Tag Archives: TV

Is There Anything ON?

I got home from work today to discover the girls playing Sonic All Stars on the Playstation that’s been broken for almost two years. G had fixed it…Hooray! While they duked it out with controllers, Carlos played matching and sorting games on his iPad mini, just like the one they use in school.

42284126-zoomer-puppy-lilac-01After dinner, Carlos played with his robot puppy. Yes, Santa brought Vivi a Zoomer puppy–the world’s loudest, most annoying toy. Then G went out THE NEXT DAY and bought Carlos one for his birthday. Now we have TWO of the world’s loudest, most annoying toy. I got on my notebook and downloaded some Bobbsey Twins books to Vivi’s new Kindle from our Kindle Unlimited subscription. Vivi clicked a little too soon and sent The Boxcar Children: Cupcake Caper to my old Kindle (not my new one), but I moved it between devices. While I was at it, I downloaded the Fitbit app to my phone.

So we’ve got one kid with a robot puppy, one kid reading books that fly through the air in seconds, and one kid downstairs watching football and talking to her friends on her phone.

And right in the middle of it, G is setting up a Roku…because lord knows, we need some distraction up in this house.

He fiddled with it and mashed buttons and typed in secret codes. I turned off the robot dog, got the Bobbsey Twins in their proper spots, synced my Fitbit, charged my Kindle and phone. I got the kids in their pajamas and teeth brushed. G read Carlos a story then sat down on the sofa with the Roku remote and a galaxy of entertainment at his fingertips.

He started scrolling while I played Scrabble. He scrolled.

And he scrolled.

And he scrolled.

My friend, Saralyn, posted on FB that her fella was setting up a Roku. I posted updates to her status every fifteen minutes….”still scrolling.”

G scrolled past movies, British TV, the NASA channel, the documentary channel (I even saw Spencer flash by for “How to Survive a Plague.”), Ninja Turtles, Pandora, Brasil TV.

He kept on a scrollin’.

TWO HOURS. Paralyzed by choices.

Finally? At almost 11 p.m., he settled on a show.
MV5BMTMzMDUwNDQ3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDQ0ODQ2._V1._SX450_SY299_Space: 1999 from 1975. It’s a British sci-fi series starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. It’s set in a distant future of cardboard computer terminals with three blinking red lights. Apparently, all the futuristic technology of that time had been focused on developing breathable pantsuits for the active man.

I gawped at the clunky visual effects. I snorted at the dialogue.

I looked over and saw that G was fast asleep on the couch. Seventeen minutes into the episode.

There I was, laughing at the outdated idea of technology from 1975, while surrounded by gadgets and gizmos that they hadn’t even dreamed of forty years ago. All so commonplace now that they put us to sleep.

At least that’s what I told the robot puppy before I went to bed.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

1975saturdayOur 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:

Sometimes you need to tie a zebra to the swing with a pink feather boa.  You just DO.

Sometimes you need to tie a zebra to the swing with a pink feather boa. You just DO.


Dirty feet are happy feet!

Dirty feet are happy feet!


Giving his sister a little shove…with his head.

My goal for the summer is more Saturday mornings like this, and fewer Saturday mornings like this:

test pattern

She Won’t Remember Any of This

Last night, we kept the TV on Max & Ruby.  I grilled hamburgers and boiled up some corn on the cob.  Carlos stomped around in one shoe while saying, “Cars!  Shoe!  Banana!  Hug!  All Done!”  Vivi and I made banana muffins with the new mixer.  She and G read a book called “100 Ways to Make Your Dog Smile.”  She asked the difference between a terrier and a bird dog, so I told her all about hunting dogs–terriers, pointers, sight hounds, retrievers.  I told her about the German Shorthair Pointer we had when I was her age, a dog named “Circles” for the three aligned spots at the base of her tail.  The TV sat silent.  Vivi made up songs about my favorite colors and belted them into a plastic Dora the Explorer microphone.  We packed her lunch for camp the next day–she chose strawberry milk, sour cream and onion potato chips, carrots, applesauce, ham and cheese sandwich and a couple of banana muffins for snack.

We didn’t talk about tornadoes.  Just like after Boston, when we didn’t talk about bombs, or Newtown when we didn’t talk about guns.  Or all the other days before that, when we kept the TV silent, those days where G and I shared long looks over the top of the children’s heads and whispered sadnesses behind closed doors.

lairFriday was her last day of kindergarten.  When I asked her what she thinks is her biggest accomplishment this year, she chirped, “READING!”  This weekend, G bought her a big stack of Junie B Jones books about kindergarten and first grade.  I think we both assumed that we would be reading them to her, but Vivi has other ideas, grand ideas.  She built herself a hidey hole under my desk on Saturday morning.  She filled it with two warm blankets, a pack of gum, a box for treasures, a couple of stuffed animals and her stack of books.  She calls it her “lair.”  She’s already tearing up the books and I am online ordering more, like feeding coal into a roaring furnace.  The Magic School Bus is in the mail.

Our town has sirens.  Our brick house has a basement.  There is a small room down there with cinder block walls and no windows.  She knows that when storms get dangerous, we all sit in there.  She needs to know that, but she doesn’t need to know…this.

I see her reading in her lair, cozy in her Sonic pajamas, with Pengy tucked under her arm and a bountiful lunch in the fridge, all waiting on tomorrow.  One phrase comes to mind:  “Shield the joyous.”

I haven’t participated in any kind of religion for 20 years, but after Richard died, my friend Robin gave me a red leather Book of Common Prayer from the Episcopal church.  She knows how I love words and poetry.  She wanted me to have the words that were said at our wedding and at his memorial.  What a gift Robin has been to my life.  There is one prayer in particular that she gifted to me, as I had spent so many sad nights alone in my house.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, sooth the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

Many times (even if I edited it some to match my beliefs), I have read this prayer for Compline before bedtime and choked upon the words “weep,” “sick,” “dying,” depending on the time of my life.  Now I read it and choke back tears on “shield the joyous.”  This night, I am a mother and one of the few things I can do in this life is shield the joy of my children from the weary truths of this suffering world.

It can’t last forever.  There will be a time when Vivi and Carlos are old enough to know.  There will be times when we turn the TV on and set them in front of it so that they can KNOW.  I remember a time like that when I was 10 years old–1978 and the Jonestown Massacre.  My parents watching the news, as cameras panned over silent fields of corpses, bloating in the jungle heat.  Poisoned by their own hands because their leader told them to.  My mother thought that they should turn the TV off, that we were too young to watch.  I vividly remember my father saying firmly, “No.  You kids need to know this can happen.  You need to know about this kind of bullshit so you don’t get caught up in it.  Sit down and watch.”  He was right.  I’ve never forgotten it.

As Vivi was dancing off to bed last night, a thought hit me:  “She won’t remember any of this.”  She is turning six in a couple of weeks.  When I think back to six, I don’t remember much, just a general idea about life and how it was.  A couple of school memories.  A few friends.  There are a few pictures, somewhere at my mom’s house.  So Vivi won’t remember this day, those banana muffins, the songs we sang.  She won’t remember the tornadoes in Oklahoma because I shielded her from that.  I hope that she remembers that she was loved every second of her life by people who put a lot of effort into keeping her safe and healthy and happy.  I hope she knows that we kept watch over her while she slept, all for love’s sake.

The Reverend Lauren McDonald has written a lovely meditation on “Shield the Joyous” on her blog, Leaping Greenly Spirits.  She’s another one of those super awesome kids from the Governor’s Honors 1985!