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I do not believe television should be used as a nanny or parenting tool, yet my daughter and I seem to be watching a lot of it these days. It all started when I was newly separated, my back was in spasms from moving, and I was trying to prepare dinner with a squirming 30 pound child on my hip. Any parent can immediately envision this scene and knows how difficult it is to do when somethings awry (like a back ache!). Music always has a calming affect but that didn’t work so out came My Fair Lady. My little one became completely absorbed in the story and the songs and, thus, a musical junkie was born!

This past year has witnessed the musical evolution of my little girl. My Fair Lady to The Sound of Music to Mary Poppins to the Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Then, suddenly, she started to dance whenever music came on so out came GiselleSwan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty (ballet and not Disney). The obsession with ballet was well timed for the long Winter months and has not tapered. In fact, she is even more interested in dancing and singing than ever before! I don’t seem to mind the ballet on the television for hours at a time and, I think, it is primarily because there is no dialogue. Only music. No censoring is required and I never fear that she will learn and start repeating something horrible. I am always surprised by the level of violence, both in action and language, and anxiety in Disney films. My daughter cannot bear to see Finding Nemo, the baby fish becoming separated from his parent is absolutely terrifying!

Ballet has become a part of our household and we are both learning a lot and becoming ballet aficionados. We know, thanks to YouTube, what performances we like and don’t like. In fact, there has been so much ballet in our life lately that I’ve recently introduced Gene Kelly via Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris. More importantly, the combination of the trampoline (a Christmas gift) and all the musicals create an excellent stage for lots of bouncing, spinning, and practicing of dance moves.

If you must turn the television on, then I must recommend musicals! Singing and dancing are therapeutic and release energy and with these DVDs you need not worry about bad language, violence, or commercials. And please remember, that music and dance is not gender specific, the benefits are equal for both boys and girls! Most of these DVDs can be rented at the library or on Netflix. Hmm, maybe Fred and Ginger will be next…

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