What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unplugged (?)

Lately I have been pondering with the idea of pulling an Oprah on my kids and denying them the pleasure and magic that is television.  Really, the only thing stopping me is because I know how painful it will be.  For me.  Now, if you are one of those parents who’s kids “don’t watch TV,” well, let me be the first to congratulate you.  And then call you a dirty little liar.  I’m sorry to call you names, but I have a hard time believing that there is no TV.  But also, if it is true that you are so magnificent and wonderful that your kids do not watch or need television for you to maintain moments of sanity, well, then, calling you names makes me feel better about myself.  (And I worship you.)
No matter how much or how little television my kids watch, I always feel a little bit bad about it, like I’m doing something wrong.  Maybe it’s because those high-pitched voices of Dora and Diego make me want punch myself in the face or maybe it’s because I feel like I’m not being creative enough or that I should totally be doing a craft with my kids instead of fast-forwarding to the good parts of The Real Housewives to try to finish the episode before the 23 minutes of Curious George come to end...but I am tired of feeling such shame over television.  (Like we need something else to feel guilty about.)  Now, don’t worry-the Gelato Kids are not sitting in front of a glowing screen all day, unless, of course, one of them is barfing or if I am barfing and let’s just say that if there is barf involved-that damn thing is on.  Like most kids, their TV time is monitored by Husband and myself.  But I completely depend on the magic of television at times and I’m not quite sure what would happen if I unplugged that thing for a day, a few days...a week.  What would happen when Daughter struts into our room at 5:48 am and I tell her sorry-no Wild Kratts this morning?  I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be reasonable about it.  Or those times when I need a little personal space while making dinner?   Or just personal space in general?  Frankly, I’m worried about my own personal safety.
Perhaps I feel guilty about it because, let’s face it, watching your kids watch TV is...scary.   The glazed over eyes.  The little spittle of drool dripping down those chins.  The constant desire for a SNACK!  Just a couple of junkies getting their fix.  But, oh my God, it’s so quiet.  And you don’t even need to be scared about that quiet because, no, nobody is drawing with a black sharpie marker on the inside of their ear, nobody is getting partially to fully naked, nobody is eating crayons...no, no, no...they are simply killing brain cells silently on the sofa and it is wonderful.
But what’s really pushing me to even consider turning the tube off for a bit is The Offspring’s incessant need to ask for television.  Can we watch a show?  Please?  Can we watch another one?  When can we watch a show?  I want to watch a show!  LET US WATCH A SHOW!  These pleas followed by an emotional breakdown when told No, Sorry, Nope, I said no, Too bad, Go cry in your room, YOU DON’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT, are exhausting.  There is really no need for them to be so consistent in their badgering of me for television.  You would think they have no toys or games or scooters or markers or IMAGINATIONS, which of course, they have all of those things.  I think part of the problem is how easy television is these days; you can watch any show at any time without commercials-not like when WE were kids and after walking UPHILL both ways from school, were lucky to catch an episode of The Brady Bunch before flipping that thing off and heading for the backyard, because, you know, there was nothing on.
So, to watch or not to watch, that is the question.  I may need a bit more time to mentally prepare for the possible void of television in the house; I mean, how many rounds of Go Fish and Sorry can I play before I start twitching?  But I am intrigued by what this experiment could bring our family.  
Oh, and don’t think that thing wouldn’t come on at 7:30 pm when all is quiet in the house.  Really, Mama can’t miss her shows.  These are my brain cells and I’ll kill them if I want to.


  1. Another great post! Our school has a reading program and one of the tasks, if the family chooses is to turn off the tv (any tech tool ipod,iphone,DS game) M-F. Not even parents are to turn it on when the kids go to bed. It was really neat to hear some of the feedback at the end of the year. Lots of the families are thankful for the no tech tools on M-F rule and found it was very refreshing! But, I don't have kids and I love my lazy evenings watching After Lately and Andy Cohen's WWH on Bravo TV. So maybe try it and when it becomes too much- shout out "just kidding!!!!" and turn that sucker on!!!

  2. We unplugged for two weeks, for similar reasons as what you are saying and with what sounds like similar tv watching habits. Granted, I took it away on impulse when on the same day, different times, my 5 year old and 4 year old both threw a giant massive fit when I *gasp* turned the thing off. Enter crazed mom shouting that there would be no tv for 2 weeks...but despite my horror at what I'd just done to myself I was pleasantly surprised. After a day or two they all played better with each other, dinner still got made, and they even badgered me less than before. Granted...the tv did come back on in our house so it wasn't all roses (the hardest for us was when my kids (5,4,2) were too exhausted to do much of anything but not ready to sleep and I just needed to stretch them to either dinner or bedtime. But there's been less watching since then and WAY less badgering about whether it can come on. I'm sure we'll take breaks from it again when the lessons wear off.