Jersey City Dad: DVD – The Gift That Keeps Giving

We’re coming up on our second plane date with Dash — next week I’ll address this more directly — and there are certain things I’ve come to realize. The act of raising a kid is one long series of decisions: some go well and you reap many benefits; some go well and are not thought of again; some become a mixed blessing; some are bad but paved with good intentions; some are bad and were a mistake from day one and you will be punished again and again.

After spending about an hour in the car driving out to our friend’s summer place, I’d like to break down one of the decisions we’ve made since bringing Dash home.

When we were visiting friends in July, our host’s father very generously gave us a portable DVD player. Any experienced parent will know where this is going, but let me lay it out there anyway. He called the thing, which is the size of a book, “The Peacemaker” — and it worked quite effectively. After that, we spent four full days in the car and pretty much let Dash watch whatever he wanted. We even picked up some Thomas the Tank Engine videos to make the whole thing more enjoyable for Dash because he loved watching it at home. It occupied Dash for long periods of time.

Then we got home and Dash wouldn’t shut up about Thomas. Literally it was two days of Thomas Thomas Thomas (repetition is never a problem for a two year old). Kathy and I had had enough of Thomas at that point and took the opportunity to give him a rest. Dash would even get mad if the television (which he gets in limited doses) was on one of the other shows he used to like. It was weird. But we held firm and he relented.

I came to the realization that Dash was very into the concept of “On Demand.” Who doesn’t love watching what they want when they want? Not me. But there is a certain amount of prudence to this, and a two year old doesn’t get that. Then we kind of turned it into a whole teaching thing where he didn’t get Thomas but maybe something else he liked — the idea being that one need not get what he wants to be entertained. It worked.

Then we hopped into the car Saturday for our first trip outside the neighborhood since getting back and Dash went down the list of his entire library of DVDs. None of which we had, plus he needed a nap and the idea was that he’d sleep in the car. So we paid once again for “The Peacemaker” during the first 20 minutes of the trip, but eventually he fell asleep and we felt vindicated in our decision to not use it.

I’m sure Dash isn’t done with the DVD-in-the-car concept, nor are we for that matter. While I’m inclined to say that it was a bad idea where we pay again and again, I think the DVD is a mixed blessing. There’s no way the poor kid wouldn’t have been bored out of his tree without the DVD, but the repercussions for better and worse are still being felt.

a freelance writer based in Jersey City who has covered music of all genres as well as literature, the arts, food and real estate. His work has appeared in such publications as Elle, the Financial Times, the Star-Ledger, JazzTimes,,, Relix, Time Out New York, the Village Voice and Global Rhythm, where he was also editor-in-chief from 2006-2008.