Two weeks ago, my husband removed the television from the living room wall. He then placed it in our closet. It has remained there since. So yes, since that time, we have not had a functioning T.V. in our home.
Now, I would like to tell you that we did this for some deep philosophical purpose – you know, in support of some profound spiritual, insightful, Waldorf-inspired conviction…but that would be a lie.
And you KNOW I never lie.
Yes, I totally do.
But not about this, because I’d totally get caught. If I uttered the words “I removed the television from my house because I want my kids to knit and weave and make felt gnomes all day,” you all would know I was full of shit, because I’ve openly admitted my need for the electronic babysitter.
Plus, you know I am way too lazy for that wool felting thing.
So I’ll tell ya the truth. The truth is we removed the television because our son had the focus of, well, hmmm. How can I explain this?
Picture a river otter on methamphetamine. Now ask it to do algebra.
Yes, yes that’s it.
I may be exaggerating. Maybe. Very thin maybe.
And as I watched our little river otter dart around the world in maniacal inattention, I kept getting the feeling that the television was messing with him. Mac had the same feeling. It was a gut feeling.
We kept throwing around the T.V.-ejection idea, but we always came back to our own laziness. I mean, what about those movies we like to watch once every 6 months, or that vegetating time (which I keep saying I’m going to do but never actually accomplish)? What about 30 Rock? What ABOUT THE OFFICE people THE OFFICE? Don’t fuck with Dwight.
And Rocket LOVED that box. Loved it. Watched it every chance he got. Occasionally threw fits when we made him turn it off.
But as it often happens in my house, one day Mac got serious and just did it. He got his tools out. He took the sucker off the wall. He did it without word or warning.
To tell you the truth, I panicked a little. I mean, what the hell am I going to do with these kids when I need to cook? When I need a break? How I am going to plug them in for a few minutes?
Oh WOW, that sounded awful.
But I figured we’d give it a shot for the summer, to see how it goes.
And let me tell you how it’s gone: I may never have a television in my house again.
I am floored by the changes in my family. I cannot explain the depth of my amazement at what I’ve witnessed.
My son is a new person. He is calmer, more centered, more patient. He is a different child.
As I write this, he and Ava are playing Barbies in the other room. They have been doing so for the last hour. With pretty much no fighting.
I couldn’t make this up.
A couple days ago Rocket woke up at 5am. The whole house was asleep. I hadn’t fallen asleep until 2am, so it was OUT OF THE QUESTION that I would get up with him. My heart sank when I remembered I couldn’t tell him to watch T.V. quietly until I woke up. I told him “Rocket, check it out. I need to sleep. Everybody’s asleep. You need to tiptoe into the living room and play quietly until I wake up.” He said “Okay.” I thought “there is no way in hell this is ever going to work.”
I figured I’d get 10 minutes before he started launching himself off the couch onto something large and squeaky, waking up Georgia and therefore me.
Two hours later, at 7am, I awoke to Rocket holding Georgia by the hand, walking into my room saying “You want to see mama? You want ‘gook’ (nursing)?”
I was aghast. I asked him what he had been doing. He said “playing with my army men.” I almost fell over.
Holy mother of god that never would have happened people EVER EVER EVER.
Here are the other things that have blown my mind:
My kids fight less. They get so bored they actually play with each other.
They get so bored they actually play with their toys.
Ava reads the younger kids stories.
We spend time rolling around on the floor doing absolutely nothing because there’s nothing better to do. Last night we spent an hour on my bed (the 3 kids and I) taking turns making Georgia laugh by putting a book on our head and making it fall.
I thought they would harass and harangue me CONSTANTLY to be entertained. And they did, for the first day or two. And then they got over it. I haven’t heard a single complaint about the T.V. being gone, and I only hear “I’m bored” like once a day. The truth is, I am shocked. I had no idea it would be like this. I really thought the kids would flip out.
The energy in this house is 100% changed. I don’t know why. It just has. It’s like everybody has just been taken down a notch, and everybody’s calmer and more easy-going.
WE HANG OUT WITH EACH OTHER.
Yes, the house is a new level of messy. Toys are freaking everywhere.
Yes, there’s a lot more talking and singing and noise and playing, all the time. And it gets annoying.
And yes, this may be the best thing we’ve ever done.
An old friend of mine was an physician, trained in traditional Western medicine. Through a series of interesting circumstances, he ended up studying acupuncture in China. He now practices acupuncture and Western medicine, but leans toward acupuncture. When I asked him how he was converted to the practice of acupuncture (as he stuck needles in my ear), especially after all that training in the West, he responded, “I don’t believe in this shit, it just works.”
Yep. Pretty much.
I don’t believe in not having a T.V. But for us, it just works.
Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t some Zen rainbows and flowers and patchouli family all the sudden, but we’re damn better than we were before. And I like what I see…