"No screen time before age 3." That's the official recommendation here in France. But give me a break: I haven't yet met a three-year-old who hasn't spent just a little time plugged into the television, especially among the not-so-into-naptime set.
Le Petit is no exception. We do try to seriously limit the amount of time he spends in front of the television, but he has a favorite DVD, just like every other two-year-old on the block. His choice is somewhat unusual, however, for instead of Dora or Thomas, le Petit only has eyes for the Vienna Philharmonic's 2008 New Year's Concert.
For some time now, we've listened to the audio CD on almost endless loop. At first, he only wanted to hear The Blue Danube and Radetsky-Marsch, and those two tracks were the entire authorized soundtrack of a recent trip home from Troyes; anything else we played was booed and, err, otherwise loudly dismissed by our music critic in the back seat. Recently (thankfully!) we've convinced le Petit to listen to the entire second disc of the two CD set. But oh, the excitement the day Daddy brought home the DVD. There was the conductor! And the violins! And the french horns! And the flowers! And the ladies dancing!
Le Petit prances around the living room to the music, clapping his hands and jumping up and down so hard he actually breaks a sweat, stopping occasionally to catch his breath and point out the different instruments. I go off to work in the morning humming Strauss and wondering when this obsession will end. We get tired of it, of course, the relentless sameness of it, but since you can't escape mind-numbing repetition with a toddler, I'd much rather have Georges Prêtre in my living room than Elmo. (Although Elmo was starting to grow on me, I'll admit, even after the 178th viewing of Elmo's Christmas Countdown, le Petit's former all-time favorite video.) I'll admit, too, that I'm happy that we can still impose our tastes on le Petit just a little bit. We like classical music, and so far, he seems to like it, too.* I don't delude myself. I know this influence can't last.
Or maybe he'll wind up directing the Vienna New Year's Concert 2038. A girl can dream, right?
In the meantime, we have a little trouble turning on the television or stereo for anything else. We put on Bach, Vivaldi, John Coltrane or 10,000 Maniacs and the result is the same: much screaming and stomping of feet, and cries for "Waltz! Waltz! Je veux waltz!!"
To which we reply:
"Ask for it nicely, please."
"Je veux waltz S'IL TE PLAIT."
How could we refuse?
*For the record, we're listening primarily to classical music lately, partly because it's the grown-up version of toddler obsession, and partly because those discs happen to be in the front of the bookshelf. But I'm no snob, and I've been trying to expand le Petit's musical horizons with some jazz and rock. Le Petit had a John Coltrane phase. And a Beatles phase, although he only dug Sergent Pepper, and screamed when I put on Abbey Road. Go figure.