All righty? All righty.
The TV and I have an interesting relationship. I'd prefer that we were just casual acquaintances and not intimate friends. But the TV is persistent. It seems to pursue us, enticing my family to spend time with it, crowding out other, better activities. It's a sticky, clingy friend that demands attention at inopportune times. And I would really rather it lived somewhere else, at a distance, so I could visit at my discretion.
We've never actually bought a TV, though we've owned three. (Not simultaneously.) And before you think I'm all high and mighty, let me tell you how thrilled I remember being to find a box of Winnie the Pooh vids at a garage sale for 50 cents apiece. I was pregnant with Tate or Gunnar, and they were the perfect length to pop in the VCR, plunk down the older kid/s, and take a power-nap on the couch while they were happily
Even when the boys could only watch videos or the one channel we received - and believe me I've seen my life's quota of Veggie Tales, and reruns of Blue's Clues and Bill Nye the Science Guy - the boys were hooked. So hooked that when they were 6, 4, and nearly 2 and the TV broke, little Gunnar would sit forlornly in front of the space where the TV had been and ask, pitifully, for Pooh Bear.
But he got over it. And it was spring and the boys were outside a lot. And they adapted. It was great! And why buy a new one? We were selling our house and moving. Fresh start. Hurray.
Then late that fall we were given another TV.
Okay, I can handle this. The boys aren't used to having a TV. It will be easy to manage their screen time. You'd think. But with Wyatt off to 1st grade, and Tate at a 1/2 day HoH preschool three times a week, Gunnar was lonely... and so it went.
And it escalated. Of course. And we let it.
Until the time we decided to homeschool. Which, in our house, does not mean sitting around a screen all day watching "educational programming." And it was hard.
But funny thing about that TV. It had a habit of breaking. Suddenly it just wouldn't work. The boys would go into a tizzy and make wild guesses about how much it would cost to repair or replace, and I would shoot them all down.
Read my lips: Not. One. Penny.
Pray about it. If God wants you to have a TV, He'll take care of it. And a few days later, the TV would start working again. No kidding. Happened several times.
But I never prayed about the TV.
And then one Sunday a friend was preaching, in place of the regular pastor. He worked with youth, and talked about how saturated they were with technology. Plugged in all the time. Texting people just feet away from them.
Certainly, technology can be a blessing. He - like my son - wears hearing aids. And think of computers, yah? But it can all distract us from better things and isolate us from real life, and real relationships.
I don't remember what he was actually preaching on, (sorry Steve!), but he said something along these lines
If you wonder if some particular gadget hinders you, if it's more of a curse than a blessing to you, ask God - if He doesn't want you to have it - to break it.Okay. So I prayed about the TV.
And it broke. It really broke. A totally blank screen and some alarming buzzy electrical noises convinced us all that this was The Big One.
So we did what quick-thinking homeschoolers do and took it out into the driveway, handed out safety goggles, and let the boys have at it.
Did you know that old TVs have a vacuum inside and will implode when you drop a heavy rock on them from the top of a step-ladder? And it's really loud? And sounds just like an explosion? Oh well, the neighbors probably think we're nuts anyway. I mean, we homeschool.
I was happy as a clam. The boys were forced into more creative play and reading, and I didn't have to follow through on a ridiculously complicated system of the boys earning tickets to buy screen time. And in a pinch we can watch DVDs on the computers. Win-win!
And that went on happily for quite awhile.
Until someone-who-shall-remain-nameless went behind my back and got an enormous TV that had been rejected from his dad's rental. And put a scratch in van door getting it. And the remote had been lost so there was no way to work it (so he had to buy a new remote), and the sound didn't work so there was no way to hear it (so he had to buy speakers, which were lousy, and very challenging for Tate to comprehend). And did I mention it was huge? Also, it had a very special several-minutes-long selection from The Museum of Static it insisted on playing every time it was turned on. Very nice.
And in spite of promises that it would stay in the garage and only come in for special occasions, it was soon installed in the family room along with a contraband PS2.
And maybe your kids enjoy playing games together and have no problem turning it off when their allotted time is up, and get along marvelously. Mine do not. Video-gaming brings out the worst in them. It starts with negotiating and then the tension and the voices rise, and it escalates into bickering, yelling, occasional tears, and sometimes even physical violence.
And then I remembered. And started praying about it again.
And guess what happened again...
Lastly, if you disagree with me about TV... feel free.
But if you're curious, I dare you to go to your library and check out The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn and read it.
Go on. I double-dog-dare-ya.