He had been kept from the tube throughout infancy. He wasn't plopped down in front of it, his numb gaze transfixed. We didn't even watch it when he was in the room. I'm not pounding my chest with superiority; it's just a choice we made. We just thought the world should give him a taste of its wonders before he got lost in the flat void.
However the day arrived when we felt he was ready for limited and controlled viewing. I sampled loads of children's programming before settling on, what at the time was, PBS Kids Sprout, a relatively new cable channel with limited advertising (aimed not at kids but at caregivers) and relatively quiet shows that for the most part were reruns of PBS shows. Sesame Street, Sagwa and their kin made up the programming.
So on that day I let him have that hour and I observed him carefully. Intrigued, but not overwhelmed, he watched... and enjoyed. The timing of its introduction into his development was pretty good. His own imagination and play was supplemented, but not replaced, by what he watched.
Sprout as it existed then was a regular part of our home for a number of years after. Its sounds echoed through the house in the late afternoons and evenings and those familiar theme songs and shows can draw up memories for all of us. It continued playing long after all three kids had passed its target age.
This last September Sprout changed to Universal Kids. It had been coming. Comcast bought out PBS and other partners a few years back, upped the ad content, increased the programming of merchandise-oriented shows, and basically abandoned that which had made Sprout uniquely suited to younger viewers. That's life, I guess. We had it good for a while.
It's been a sad farewell to yet another bit of magic from that part of their lives.
So, here's a clip from that very day 11 years ago (he actually watched this that day.)