When Grey went off to college in the fall, Nora and I became empty nesters and we did a little house reorg. I’ll let Nora take it from here – this is verbatim from the family group text:
I moved our TV downstairs so dad could watch football while working down there. He loved it. No surprises. But there is no TV upstairs in the library now, so I dragged dad to Best Buy to get a replacement one. Something similar, nothing fancy. Dad got into Best Buy and he became a man possessed. It was like a werewolf molting. He walked up to a sales clerk and manic-ly blurted out, “TV…no smaller than 50 inches” his eyes darting around. I was stunned. He announces the old TV will move back upstairs but he needs something BIG and amazing downstairs and he’s willing to pay for it…and he NEEDS this. It was like listening to a pregnant woman in labor pleading for drugs. Who knew he’d been suffering in silence all these years? Who knows why he waited for you to go to college before he let loose? I thought visiting Aunt Susan adequately met his big TV needs. Now we own a huge TV and have joined the rest of America. Don’t worry, I still don’t have a phone.”
The fam’s response (Grey, Pippa, then me):
While I’m truly in awe of anyone who can describe me as a molting werewolf and a desperate woman in labor in the same text, the explanation is actually quite simple: With the kids launched, there is no one left to corrupt.
Much that is broadcast over the boob tube is garbage, or worse, degenerate. There’s some good stuff too, but it’s harder to find, and not nearly as beguiling to young minds.
The same can be true for money. While not a problem for our family 🙂 other parents have to work hard to counter the corrosive power of wealth:
Growing Up TV Poor
With the benefit of many years of hindsight, I now have a deep appreciation for my childhood spent in a house with a perennially undersized – and frequently broken – television. It never had the allure of being forbidden, but it was typically blah enough of an experience to make it a distant second to reading or playing outdoors.
So, now that the kids are young adults, did the ‘deprived’ upbringing yield any fruit?
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Home for Christmas break, I ask Pippa why she is on her phone all the time.
“I’m reading,” she says.
“Who reads on their phone?” I respond.
“I do. Look, I have over 130 tabs open of different books I’m reading.”
I’m not sure whether to be impressed that she has started so many books or worried about her ADHD tendencies. I’m going to go with impressed.
This month, she flew to Thailand for a semester abroad. The Sustainable Development program she is participating in is made up of three innovative “experiential learning” blocks that take her on the road for three weeks at a time. She’s been told that she has to leave her phone in her room during these trips.
I think I was more distressed to hear this news than she was – no texts or calls for three weeks! She, on the other hand, seems to have plenty of distractions that muffle the siren call of TikTok, including this trip to Huay Tung Tao Waterfall just northwest of Chiang Mai:
I’m not similarly distracted, so I’m watching the NFL playoffs on my new big flatscreen TV. While ‘working’ in the basement, of course.