Monday, February 12, 2007

Nando's Ideas On Child Rearing

Nando and I were starting to watch a film tonight, at 9PM. He selected "2 Days in the Valley," because we had pretty much seen everything else. When he turned to the Sky Movies 9, the channel it was on, a prompt came on the screen asking for the PIN. Sometime last year, Sky implemented this PIN protection scheme, supposedly to prevent children from watching certain films. This film was rated "18," here in the UK, which is the equivalent of "R" in America, only more restrictive. In America, someone under 17 can watch an R rated film, so long as he's accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. In Britain, no one under 18 can see an "18" rated film, regardless if his parents okay it.
British TV has this scheme called, "the 9 o'clock watershed." It's based on the presumption that children will be in bed by 9PM, so it's okay to broadcast swearing and more adult themed programs from 9PM on. The watershed applies to terrestrial broadcast TV. As Sky Movies is a an encoded, pay subscription service, distributed by satellite, the 9PM watershed shouldn't apply. Usually, Sky announces that its channels have an 8PM watershed, not 9PM. The downside was that all the films aired during the day were kid's films. In response to complaints from subscribers that all that's ever on during the day is crap kid's films, Sky started offering films for older audiences on a couple of its film channels, but put in place this PIN protection. To me, the PIN Protection scheme was unnecessary, because Sky already offered a parental protection facility, which parents could turn on to block certain channels, unless the PIN was input. We had the parental protection switched off, because there are no children in the house. The annoying thing about the new PIN protection is that it's not optional, so even households like ours have to mess around with it. It requires that the PIN be input for any film Rated over 12. The really silly thing is that as this film was staring at 9PM, it was past the watershed anyway.
We entered the PIN and as the film was starting, Nando said, "why should they worry about kids watching? All kids in UK go to bed at 7PM." After I pointed out that some people don't send their kids to bed that early, Nando said. "one thing I don't understand...all over the world, why people send children to bed at a particular time? Children are like other humans. What's the point in making them go to bed when they are not sleepy? When a kid is sleepy, he can go to bed then. That's it!"
That's a pretty liberal view for a man who admires such authoritarian all-stars as Hitler and Mussolini. "That's a pretty enlightened perspective, Nando. I am surprised to hear you say that," I said.
"Another thing," he continued (once Nando gets started, he usually goes on for quite a bit), "why make children eat at a certain time, when they aren't hungry?"
"I think set meal times and bed times are primarily for the parent's convenience," I offered in explanation. "If a mother has to cook dinner, for example, she needs to be able to plan for having it ready at a certain time."
"Alright, I could see that might be necessary for cooking," Nando agreed, "but let them go to bed when they are tired."
"My ex-wife," in other words, the Black Queen, "used to send her kids to bed because she wanted some time alone, with me," I explained. "I think parents would worry that if they let kids stay up, the kids would not go to bed when they feel tired, but end up falling asleep on the chairs they are sitting in."
"That's okay," Nando replied, "they can pick them up and put them in bed."
"You sound like the people at TCS, which stands for 'Taking Children Seriously,' " I informed our favorite Italian. "I went to a talk given by a woman from TCS, once. She said you shouldn't force children to go to school."
"That's different," Nando objected. "Children need to go to school. It's not just about learning what is in books, or learning on this date this and this happened, or where different countries are located. They need to learn how to be with other kids their own age."
"They could be taught at home," I pointed out.
"How I'm going to do that?" objected Nando. "I know how to learn, I don't know how to teach someone." After a pause, he said, "when I was a kid, I didn't want to go to school. Now, I know school is good. The reason kids don't like to go to school isn't because of the books and learning stuff, it's because they have to get up at six in the morning to be at school at eight in the morning. No matter what time kids go to bed, they don't like to get up early. They should start school at ten o'clock and let them stay there till 5PM."
"TCS folks say you shouldn't force children to go to school, if they don't want to go," I said, calmly.
"I don't like people who are radical," Nando responded, drifting back to his authoritarian roots.
"You're radical," I said.
"No, I'm not," Nando said in rebuttal.
"Letting children go to bed when they want to is pretty radical," I said, teasing him. At that point, something strange happened on TV. The film had been running a few minutes. It seemed like this man was trying to force himself upon his ex-girlfriend. The picture went off and was replaced by a graphic which read, "Sky Movies 9." I had never seen this happen before, during a film on Sky Movies.
Nando tried changing channels. The others were working normally. We saw an advertisement for Sky's PIN protection service. The ad stresses that the service is free. I said to Nando, "if I pay extra, can we have the service turned off?"
Nando laughed. "Yes, I pay £10 per month more, you turn off this PIN crap." He turned back to Sky Movies 9, but still the film wasn't running again.
"Maybe they have a technical problem," I suggested.
"Maybe the tape broke," Nando offered.
"I don't think they would be using tape, in this day and age," I said. "Surely they must use discs now. Maybe the boss came in and said, 'don't show this film,' because it looked like a rape scene." The graphic changed, finally, and a different one came on, which informed viewers that the program following represents a change from what was scheduled. Then the Columbia pictures logo came on and a different film started. It was an old western. I had never seen such a thing happen before. It seems that, even with the PIN protection, Sky chickened out of showing the film they had started with. As the film was originally released in 1996, surely the people at Sky knew what was in it.
"I'm not watching this crap," Nando announced. He switched to "Lethal Weapon 4," which we have both seen numerous times. Nando never tires of watching "Lethal Weapon" films.

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