We hiked all over Brownsea Island on Saturday, and the beauty of the scenery was spoiled a little by the worry: would we be home in time for the World Cup Match between the UK and USA? What time is it? We’d better get going! No more meandering aimlessly until we’re tired enough to meander in a home-ish direction. Certainly no stopping in the town on the way home because we’ve spotted something interesting, as we would normally do! Saturday, we had an agenda, and it was all the TV’s fault.
We are a BIG soccer family. My brother and cousins all played for the National Under-16 Team in Trinidad, and we would have family soccer-watching Sundays with massive World Cup gatherings. I remember Pele and Lineker. I remember the stunningness of Maradonna and that backward pass, I totally understood the Offside Rule as a child and still spot an offside player now (my boys think I’m very cool when I shout “Offside!”). So watching the match was no hardship for me (apart from, you know, not winning!) But the last few world cups, when we didn’t have a TV, it just didn’t get to be as big a deal. We watched a few important matches with friends and family, and missed many. We didn’t mind, we just asked someone “Who won?”
Now, I will be the first to admit that it’s NICE to have a TV. We used to watch occasional DVDs on the computer, and having a big screen (Dude, it seems like the biggest thing in the house) is awesome. There are some really good shows out there. We gather round and snuggle, and laugh, and gasp at the awesomeness. And on Saturday, we groaned and cheered and gasped in time with millions.
But. My living room? Is TV-centric now. The sofa is a TV-Watching Zone. The boys have not played Chess since the TV arrived. They play less music. They draw and paint less. The TV sits there, Important and Large and Ugly.
Rainy days are now ‘Great Days for Watching TV’. We used to get a Taxi and head to the Cinema for a mega-experience but that’s not necessary anymore! Sometimes we’d go hiking, in the rain, weatherproofed and heading for a clifftop cafe for warming drinks; but no more, when the lure of the warm living room is so strong.
We used to be Bored, occasionally. The kind of boredom which made boys lie around saying “I’m soooo boooored” until suddenly they had an IDEA! And ended up building a mini skate park out of cardboard boxes or rifling through the cupboards till they found a box of cake mix we’d forgotten about. Our Summer Holidays used to keep the house in a state of messy creativeness and heaps of muddy clothes.
I miss it. I wonder how to bring back the spontaneity and creative mess of our non-television life. I’ve stocked up on crafty projects for the holiday, which begins in about six weeks here, and added to our Lego heap, but how much should I police the TV? How can I make it NOT the first thing the boys think of when they are bored? How can I encourage ‘Doing Nothing’, that important state of lying on the floor just thinking? Would Einstein and Schrödinger have conducted thought experiments, if they’d had TV? I can picture the eminent scientists now, thinking “I’m sooo boooored…” and getting up to switch on the TV.
Do I want my kids to watch and learn about science and mechanics and the great outdoors by watching… or would I rather they were sitting in a tree, wondering “What If…”
I wonder, I wonder… Or maybe I should just go see what’s on TV.
by Nan Sheppard
Photo graciously provided by (A3R) angelrravelor (A3R), through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved