For the last 10 years, almost half of which we weren’t married or even dating, my husband and I did not own a television. I didn’t even have a laptop, and so it was rare and fun to plug something in to the external dvd player hooked up to the laptop (before we even had internet out here) to snuggle up and watch a movie.
Last Christmas though, Uncle went all out and bought the girls a new TV. It was huge. It was new. You could STREEEEEEAM! I’ve been logged into my sister’s Disney account (yes I also had my moms Netflix account, however we got kicked off of there not so long ago, which was fine as we never watched it anyway) and Primrose and Marlena have been able to watch endless hours of classic entertainments. There are also other free “apps” through this tv like PBS kids and some random other things where we can watch things like Mrs. Doubtfire. However, it’s rare we get to watch anything that isn’t an animated kid movie.
We love animation. We love kid movies. But how did we let our children become in control of the tv? Whenever Bob or I try to watch something we choose, if there isn’t yelling and screaming about it, you better believe there is a non-stop wrestling match, mole picking, in your face laughing hysterically, climbing a human jungle gym thing that starts happening. It has been very frustrating. At night, after the girls go to bed, sometimes we sneak movies in (our recent views are “The Godfather” and “Ocean of Fear”). Now, we understand, some movies, like those mentioned, are not suitable for children, but like I had also mentioned, we love animation. We have the Studio Ghibli collection. We have movies by Tomm Moore. We rent movies from the library. The options are plentiful.
I was scared and strict when we first set up the tv. I didn’t want it to interfere with our daily life and take over. I didn’t want the girls to get TVitis. But slowly it crept its way in. “Oh my, look at how many chores I got done.” “oh my, look at that, I just went poop all ALONE.” “Oh my, let me just put this movie on while I make dinner, talk to your dad, try to do some work.” And little by little my limit grew as well as my children’s eyes. I knew that when they were finished with an episode or a movie, the tears would flow. So why not watch one more while I get things done to prepare for the emotional overload?
I have let this damned thing become the babysitter of my children. But step aside Mrs. Doubtfire! (no doubt, I still do love that movie) Mama is back. Country mama.
We have talked it over in the house and we are sick of it! Sick of the emotional rollercoaster the girls face, even after watching only a half hour! Their poor tiny selves cannot handle it! We are sick of not being able to watch anything but 101 Dalmatians! And again, I do love that movie (but not for 5 days in a row), and I adore Cruella De Vil, but I cannot take my tiny 3 year old yelling at her even tinier 1 year old “you idiot!” any longer. We are sick of missing our kids and having them zombie out just so we can get some things done. It’s just a fucking excuse. It’s a way for me to basically say, “stay out of my way, I’m too busy to deal with you”. We still get stuff done with them around. Maybe we need to lower our exceptions on what “gets done”. Or maybe we need to stop lying to ourselves are realize that just yesterday Primrose and I baked a quiche, two dozen cookies, a loaf of bread, and made humus and soup! We cleaned up the kitchen (as best we could) and I watered all the animals while the girls played together in the house.
Our decision came down to this….
We are getting rid of all the streaming. It’s just not good for the brain. If we feel like we can handle watching a movie, a show, or anything for entertainment or education, for kids and/or adults, we will all sit down together, sometime between the hours of 5 pm and 7pm, and watch it as a family event. A way for us to become closer and spend time together, rather than to live separate lives.
We have implemented this already for the last 3 or 4 days. And I can tell you the emotions in the house are already so much more stable. Its incredible what a little change can do.