it without creating even more anxiety for him. We fly a good deal, HH and I, between Europe and the USA, and it has always been something he looks forward to. I don’t know what he will say the next time we have to fly or how long he will remember what he saw and heard on TV that night. I read the news accounts of the plane crash. The post that precedes this one deals with the subject and I must admit that any pleasure I may derive from traveling is certainly diminished by a measure of tension I carry around with me whenever I board a plane.

I don’t want HH to worry about these things, not now, he’s too young. I know it’s inevitable that he would see and hear such reports but I’ve done my best to keep that part of the reality of the world at bay. But now it’s out in the open and I expect there will be nights to come when he brings up the subject again. I don’t look forward to it.

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