Tuesday, May 01, 2007

TV or not TV

The children lost TV. Note, I say "lost TV" not "lost the TV". I am hoping they are not the kind of children who are careless with things. I really hate that in a person. They lost permission to watch TV because of some dark crime they committed which I cannot now remember. It must have been a good one because I unplugged the video and DVD player to ram home the point. I was not at all influenced by my mother's observation on her most recent visit: "You let them watch a lot more TV than you used to, don't you?" I denied this and promptly issued my fatwa. I would have shoved the set itself into a cupboard but I might run mad if I lost BBC News 24, so I hid the zappers in case temptation struck. I find it always helps, if temptation knocks, to forget where you put your zapper. Life is less complicated that way. Frankly, I have enough complications.

The good thing about banning TV; you move straight to the moral high ground. I do not get to go there very often. It is pretty and I like it. You drop small shiny pebbles into conversation: "Of course, the children aren't watching television at the moment. They're learning Latin." In reality, my children would rather lie glazed in front of the television than do almost anything else. If you offered them a golden ticket to a green cheese, pitted moon, they would probably say: "Great. When the programme is over."

The bad thing about losing TV; they insist on making their own entertainment. If that is how they carried on in the past, I am amazed anybody made it to adolescence. I stumbled out of the bedroom to go get the wailing baby. My husband is away again which always helps to ramp up the morning mayhem. It means I do not get to say: "Listen, she is singing your song," and nudge him gently out of bed. My six-year-old was hefting the baby along the corridor to me, staggering slightly, both of his arms wrapped around her sleep-suited body, unable quite to see over her head. This was kind and brotherly of him. Coincidentally, fishing the baby out of her cot, had freed up her mattress. It could join the other three mattresses the boys had carefully laid, end to end, down the very steep staircase in our rented house. He handed her to me and trotted back down the corridor. "Do not even think about it," I croaked as he shimmied into his nylon sleeping bag. He perched himself at the top of the Cresta Run. Grinned and launched himself into outer space. I do not know how the pair of them were not splattered against the wooden door at the bottom of the stairs like Warner Brothers cartoon characters. After all my concern about him bashing his head at school, I had this vision of carrying him unconscious, his head swathed in a knob of bandages, into class. The pyjama-clad four-year-old took my hand. "I don't go down in the sleeping bag, mummy," he said, "I just go like this."

47 comments:

sunshine said...

Did you then figure "oh, what the heck" and launch yourself down the mattress slide too? Almost sounds like fun!

Anonymous said...

Is this to avoid them seeing the new TV programme which will feature their little visages when the 'reality show' camera crew arrive ?

Come to think of it, have you warned the other villagers ?

And is Rilly Super at the copyright infringement implication of the working title being 'Strife in the North' ? I think we should be told..

Anonymous said...

One of the other benefits of not having a television [in my own experience] is it improves one creativity and imagination no end...

beta mum said...

My two like to appropriate large cardboard boxes as sledges to wear out the stair carpet.
Next time I'll suggest sleeping bags, I reckon they'd do less damage.

Kaycie said...

When my older kids were little I would come out of the kitchen or the bedroom to find every sofa cushion and chair cushion in my house arranged like an island in the middle of the living room with the children on top of it. They would jump from cushion to cushion, pushing each other all the while. When one of them touched the floor, there was much screeching and laughing. "Hot lava! Hot lava, burning me up!"

Can you tell I didn't let them watch much tv?

Lisa said...

I read your blog almost every day, but never post but this is just so coincidental. I was discussing with an old friend yesterday (!) how I have fantastic childhood memories of sliding down the stairs in our old house on a mattress and how I'm sure kids today are probably too busy playing video games to think of it .. yes really !

AlisonK said...

I used to slide down the stairs at home (head first, on my stomach) and my OH and his brother used to send their little sister down on a sofa cushion....

mutleythedog said...

I'm always confiscating TV and computer time and forgetting why later. How long should it go on is the next question? Bet you've forgotten your original timing!

Children all do horribly dangerous things at the drop of a hat. Its even worse when they try to be helpful by making tea and such like - why mine aren't horribly scarred all over I do not know.

