We watch... so you don't have to.

Doctor Spock? I thought It Was Mister Spock

Being a parent in this modern world is a daunting prospect. Sex and drugs and -- worst of all -- television run rampant through the streets and perfect strangers feel free to march right up to you and demand your comprehensive plan for shielding your child from all three.

Some parents take it upon themselves to set a good example by actually being good. Some are overwhelmed by the prospect and simply abandon their responsibility entirely.

Me, I plan to lie.

Near as I can tell, the secret to good parenting is a deep and profound sense of hypocrisy. The watchword for smart child-rearing in the era of diminished expectations is the phrase "Do as I say, not as I do."

Because, Lord knows, what I do is just awful.

Where the sex and drugs are concerned, the lies I plan to tell are actually embellishments. I'm going to have to make up something about weekends in Tijuana, because the prospect of explaining to my son that his dad is the sort of weenie who writes for Web sites in his free time is just too painful. Hookers, drug smuggling -- it'll be good.

But as for television: all my lies about television will be extravagant tales seriously downplaying how much time I spend staring at the box. Because if I tell the truth and he follows my example, all that postpartum development -- the ability to sit up and not drool -- will have been for naught.

As things stand now, Thomas is three months old and has better taste in television than I do. He'd rather sit quietly in his own excrement than watch the second half of the Tim Robbins/Martin Lawrence dirge "Nothing to Lose" on cable. If only I could say the same thing.

At some point -- it happened subtly -- television became my anesthetic of choice. I come home from work exhausted, and am drawn to the cool flickering light of the tube like a stubborn, retarded moth. Flit, flit, flit, bang. Flit, flit, flit, bang.

TV is easy. It doesn't ask for anything. It will happily broadcast its swill to your living room carpet. It makes the daily nastiness -- where you are required not only to think, but interact, sometimes even with people -- go away. TV is life's little pause button, where you can derail the charging locomotive of the intellect and let your forebrain get some shut-eye. Dogs watch TV.

It's insidious and addictive. On some fundamental level, it's evil. Hours drain away, life drains away, and all you are left with to show for that precious time is a saggy-faced stupor. It's midnight? What? But I sat down at seven!

And that's why I'm going to lie to my son.

I will tell him that Daddy only watches good shows. I will tell him that Daddy doesn't waste his time on crap. I will tell him that mindlessness -- in anything -- is the worst thing there is, and sitting slack-jawed on the sofa, watching the last half of a movie he already wasted two hours and seven dollars on in the theater is not something he would ever do. Oh, no.

I will tell him to live every moment, every beautiful moment, to its fullest, drinking deep from the miracle and wonder around him every day. I will tell him examine every action, every minute, to make sure that he will not look back with the regret of waste.

And then I will put him in bed and turn on Just Shoot Me.


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