Sunday, May 3, 2009

Whatcha Watchin'?: YouTube Pathways

I have been quite ill the last several days (making jokes about Swine flu is apparently not kosher(!) and will land you with Swine flu-esque symptoms), so it has been indoors for all of us. I worry that the children have yet to get whatever horrible cold or flu this is and that Aleks' surgery date is in jeopardy...

There is nothing to be done about it however, so under self-imposed quarantine, I was trying to get Bastian to watch a movie so I could rest while Papa got dinner ready. I think I'd pulled out Lord of the Rings as something we could all watch, but he began whining and saying something about a "spotted lizard." Thinking this had something to do with the leopard gecko we are supposed to get (which I will be calling a jaguar shark and naming Esteban, regardless of whatever Aleks wants to refer to it as), I pulled up YouTube and typed in "leopard gecko." We then watched this video:

Then we clicked on this video, which never loaded, so we watched just the beginning of this instead, which was too blurry, then a bit of this which was too long, and finally found this video of a two-headed bearded dragon eating cockroaches: Fascinating! We watched as the two heads were visibly trying to each control the body's direction to get to the food. They had to constantly work out how to agree, how to accomplish what each wished to accomplish, and being quite young, were obviously not yet entirely adept at this.

We then found this terribly engrossing and disturbing video, which I was not entirely certain about the children watching, but which they seemed to do just fine with, called "Everything Two Headed." I called Aleks in to watch knowing that he was quite fascinated with things with two heads due to a lengthy conversation about two-headed snakes and other assorted animals we had while eating lunch after one of the many doctor appointments we had in March. Also, while visiting Grandma Cat, we saw two girls sharing one body on TLC (which seems to have turned from the home decorating/life makeover channel to the bizarre health issue channel). Aleks was transfixed. I think his fascination stems from his love of monsters and myths and all things scary. That these things are actually real delights and confounds him. (WARNING: some images may be disturbing) And what is it that is so compelling about all this anyway? I felt pain, empathy for the situations of these living creatures and these improbable mutations. Bastian laughed, thinking it all some ridiculous joke. Aleks was somewhere in between, finding it stunningly impossible and drawn into the horror of it like a slack-jawed passerby at an auto accident.

Finally, we watched this two-headed snake swallowing a rat: That's when Aleks decided that he did not want a leopard gecko (jaguar shark) at all, but a two-headed snake instead. I had to explain that these things aren't just easy to come by and that the leopard gecko is free (and not excessively rare) and that we would therefor be sticking with that. What really worked to convey this was to note that the snake in the video had lived in Israel and had died in a fire. I don't think he knows where Israel is, but we were on to other things by then anyway. We sat on the couch and watched The Fellowship of the Ring and drank honey tea Papa made for us. Then we ate fish for dinner, which Aleks told Bastian was fried T-Rex.

It's amazing to wonder what on earth unschoolers did before the advent of the internet. I love that a series of clicking can lead me all over Wikipedia or Flickr or YouTube, discovering bizarre trivia from seemingly unrelated roots. The same might be said of social networking or message boards, the places in which I often find myself lost, following links to articles and arguments, getting caught in a whirlwind of compelling, condemning, or contradictory ideas. The internet is the near perfect aid for Flow, aside, of course, from that pesky tendency to distract and detract from real life concerns.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Oh.My.Word. The snake with the rat? Total gag factor for me. No way could I watch that one!