Anonymous is particularly strange today - I wonder if it is that time of the month?

lisa said...

My husband loves to toss out the phrase " oh! put a helmet on" whenever there is another news report of something we did in our childhood that is simply too "dangerous" for kids today.
the other lisa

The Grocer said...

Just wait till they are trying it on wheels with the cushions tied to the front.

sunshine said...

I am saddened when I think of the fun things we did as kids which are not safe anymore. We walked to the little store about 8 blocks away for penny candy. When I was 10, I would take long walks alone in the nearby woods, climb down a fairly high cliff, and wade in the creek below.

We were not allowed to even own a TV. Video "anything" had not been invented yet. We explored. We gathered bees and shook the jars until they weren't bees anymore (be kind -- I was only 7 at the time!)

My parents didn't have to worry about kidnap, rape and violence. They knew I would be home for food! (Had they known about the cliff climbing, they'd have had a fit, however).

I am glad I have no young children, now. The world is not as available to them in a safe way. In this way, wifey, Northumberland may offer your kids a childhood like mine! Lucky them!

jane said...

Stair sledging is fantastic fun but not allowed or encouraged much in my childhood home. Instead we did our dangerous stuff on a far more sneaky basis - my brother and his mates converted an old sideboard, which had been put outside in our parents' garden, into a den. They filled it with straw etc., to make it more comfy, and because it was dark at the far end my younger brother thought it would be a good idea to take in a candle and light it. You've guessed the rest - luckily I pulled him out of there before he lost all of his hair and both of his eyebrows. Ah, happy days.

When we're in nostalgic mood my husband and I compare scars and reminisce about how we got them - "this one was when I got impaled on a sharp tree branch", "oh, and this was when I rode my bike into a pile of paving slabs" etc. Our parents must have thought we were fantastically well behaved kids because they never got to hear about any of our daring japes, which is probably a good thing now I come to think about it.

Marianne said...

Ah, the moral high ground. I make a visit there occasionally too, but quickly come back down to earth. It's far too lonely up there.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

My son spent last Christmas Day in hospital. He had one of those tv's on the wall so he could lie, be very ill and watch tv. When Father Christmas showed up with masses of presents (not many were on the ward ergo extra presents for the sorry few), he almost had to dance up and down in front of my son to get his attention...it was a particularly good episode of Tom and Jerry. I think he must watch too much tv...

mountainear said...

Boys! Don't ya just love 'em? Fire, explosions, arrows, anything on wheels, sex, drugs and rock and roll....At least when they were sitting watching TV you knew where they were and what they were up to.

Anonymous said...

I now feel even more strongly that I had a deprived childhood..yes, plenty of day-long trips in the woods, lots of playing in the river all spoiled, spoiled I tell you, by living in a bungalow...

@themill said...

Try it, it's great fun!

Mike said...

we used to slide down the banisters in our house, or encourage my brother to "climb higher" up a 12 foot tree, which he then jumped off. He never broke anything!
Another great trick to frighten our mother was to rub raspberries on our faces and come running down the garden, screaming..she always thought it was blood!
WITN, you write so eloquently, and bring back many happy memories.

Daniel said...

My brothers and I (one a year younger, one a year older) used to slide down the bannister too. We lived in one of those big old houses, with a large foyer, and a "grand" staircase, sort of grand, anywaty. Below the railing was an upright piano. When my mother saw us sliding down the bannister, she was horrified, and had a formal discussion with us about the great danger of falling off, and crashing into the piano, and causing great damage, and possible severe injury. The way she described it, the danger seemed very real. So after that, we never slid down the bannister again, when she was anywhere nearby.

Isobel said...

I used to propel (at some speed)a scooter -along the broad top of a chunky and reasonably wide sand stone wall. I was joined in this escapade by my friend - daughter of the local minister- who saw us from the top window of the Manse and ,affecting complete calm so as not to startle us, wandered down the lane to stop us. The drop off the wall was significant-onto a disused railway line.Kids do some horrendous things!

Isobel said...

By the way - how does anonymous 2:20 manage to imbue the word"villagers" with such menace? Reminiscent of the "local people" of League of Gentlemen fame!

debio said...

