A week after school got out, Rob came home to find the TV in the middle of the living room floor. That was as far as I could drag it after I flipped out on the kids and ripped the thing off the wall. (Okay, I carefully unplugged it.)
Before summer started we had a family meeting. We agreed on a few ground rules:
- I get to go to the gym every week day.
- We all have daily “separation time”.
- Each kid gets to pick 1 show per day.
- No whining about the above rules.
- I take them to do fun things all summer.
I somehow assumed that once we agreed on these rules, that would be the end of it.
Really? Why did I think that? What, in my experience with kids, made me assume they would be rational?
So everyday it was: “Gym? Noooo! Play in my room? Nooooo! I don’t want to watch what he/she picked!! I want to watch another one!!! One more! ONE MORE!!!!” Until I found myself lugging the TV across the living room.
Now, I am not a TV Nazi. I think, like anything, it can be a very useful tool in moderation. During the school year the kids got to watch a 1/2 hour to unwind after pick-up and a 1/2 hour while I cooked dinner. The truth is, for the first 4 years of her life Violet would have nothing to do with TV. I can’t count the times I was sick and begging her to just watch the flippin TV so I could rest. No. She only wanted to run around and climb on me. Graham, on the other hand, would happily sit in front of the idiot box all day. (It’s very tempting for me. This house would spotless, every meal a work of art, and my to-do list crushed.)
So after my irrational proclamation that they were “NOT GOING TO WATCH TV ALL SUMMER!!!”, reality hit. What have I gotten myself into? Well, it’s been two weeks. They’ve (mostly) stopped asking to watch TV. Instead they beg to use the computer/iPod. And I let them. For a bit. After all, they only really know how to go to PBS kids and a reading website. Of course, the first time I went to shower while they played on the computer I came out to discover they figured out how to watch PBS cartoons online. Sigh. So we’re working on some guidelines for computer time. At least it’s a little more active than laying coma-like in front of the tube.
And that is not to say they don’t watch any TV. It’s always on at the gym Kids’ Club. And when we visit the grandparents this summer I’m going to let them gorge themselves on Nickelodeon. Plus we have family movie night every so often.
I’m not trying to be all snooty and crunchier-than-thou about TV, I’m just experimenting. Is it possible my kids will learn to use their imaginations more? Will they figure out how to stop constantly fighting? Or will they spend all summer in time-out while I cower under the kitchen table babbling incoherently? Bet you can’t wait to find out.