I just returned from my annual two-month child rearing experiment of removing my daughter from her Beijing home (and from her mom for the first month) and taking her to the US to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Some might call it a holiday, but I call it a working experiment in child development while simultaneously creating headaches for Baba (WECDWSCHB for short).
After two weeks in San Ramon, California, where Reina and I got over our jetlag, we headed for the Oakland airport to fly up to Portland, Oregon. All went well until our flight was delayed and eventually canceled due to engine failure. Trust me, when an engine is the problem, you want that discovered before takeoff. Alone in the terminal with a tired 4-year-old who desperately wanted to get on the plane, I struggled to keep her entertained; in a lapse in judgment, I had packed away most of her toys and games. Waiting for another flight which was also delayed, I went to the iTunes store and downloaded a couple of episodes of Max and Ruby and Team Umizoomi, two animated shows that Reina had discovered on the television network Nick Jr. For the rest of the delay and the two-hour flight, Reina was much more amiable, despite the added five hours of waiting in the Oakland Airport.
In general, I am an advocate of the iPad as an educational tool and have been reluctant to install games or TV programs on the device for my child; I have a few games for me, but that’s another story. However, before making a seven hour drive with Reina where she was stuck alone in the backseat while I had to focus on the driving, I did us both a favor and downloaded a season of her new favorite cartoon. I was surprised at how well she managed her time between TV time and educational apps, but it was clear that if the TV programs remain on the iPad, Reina would be more likely to choose TV over educational apps. So now that we are back in Beijing, it’s time for the cartoons to disappear from the iPad, except for special occasions, and time to load it up with some new educational apps for the new school year. I’ll keep you posted on the good ones we find.