The trouble with the moral high ground is that the air gets very thin up there.
I kept my daughter away from TV for the first three years of her life (she didn't have a McDonald's until she was seven - no regrets there) but being chief entertainments' officer on top of everything else left me breathless.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Isobel, we're not menacing at all and nothing at all like the League of Gentlemen, thank you.

For that, you have to go to the Cambridgeshire Fens.

occasional northerner said...

Fertiliser bags down snowy hills (assuming the whole concept of a snowy hill is not removed from childhood by global warming) works well as a sliding source of danger too.

Isobel said...

mutterings and meanderings
I did not imply that the indigenous population of Northumbria were in any way odd or defective-only that the aforementioned anonymous speaks in a rather unfriendly way-as if the local lot are a body to be contended with rather than to be made friends with.

The Secretary said...

My sons had a pop up Pokemon tent (don't ask) that they used to slide down the stairs in - 4 teenagers, three storey house, they appropriately called this activity 'Death Tent'. I have thrown the tent away.

Came home yesterday to find that they had the box from my new carpet washing VAX to go down the stairs in - called 'Death Box'.

Why do I bother!! Give them the remote control - it's safer and doesn't involve hours in casualty.

Anonymous said...

isobel, sorry, poppet, but you may not have realised I wasn't being entirely serious... You have to go over to Rilly Super to make some of these connections..

It is like the Yin and Yang of life.. In fact it is the villagers who have my sympathy, as they are having yet more of their relaxed and happy-go-lucky way of life exposed to outside scrutiny.

That said, I still think it would be interesting to do an al fresco 'Big Brother' in Northumberland..

Isobel said...

anonymous,sweetie - I have occasionally cast an eye there - nothing I read alters my original observation about the lack of friendliness your comment seemed to enshrine.I assume of course that you are the same anonymous.

Daniel said...

I made the comment above about sliding down the bannister. I have another story:

My 2 brothers and I found and collected pieces of old scrap wood and lumber. We got a hammer and some old nails and built a club house. It was just a teetering, tottering mass of boards, a sort of open air shanty, but we could climb on top, about 12 feet off the ground. Then we got some twine from Mother, and I braided it to make a tough "Tarzen" vine. My much older brother tied it to the Walnut tree branch hanging over our club house. Then we would take turns, swinging down off the top, onto the ground, like Tarzan. One day, the neighbor boy up the street, Conway, saw us playing and he wanted to play too. So we hoisted him up to have a go at it. Unfortunately, the club house was 12 feet high, but the Tarzan vine had about 15 feet of slack, and Conway grabbed onto the very end, and he went "splat!" After that, our father got very angry and made us tear down the clubhouse. (Then, while we were tearing it down, I stepped on a rusty nail and had to get a tetanus shot).

daniel said...

p.s
just for the sake of tying up loose ends, when Conway struck the ground, there was alot of screaming and crying and pain, and wild accusations and recriminations flying over the neighborhood phone circuits, but no actual bones were broken.

jane said...

My next-door neighbour and I were best friends from aged two, by the time we were ten we were inseparable. Her bedroom and mine shared the adjoining walls of our semi-detached house and below our bedroom was the communal porch roof. We developed a sort of morse code knocking to signal each other (pretending to be asleep when our respective parents ever came up to investigate the mysterious noises), and when we were sure the houses were asleep or very early in the morning, we could climb out of our windows, shin down the pole holding the porch roof up and have fabulous little adventures (getting back was a problem though). The only thing that eventually put a stop to it was her Dad coming home from night-shift on his bike - after that discovery we were in trouble for many, many weeks. Perhaps if we'd had TVs in our bedrooms we would have stayed in more.....?

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Motheratlarge said...

Great! Just what I wanted to hear. Thank you for showing me what I can look forwards to in a few years' time.

Being an optimist, for months have been consoling self that whatever the next stage brings has to be easier than where we're at. When my daughter was tiny and waking every few hours I clung to the hope things would get better.

They have, but of course I forgot about the other challenges that being a toddler brings.

Your posting has taught me better. I will rail no longer at my one-year-old daughter's determination to ransack the flat, pulling down lamps, ripping apart books, emptying bins and tearing up tax returns.

