Our family had one TV when I was Vivi’s age. Black and white, no remote, rabbit ear antenna. It got three channels (four if there was a solar flare or something)–ABC, CBS, NBC. One TV, three kids. The rule was “whoever gets there first decides what we watch.”
This is why my dad says that he would get up on a Saturday, get dressed to go to work, and walk out in the living room to find me already awake and watching the test pattern on the TV. I loved me some Saturday morning cartoons and I had one narrow window to watch them. From 8 a.m. to 1:30. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Super Friends, Land of the Lost (my favorite!), Electro Woman and Dyna Girl, Far Out Space Nuts, Isis, Shazzam, Hong Kong Phooey.
By the time American Bandstand came on at 12:30, then Soul Train after that, we were sated. With brains full of brightly colored Sid and Marty Kroftiness, we wandered out into the rest of the weekend. Once the cartoons were over, we spent the weekend doing the stuff we could do any day. We rode bikes, played with the dogs, played on the swing set, explored the woods, read books, played games, made up stuff to fill our time. Ordinary stuff. Cartoons were only available for four hours; getting to watch them was a special opportunity.
I got to thinking about all of this last Saturday. Our whole family was in the backyard all morning. I was vacuuming the pool. G went down to the river and took cuttings from wild roses that grow down the bank. Vivi and Carlos played on the play fort with its slide, swinging bridge, rock climbing wall, fire pole, swings…you get the idea. But what struck me as strange is that my kids have no sense of “Saturday morning cartoons.” They can watch cartoons whenever they want. Not that we let them watch whenever they want…I mean, cartoons are always an option for them. If Carlos wants to watch Peppa Pig at 6 p.m. while I cook dinner, we have it On Demand. If Vivi wants to watch Littlest Pet Shop at 6 a.m., she knows to punch 186 on the remote. And keep the volume below 15.
My kids only get to play like that in the backyard for a few hours on weekends. I know, I know. Free range kids and all. We live on a river and have a pool (#goodproblemstohave). Even though both are fenced, I’ve always been nervous about turning the kids loose in the yard without keeping an eye on them. They get most of their Vitamin D on the deck where I can see them and put a lock between them and drowning. I spend money on sand so they will have dirt to play in when there is an acre of dirt at the bottom of the stairs. Duh.
When they are free to gallivant in the backyard, they look like this:
My goal for the summer is more Saturday mornings like this, and fewer Saturday mornings like this: