The Ballad Of Two Couch Potatoes.

by Serge Bielanko

Watching Violet this past week has been just badass. She'll be sitting in her electric swing, eyes completely fixated upon the little pink and brown mobile that's attached, and all of the sudden, BAM! She starts to coo and sigh and she moves her eyes toward me or her momma and let's out a shrill exclamation of recognition, or love, or "I have crapped myself...a little help here, folks!" The messages are sort of lost in translation. But the gist is clear enough. She is beginning to connect the dots that shape our world. Watching her eyes widen just before she lets out a sound, its almost as if I can see the soldering going on inside her baby brain, teeny wisps of smoke leaking from her ears. Sweet connections are being made over here and then over there as lines of current are opened for the very first time. I had never given it a moment of thought before, that life begins so beautifully: with swinging in the living room and mobile flowers and the sounds of a three-month old recognizing something or feeling excitement. Now its crammed into every nook of me.

Maybe the best part of all this is seeing that my daughter is captivated by the TV. Yeah yeah, I know, studies show that too much television dulls a child's intellect and limits learning capacity and ultimately leads to unemployment, bongs, and dreams that die on the wings of an eagle that lives in the basement. But, I don't know. I ain't parking Violet in front of the tube for hours on end or anything. Its more like when she is chillin for a bit, no crying/no fussing, and I am able to hit the pause button on the day for a sec and grab a Diet Coke and some pretzels; I set her up, softly lodged, in the crack between the cushions on the sofa. Then, we watch a little pro bass fishing or baseball or Friends and she glares at the damn thing as if she can see something far beyond the screen: some hidden world of secrets being revealed to chosen babies. It's an impressive attention she pays.

Sitting there on the couch and relaxing for a little while as a long day winds down,...that can't be all bad, right? I mean, leaning up on somebody else's story can be a good thing sometimes, no? Everybody can say what they want about how to raise the perfect baby and how TV can hurt their intellectual chances down the road, maybe even make them dumb. But I don't know. We each have to trust our guts when it comes to all this. And here and there, television allows me and Violet a bit of a break each evening. A respite from all that seriously hard work going on during the live-long day. Something to watch together between all this getting used to each other.