Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Grand Experiment

Did you know that this week is Turn Off Your Television week? I was going to blog about it at the beginning of the week, to give everyone the opportunity to hop on board with us, but without the tv hypnotizing my son into a robotic stupor, I haven't had as much blogging time!

In truth, we had begun weaning for this about a month ago. JH was watching a lot of Nick Jr. but kept migrating to Nick, and I was noticing two things: He was being sassier than usual, and at every commercial, he'd say "Oh, that is SO cool! Can I have that?" So we cut waaaay back on Nick. No more Drake and Josh or iCarly. He can watch them when he's older, but at seven, I don't need him to be more of a smart ass than he already is naturally (because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as he reminds me). The only thing he can watch on Nick is Sponge Bob. Because, God Help Me, I like that little sponge! And as you know, Patrick and I have a history.

But the real reason I wanted to turn off the tv is to motivate myself. We hadn't eaten dinner at the dining room table in months. We'd sit in front of the tv for Jeopardy! every night, and my dining room table was piled with mail and paperwork and the remains of the day, with apologies to Mr. Forster. We wouldn't really converse much, except to bark at JH to finish his dinner. It was an occasional treat that had become a nightly habit, and I didn't like how I felt. It was like eating McDonald's every night. I could feel my brain getting blobbier by the second.

We had given JH the warning about it the minute I read that it was coming up. He looked at me with horror in his eyes, and complained for about a minute, but then he got used to the idea. For the month leading up to it, he'd ask when it was, and he'd come up with ideas about what we could do for fun instead. We gathered up books at the library, we planned art projects, we thought about how big we could build his train track.

I cleaned off the dining room table, put on a bright table cloth and candles, and we've had dinner there every night this week. It's been a blast. I've learned a lot too. When I asked him what would be the best and worst thing about being a bear, he said "You first, Mom". So I told him that the best thing would be hibernating, and the worst thing would be hunting for food. His jaw dropped and his eyes went so wide I thought his eyelids would disappear: "No WAY! I am THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF YOU! The WORST thing would be hibernating, and the BEST thing would be hunting! That would be FUN!" I think that was maybe the first time he realized that he was his own person and not just my extra arm.

Oh, and do you know how we spent our anniversary evening? I made a steak dinner, with beautiful, fresh meat from the local butcher shop (hey, I said we'd cut back 20 percent, and if you can't have steak on your anniversary, then you're a complete granola head), and because I had gotten Charley a cd of The City of Prague Symphony playing Music From StarWars, we listened to music and cracked open, for the first time, the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit that I had gotten him for his birthday about 8 years ago. I was definitely at a disadvantage, being the only non-geek at the table, but I acquitted myself pretty well for someone who watches Star Wars movies while folding laundry and doing dishes and reading the paper and picking my cuticles. It was a night I will always remember with a smile.

I don't know if we'll be able to keep it up: I'd like to hope so. It's been great for us as a family. But the grown-ups have already cheated twice after JH has gone to bed. BAD grownups. But I have read more at night, and have discovered a new favorite author: Tony Earley. I'm reading Jim The Boy, and can't wait to get my hands on the rest of his stuff. Like Kent Haruff, he writes with powerful simplicity. Love it, love it, love it. I also have Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell on hold at the library.

I would say the only real drawback to this week has been that I've had my reading glasses on more, so I've noticed that my chin hairs are more plentiful, nay, more luxurious, than I've ever seen them.

So I guess that means our next experiment is "Cover Up All The Mirrors Week".


Lolabola said...

Cover up all the mirrors is something I have done and it is very interesting.

I'm so glad you are doing this. Sitting together for a meal is such a treat.

Lisa L said...

Sitting together at dinner is lovely. Some 10 years ago I was talking to a sage friend who had kids older than mine. Her 2 were amazing students, into sports, the whole 9 yards. I asked her what it was,did she think, that encouraged excellence in her kids. She said that they had made a rule: no TV during the week, and as much as they wanted to watch on the weekends. Inspired, I decided to adopt this idea. As my shortees at the time were little television addicts, I announced the new rule at our house and was met with huge protests....interestingly enough, it was easy. The first weekend came around and they hunkered down and watched their fave stuff.All weekend. As time went on, they became less and less interested..they'd watch a show here and there, but that old addictive behavior disappeared thank goodness. Oh, and I agree with you about how sassy kids get when they watch certain sit-coms...mine too..ick. LOL re: the reading glasses and 'interesting' mirror discoveries :) My husband has a good point...if everyone else is as presbyoic as we are, no one notices the odd stray hairs!

Anonymous said...

Your anniversary night was so cute. Truly, the anniversary of a mom, right? Rich and I only sometimes get a sitter for our anniversary (it's 2 days after Christmas, so usually, we don't have one lined up) so we are usually doing something with the kids too. This year, I think Bailey said something like, "I'm so happy you guys got married and had this family". And really, there's no better present than that. Except for Rich's PS3 that I surprised him with. While I got nada. But I digress.

I'm sorry, but there will be no turning off the tv of this week. Grey's is finally back on!

Amber said...

Will it count if I get yo Gabba Gabba on DVD for Isaac?**insert your side eye here**hehe!!:)

Love ya:)

Lady Di said...

Wait -- you left out a most interesting / telling tidbit: what exactly did the grown-ups find compelling enough that they had to cheat and watch? (Oh, and was it harder to get JH or Charley to give up the TV? Methinks it might be DH and not the kiddo that would really whine at my house!)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the "Down with the television" movement. I'm not sure we could do it gracefully right now. How else do you feed a baby with a toddler roaming around? I have serious respect for my grandparents!

I thought I was the only one married to a Star Wars nut. Glad to know I'm not alone. Most of the other Star Wars junkies that my hubby knows are either not married, in middle school, or clearly not in middle school but still living with their parents anyway! Haa haa.

I, Rodius said...

I can't believe I hadn't heard of this until Friday of the week in question. We would have had to cheat for new Lost last night. I'm not proud that I've already used TV to zombify the baby in his high chair while I empty the dishwasher. His tastes are weird. He has no interest in Sponge Bob, but Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera turn him into a zombie. Guess he likes to keep up on his celebrity gossip and cooking tips.

English Garden said...

Good for you guys on the TV, we gave up cable when we moved, Kate still watches plenty with the DVD's that we have (nemo, little mermaid, monsters etc etc) but I do love that she doesn't get all the comercials and stuff. I think when they are both in school I like the rule about no TV during the week but whatever you want on weekends. I also like the family dinner, we try and do that every night.