Friday, September 25, 2009

the oompa loompas had it right

This morning with busy hands trying to gather snacks and water for our trip to the park, Greta insisted I read just a tiny bit more of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We left off last night where Mike Teavee had just been made small and was transported into the TV. She was dying to know what happened next. Henry was biting at my ankles, and she couldn't wait just one more minute while I please just get this water poured and lid closed! Finally I took the book, sat in the middle of the kitchen floor and said, "OK, two pages!" I admit I did this begrudgingly at first because well, I was busy for goodness sake. But I try, oh ever so hard not to turn down any requests for reading time. So I read, Henry mysteriously disappeared and Greta sat to listen.
And this is what we read:
The Oompa Loompas sang...

"The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set–
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all the shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink–
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK–HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy–Winkle and–
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole–
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks–
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start–oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hears. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,
We very much regret that we
Shall simply have to wait and see
If we can get him back his height.
But if we can't–it serves him right
Just for the record, we do not have a TV in the house. I do allow Greta to watch certain dvds on our computer that we deem appropriate, and this is typically while Henry is taking a nap. But I must admit, and this photo is proof, that I have let Henry sit with Greta to watch "Peep and Quack" while I get some dishes out of the way. I know, it's terrible!! I love this photo though, it tells so much. It reminds me that even the computer, though not a TV set, is still just a boob tube.

2 comments:

The Kender-Page said...

I was raised in a TV-less home too! In the ultimate act of rebellion, I then chose it for my profession.

Another Monkey said...

love your blog, Rachel ;) It's so great that you're emphasizing books over tv... keep it up as long as possible. I would imagine it's a matter of teaching the kids to understand there are good books, bad books, good tv and bad tv.... but at their age... books definitely win - if only for the bonding and teaching them to be self-reliant with the power of reading...