TV or Not TV, That is the Question

Before I had Camille and before my friends had kids, I used to believe televisions did not belong in cars. I was a travel snob, and may have even said something like, “we didn’t have TVs in the car when I was growing up, so why should my kids? They need to enjoy the scenery like I did!”
Then I had a child. And I took a road trip. And it was tough.
Camille is a good traveling buddy. She sleeps well in the car, and she’s content to look out the windows for a little while or look at books. But even good kids have limits, and after 4 hours of being strapped into a carseat so tightly she looks more like an astronaut ready for liftoff, she’s done being in the car. If she cries, I don’t blame her.
When we were growing up, we weren’t quite as restricted. I listened in horror when my parents recounted early trips with my brother when he was a baby – how they’d put a mattress in the backseat and let him roll around and play. On the one hand, I don’t know how any of us survived. But on the other hand, it sure would make trips easier if the kids could stretch out for the ride. I obviously don’t remember trips we took when I was a baby, but I do remember being older and lying down in the backseat, curled up with a book and my Vanilla Ice cassette single in my walkman.
Well, we have several lengthy trips coming up, and tonight, Lee and I made the BIG PURCHASE. A portable car DVD player. Our compromise is that we won’t have it in the car all the time – it will be reserved for long car trips only. I think it’ll help keep her happy and entertained for a while on these road trips, which is good for all of us, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty.
My guilt includes all things TV related when it comes to Camille. Yes, I am aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that kids watch no TV before the age of 2. I think about that nearly every time the TV comes on. But she LOVES watching TV, and let’s be honest, I like it too.
We still try to limit the amount of TV she watches. She only sees a few shows, and sometimes only a few minutes of those shows. She has one beloved DVD about animals, and I can’t find too much harm in that. These facts help assuage the guilt a bit, but it doesn’t go away completely. I sit there and wonder what kinds of things I could be teaching her during that TV time – but sometimes we all just need a quick break!