4/20/10

Half Empty

Pessimism has served me well this week. I'm facing disaster head on. There's no smoke and mirrors this time. It's all too real: No TV Week, rainy day schedule, and daddy off to a tropical isle for a man surf trip. I'm thinking about drowning myself in that half empty glass right now.
Five days of NO TV this week (I am getting more realistic already, the 7 day week whittled down to 5). Shelby's school has offered families the opportunity to turn off their TVs for one week to promote healthy family time. The enthusiasm for this activity came home sounding like this, "We can do game night and popcorn! We can go for a bike ride and play bolleyball outside!" while jumping up and down and clapping her dimpled kinder hands, and "We can do art projects and playdough!"
The guilt arrived in her backpack on a yellow flier with factual information and the slogan "TV-Turnoff Week: Dare to be free-Don't watch TV!" The flier was peppered with facts like: "The average family spends 4-5 hours every day watching TV but only 35 minutes having a meaningful conversation." And "Studies show that watching 10 or more hours of television a week negatively impacts creativity, problem solving, and reading levels." And the kicker, "The average child spends 900 hours per year in school-yet over 1,023 hours per year in front of a television."
While our family doesn't necessarily fit the average American standard, we are certainly nowhere near perfect. We operate our television for movie purposes only, we do not have cable or local television programming. No commercials, no channel surfing. On average, my children watch anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours of movies every day. Let's see, extrapolated that means my kids spend 913 hours a year in front of the television, not the average 1,023. Hmph. Not much satisfaction there.
Then there is this fact, "In an average four hours of Saturday morning cartoons your child will view 200 advertisements for junk foods and candy." Not to mention the violence shown on television. I've got that one beat by a mile.
Back to the meaningful conversations, do we have 35 minutes of meaningful conversations every day? An interesting thought. I'm quite sure I do not have 35 minutes of meaningful conversation with my kindergartner. She is at school for most of her day and when she arrives at home we discuss her day for a few minutes, she jumps rope or draws and we do homework together. Then she's parked in front of that TV or at a gymnastics class or something until dinner time. The dinner table is more often than not a quiet place for conversation as a family, until interrupted by shrieking from the youngest member over yukky potatoes or too crispy chicken.
As for my toddler, I am pretty sure Ana talks AT me for at least 3 hours a day, is that meaningful conversation?
In conclusion, John and I eliminated regular programmed television from our lives more than 6 years ago and it has served us well. We spend an average of 4 hours each week in front of the TV (that's 208 hours each year). After we get the dishes cleaned and the kids to bed, we don't have time or energy to watch any movies on TV. And I'm fairly confident we get in 35 minutes of meaningful conversation with each other each day. But don't you dare ask me how much time we spend in front of our computers!
I think permanently eliminating movies on television for our children would be extremely ambitious. They certainly explore their toy boxes more often when the TV is off. They also argue more, not to mention the tornado they invite to the house. How could I get the dishes done, the laundry folded, the bills paid? Would that mean my kids would actually talk to me while I perform my chores? Hm, that may not be so bad. Meaningful conversation....
We are two days into NO TV Week and so far, Shelby has enthusiastically embraced her school's promotion. Our first evening was spent outside, sharing a meal, playing 'bolleyball', dancing, singing, and doing art. Bedtime came a little sooner since we didn't make time for a movie (sweet). And the girls were ready for stories and sleep after all that extra physical activity. This morning's routine went smoothly without the distraction of movies on TV. The girls even played trucks and trains together before the carpool.
Without smoke and mirrors, I'm facing reality with my eyes wide open. Which is exactly why I have justified NO TV Week for my entire family. But when Shelby is gone at school, and John at work or on vacation, that hardly counts for an entire family. Ana is too young to keep secrets, but old enough to quietly enjoy the movies she's been watching each morning this week while I am writing this blog and folding laundry.
Realism trumps pessimism every time.

1 comment:

krystina said...

great blog post - i tweeted it :)