Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Summer Without Cable

As I type, there is an oldish woman in pink rolled socks, matching button down shirt, and inappropriately short shorts exercising on local TV. Her K-Swiss shoes are so blindingly white that I seriously doubt she has ever worn them outside of said chair. I'm pretty sure that the William Tell Overture is playing softly in the background (this is not a joke). About 20 feet away from her there are three additional oldish – ok, old – women who are mimicking these chair exercise moves. The whole package is rather soothing- her voice, the electric blue backdrop, the music, her shockingly bronze legs. I get that there is an audience for this show and I'm not it, but my other options are, if you can believe it, even stranger than this.

Of the fifteen or so channels we

Hold on. Interrupt that sentence for this quote from the exerchair show: “If you've had a hip replacement also, watch out.” Yes, I'm still watching it.

Ok, so of the fifteen or so channels we have this summer at our sublet apartment, three of them are University of Michigan channels that seem to play commencements on a loop. I watched one of these channels once when I saw a show about teaching science to different grade levels but otherwise they are useless to me. The local news is chock full of inflammatory stories about things like Chrysler union workers drinking in a parking lot on their lunch breaks (a multi-WEEK story). We have two home shopping channels that are often advertising things that cost less than $20 and can be paid for in two installments. If it's less than $20 and you can't afford it in one installment, STOP SHOPPING.

I thought that not having cable would be a good opportunity to test myself at TV-less parenting. Before Jack was born, I read articles, heard other moms' opinions, reflected on my own and my husband's childhoods, and I decided that TV was not evil, per se, but should probably be limited. Then he was born. When he was brand new, Jack couldn't do much of anything (shocker). He also slept through a lot of ruckus, and I was home alone all day while Mike worked, so the TV was good background noise to keep me sane. Then, when he got a little bigger and more interested in his surroundings, we noticed that the Colbert Report could sometimes keep his attention so we could have dinner without a breastfeeding intermission. One day, PBS was magically and mysteriously turned on and there was Dinosaur Train, a cartoon that could have been produced by Ross Gellar, were he a real person and into producing children's television shows. Suddenly, at seven or eight months old, and my kid turned to look at a television if I so much as picked up the remote control. I wasn't too worried about it (yet) because he still paid attention for just a few minutes at a time and preferred rolling across the room to sitting still, but I looked forward to the move to Michigan and a cable-less house to encourage other means of distraction for difficult moments with Jack.

Turns out, two of our channels are primarily preschool programming, so there that went. Plus, we now have Netflix and Hulu Plus that we can stream to the TV. It's every episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! And He-Man, Master of the Universe! Mom Fail.

I've come to the conclusion that I can't keep my kid from TV. I mean, I could, I guess I just can't get myself too hot and bothered about it. I'm back where I started, thinking that I will just have to use my best judgment and decide how much is too much and what is appropriate (although we are not too big on the general consensus on appropriate in our house. I'm sure that will come up a lot in this blog). I just hope that tween shoes improve before he gets to that stage. There is no way in hell I am watching anything that currently airs on the Disney Channel for that age group. 
 An oldie but a goodie.


  1. OMG. You need to stop blogging about my life. Colbert, check. Yo Gabba Gabba!, check. He-Man, check. But you forgot Thundercats (HO!).
    First of all, I've totally seen that show. Her legs are really weird.
    B, we are cableless by choice yet between antenna PBS, comedy central andNetflix we still watch way too much tv. And it's possible that video games occupy quite a bit more of my husband's time than they otherwise would. Consider yourself warned.
    Lastly, what happened to You Can't Do That On Television and Mr. Wizard? Heck, even Are You Afraid of the Dark? The tween shows my stepson watches are NOT okay. The kids are all obnoxious, awful to each other, and entirely without adult supervision. Nickelodeon fail. At least Yo Gabba Gabba has positive messages even if it is an acid flashback.

  2. Kristen! Best news ever...starting Monday, Nickelodeon is rerunning a bunch of 90's shows in the middle of the night. I don't know how we will get to them, as two cable-free people, but we'll find a way. I totally forgot about Mr. Wizard!

    I agree that there are so so many bratty teens/tweens on TV right now. Besides the attitude, the kids aren't funny AT ALL.