Instead, I will content myself with the fact that this is a small hiatus before she gets big enough to turn the place into a giant adventure playground.

Then again, maybe girls are different?

http://motheratlarge.com

Motheratlarge said...

Oops. Entered site details wrongly. Here they are again:

http://www.motheratlarge.com

Self employed mum x said...

My husband and I were talking to our children while out on a short walk last night about the things we did when we were young, my favourite was sitting on top of the chute - you know the old fashioned ones with the slates of wood around the top to create a box. We used to sit on top of the box. It was about 20 feet high. If my mother ever caught me or if my children were ever to do anything like that!! Those were the days when playgrounds had good all fashioned concrete to fall on. Now you get nothing over 6 feet high and nice soft ground or wood shavings to save your fall.

jane said...

What a great collection of hair-raising tales of childhood mischief - these days our poor kids aren't even allowed to play conkers at school in case "it could put someone's eye out". Is this because everyone sues if anyone gets injured, even in the fair "wear and tear" of life, or because we parents have memories of our own dangerous antics so worrying that we are trying to prevent our own kids from getting hurt? It takes a particular kind of courage to know that your child is doing something a bit risky and not forbid it - but sometimes they need to find out such stuff for themselves. I always struggled to find the fine line between wrapping my kids in cotton wool and total negligence, and unfortuantely they've got the scars (mentally probably as well as physically) to prove it!

mind the gap said...

When I was 5 our black and white tv broke. My parents never replaced it. After school was spent running around outside with or without my friends, riding my bike, climbing trees, falling off my bike, falling out of trees. The evenings were chatting to my parents over dinner and doing my homework. The only time we saw tv was when we went to my mum's best friend on a saturday to watch top of the pops. Granted this was ahem, 20 years ago, but just shows what can be done without a telly. Yuor kids will thank you for it later on.

Minx said...

I had a swing when I was a child. It was a bit of old rope tied around a tree that leant out over a quarry. I also had a climbing frame - two twenty foot fir trees that you could leapt between (I leapt into hospital twice with broken arms). My see-saw was a rotten plank in a crumbling barn.

I salute your children with their death tents, their raspberry blood and their sleeping bag Cresta run. It never did me any harm and I hate TV now. My children on the other hand....

Mike said...

I wrote about the raspberry blood, forgot to say that my Mum was a nurse!
Every now and again, I have the courage to say to my kids "have fun" instead of "be careful crossing the road", but it's so hard.
However, my parents used to talk of fun robbing orchards, cycling all over the place etc; i think every generation is getting less innocent fun, and more static.
Finally, every pram I ever got from Santa had wheels removed and was turned into a sled for snowtime, resulting in me having the same list every year!

mutleythedog said...

Hi Wifey -just quickly the parcel of erotic magazines has been lost in the post - I shall have to re-order the special ones from Amsterdam -I hope you can wait...My friend Rated Rupert (18+)has some arts and crafts ideas on his blog - link s as usual - via Mutleythedog!!

jane said...

Is anyone else wondering where Wifey is? On holiday? Hiding behind the sofa? Been kidnapped by "the villagers"? It's been a long time since we heard from her - perhaps she's been abducted by southern aliens?

Hmmmm......

Hilary said...

She's probably having lots of fun sliding down the stairs!

Minx said...

Mutley, have you asked Wifey if she wants your presents? You are a rude dog - it must be because of where you live, you southern dogs, honestly.

james higham said...

Ban the TV and create problems for yourself entertaining the darling offspring.

occasional northerner said...

Wifey's whereabouts? Perhaps the hospital bedside of an injured child?

mujahid said...

iNSTEAD OF TV, CHILDREN SHOULD allowed to play, i agree that games and toys are good way to make children hooked. i found a similar
link which deals with baby toys.

baby toys

Sylvia said...

I think at this point, it is harder for me to "lose tv" than my kids! I've gotten hooked on TLC. So I am grounding myself from everything but NBC and TLC... so I don't go mad myself. The kids adapt easily, they find other stuff to keep them occupied-- for me, cleaning isn't very appealing.
-Sylvia
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