Growing up, Thursday nights were the only 30 minutes of television allowed in our house. The Cosby Show. Throwing away the TV was something my dad would threaten when he got really steamed up, and you better believe we immediately checked ourselves. (How many of you were hoping this post might actually be about boobs?)
I LOVE myself some TV, make no mistake. The Digital Video Recorder (DVR) was one of the greatest discoveries Mark introduced to my frugal world some six odd years ago. My erudite and cerebral DVR list includes classics such as The Real Housewives of New York, Craft Wars and The Glee Project. Delightful.
As much as I LOVE the TV (and I’ve put “love” in all caps twice in this post, folks), I always envisioned my children running around the backyard making fairy houses out of sticks and building forts out of cardboard boxes. I never said as much to my dad, but his anti-tv stance had rubbed off on me. Until I had kids.
The television is my hallelujah-happy hour-waiting to exhale-do the hokey pokey-moment of the morning. There comes a point when breakfast has been fed. The post breakfast high has worn off. And the kids are crashing hard. This is the point when I reach for the remote control with giddy exuberance and try to keep my voice from quivering as I ask the kids, “Wanna watch some Yo Gabba Gabba?” As the heavenly sounds of DJ Lance Rock’s footsteps come into our living room, I can feel my heartbeat quiet down just a smidge.
Television in the parenting world is a temporary break from the reality of our day. While the Gabba Gang prances around singing, I can check my email, put away the wreckage from the aforementioned post-breakfast high, and have a sip (or two!) of my coffee. I can make a strong case for all the great messages my kids are getting from this show… self control, sharing, bravery, friendship, but I quite honestly wouldn’t care if the take-away was how to hot-wire a mini-van.
(Mark can’t stomach the show for more than 5 minutes; every time it comes on, he mutters about how weird it is that the character’s mouths don’t move and how every song is virtually the same tune. But he’s pretty quick to fire that bad boy up when he’s had the kids all morning!)
I still don’t think the television is great for children… years ago, I read an article that said it takes hours for children to switch from their passive (i.e. TV watching) brain to their active (i.e. let’s go to school) brain. Obesity, bad language, and attention spans have all been implicated in too much television viewing in children. Personally, I don’t love that my children become zombie-tazer victims when they see a television, but until the dust settles, I’m willing to take one for the team and turn a blind eye. That’s a lot of clichés right there.
All this aside, I respectfully ask all of you to keep this post to yourself when our children are having dinner at your house in ten years and complaining about how their parents won’t let them watch more TV. The second we became parents, we also became hypocrites and I’m completely okay with that if it allows me 45 minutes to catch my breath every morning.