To my children’s dismay, I am not a fan of television. For many years, we relied upon an antenna to bring us whatever stations the wind might blow our way. Often, reception was fleeting, and we’d lose the last half of a show we had decided to watch. A couple years ago, we opted for satellite television.
We told ourselves that educational programming would be a good addition to our homeschool. The satellite company offered a “family package,” and that sounded perfect. Documentaries, nature shows and a few cartoons thrown in would be great. I would finally get to see an entire episode of “Law and Order” after the kids were in bed.
A few days later, Brian had buyer’s remorse. “There is nothing good on,” he said. “Maybe we should have gotten more channels.” We stuck it out on the cheapo plan, though.
For a while, we overdid it. I liked the design shows right up until I realized they were leaving me with a constant sense of unease. I have no design skill, no question there, but too many of those home improvement shows left me feeling deprived of the latest trendy home fashions. I turned them off, but it was harder than I thought it would be. Strictly educational TV would be the rule. We hoped.
We don’t get to see whales giving birth or see lions in the wild, so seeing those events on television was a plus. However, as we settled into a routine of an hour or so of television each day, that hour began to dominate our lives. We quickly ran out of educational options. There was arguing over what and when to watch.
Seating arrangements were problematic, too. Standing, talking or even moving around drew shouts of protest from fellow watchers. Worst of all, there was the whining for just one more show.
After a while, we cut back. Then we started farming. I found that having an electronic baby sitter meant I could finish up my chores outside without having to check on the kids as often. Some chores go faster without little hands to “help,” so keeping them occupied for an hour was a help at times.
What I got in return was irritable kids and more arguing. The younger ones stopped climbing trees and playing on hay bales and started asking to stay inside. One positive was that they could tell me the remarkable benefits of a number of products available for purchase. I winced, knowing that if the commercials were that ingrained, a lot of unwanted information was finding a way into my children’s brains. I started lobbying to pull the plug.
Brian agreed to three months without any TV. After that, we will evaluate the situation. I had the pleasure of calling the satellite company. If you are looking to lower your bill, get an extra receiver, get additional stations at a super-low introductory rate or just talk to a stranger for a very long time, I recommend calling to cancel your television service. The poor guy at the other end didn’t know what to make of me.
“If your kids are fighting over the TV,” he whined at me, “we can give you another receiver, so you can have another television just for them.” I explained that I didn’t want more televisions, I simply wanted no television. Three customer service reps later, I finally got my wish.
Detox can be brutal. Sometimes I miss the mind-numbing oblivion. Those days, we set out puzzles, games or craft projects and get busy. I think we are going to make it.