I’ve heard, over and over,
Individual tastes vary, to be sure. Earnest never saw much of interest in TV programming. He was very refined. He preferred to read (well, actually...eat) books. Tristan just liked the noise and sometimes he’d stare at the screen whether the TV was turned on or not. Well, Tristan was not the brightest boy… Sometimes, I’d leave the room during the news and return to find the three boys staring at some commentator. They seemed to like big heads and lots of talk. Or maybe they were really interested in world events. But, of our four, only Emma and Arthur have responded with real gusto to the "boob tube".
Arthur liked to watch "wildlife" shows. Horses were of particular interest, but birds would do. Test patterns were evil and he growled at them until mama made them stop. Arthur’s interest in television came to an abrupt halt after viewing "Silverado" one lazy afternoon. In the film, there’s a scene with an outdoor party at the ranch. People are cavorting, having a good time. Arthur was watching with interest - both food and horses were on the screen. There was also a little pig - black and white, just like Arthur. Well, the bad guys arrive and start tossing people and food around. Arthur became concerned. Then something evil happened to that little pig. I can’t remember exactly what - you’d have to ask Arthur. There was a flash of the pig running and then a horrible squeal. Arthur jumped up and stared at the screen - in shock. Too late. His pig was gone. I have never caught Arthur watching TV since.
Emma still loves TV. She watched her first Westminster Dog Show on TV with keen interest as a pup. She stared from the couch as the dogs paraded. Then the Mastiff caught her eye. She scrambled down from her perch to get a closer look. As the well endowed Mastiff turned she applied her tongue to the image of his backside. Once he was gone, she lolled on the cushions once more, head dangling off the couch, looking nonchalant. I thought she had lost interest. Poodles, Collies, German Shepherds - all marched by. She never twitched. Then the Sporting Group came on. Emma dashed over and embraced the TV screen with her front legs and began licking all the spaniels as they went by. I was stunned. This performance was repeated again the following year - with only the Mastiff and the Spaniels singled out for her affections.
Don’t think I just let them watch movies and dog sports. I think quality programming is important. When Emma was just 6 months old, a lovely PBS special aired. The subject was…wolves. Now Emma was a rowdy youngster, and I did question whether or not she should be exposed to this type of thing. She and papa were known to enjoy a good howl on a Saturday morning. Perhaps more incentive to revert to wild behavior was not advisable. The truth is, like all parents, I needed an electronic "babysitter". I had a pile of ironing and a teenage puppy. My thinking was the noise would keep her occupied long enough get the ironing done and the show would give mama something to stare at so she could pretend she was not, in fact, ironing at all. The host was Timothy Dalton , always a nice distraction, so I confess I took the coward’s way out. Emma perched on the edge of the bed, just a foot from the screen, at the opening howl... mesmerized. I flattened cloth with glee. She watched, with fascination, the wolf pack in action. Emma stared at the mother teaching the cubs to hunt and kill. At one point she looked over her shoulder at her own inadequate mother and snorted. Who was going to teach her to kill? Certainly not this wimp playing with clothing. She made careful study. I swear she took notes. Next thing I know she’s stalking squirrels in the back yard, slinking about behind plants with a wolfish glow in her domesticated eyes.
No more nature shows for Emma. God forbid she should see a lioness in action...
Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Cusulas