A TV Household

A TV Household

by Andrea Rennick

Sometimes I worry about the TV watching in this household. You see, I grew up in the Golden Age of television — the seventies. There wasn’t a huge variety like there is today, but what there was, was good, despite the plaid bellbottoms. Now, we can have 102 channels and still not have anything to watch.

So it was with some trepidation that my husband and I wrestled with the decision about getting a satellite dish. After all, there was a lot of new research indicating that maybe we shouldn’t even own a TV, let alone turn it on in the presence of our youngsters and their developing brains. We’d had a dish before and spent the first week or so up until 1 am watching everything (and I mean everything) that we had missed in the few years we had suffered under Country Cable.

For you city types, that’s the three channels that come in with only an antenna. Four, if we counted the French channel.

We got the dish. We got the dish just a week after Emma, my youngest, had seen a commercial for Treehouse TV, a channel geared specifically towards toddlers and broadcasting every educational show you could think of, and some you didn’t know were possible. We got that dish and the first channel we tried out after making sure it worked was Treehouse. It never left the station for the rest of the day.Later that evening, Emma’s eyes were slightly glazed and she turned her head just enough to the side, without quite removing her gaze from the tube and said, “Thank you daddy for buying me Treehouse” in a wistful voice.

Okay, we’re working on that one, but the quiet time sure is nice.

The children I was really worried about were the teenagers. Would we be subjected to all manner of music videos every time they held the remote? Would we be watching endless entertainment gossip and fashion shows? Would we be subjected to half-hour stints of sitcoms written to best showcase the talents of the most recent 15 minutes of fame comedy star? And how many reality televisions shows can you watch in one evening anyway? That’s what I was really concerned about.

It’s mid-afternoon here now. Emma is taking a nap and her siblings have control of the remote. It is mid-afternoon, the time of day where talk shows and soap operas rule the airways, and what are my precious impressionable teenage daughters watching?

The Food Network.

They are watching the food network and writing down recipes. Meaghan, my eleven year old, is starting to become a master chef. I have been buying a twenty-pound bag of flour every other month since we got our dish. So help me, my hips cannot take much more of this.

Later I know my son will insist on watching CNN. This will be closely followed by MSNBC and any network news he can squeeze in. This is partly from interest in news and partly so even later still this evening, he can laugh even louder at the proliferation of political satire shows. This hour has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer’s Monday Report, Bill Maher and more names I don’t recognise.

This is in addition to the many permutations the Discovery channel has spawned. We have watched so many specials on the ancient Egyptians; the children know and recognise the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities.

And if that weren’t bad enough, somewhere around suppertime we will gather around the phosphorus glow and watch game shows. Not just any game shows but the old reruns on Game Show Network, the ones with the original hosts.

I settled down one long afternoon to watch a movie with them, O Brother where Art Thou? This is loosely based on Homer’s Odessy, something I feel the kids should know about, so while the opening credits rolled, I asked if they were familiar with the storyline already.

My teenage daughter Sarah shot me a withering glance, “Duh, Mom, of course we are.” I breathed a sigh of relief and she continued. “We saw it on The Simpsons!”

Maybe tomorrow I’ll suggest we read a book instead.

Andrea Rennick is a homeschooling mom of four children, ranging in age from 3 to 16. A sense of humour is a big part of dealing with the ins and outs of her day. She can also be found at her website, www.atypicalife.net. Reach her at andrea@atypicalife.net