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The day the screens went silent

Butterscotch candy?

This morning I tried a new soap. One minute I was a 36-year-old woman taking a shower and the next I was five or six, in a movie theater with my grandparents watching Pete’s Dragon and eating butterscotch candies from Granny’s pocketbook. That’s some powerful soap.

Ahem. Anyway. I’ve decided we spend too much time staring at screens, be they computer monitors or televisions. This point was driven home to me this morning when I suggested to my little henchmen that we should have a few hours today with no TV and no computers. From the looks on their panic-stricken faces, you’d think I had put forth the idea that we spend the day organizing our underwear drawers and vacuuming.

Baking apple pie

At approximately 9:30am, after ample warning and time to play a few games, I turned off their computer monitors, closed the lid on my laptop, and set the timer in the kitchen for 2 hours. Then Eamonn and I set to work making a pie. I was under the impression that I had taken a glass pie plate from among my grandmother’s things (the other grandmother, not the one with the butterscotch candies) a few years ago. I thought it was part of the small collection of items I picked out when my parents were cleaning out Grandma & Grandpa’s house in preparation to sell it. I suppose I could be wrong. Or maybe I put it somewhere weird. Either way, there was no pie plate to be found. Eamonn crawled into the cabinet for me to check the dark corner in the back, but he came up empty.

Baking apple pie

So we improvised. Round, rectangular, what difference does it make? It all tastes the same, right?

Apple pie

And as far as that goes, it was good but not great. We used pre-made crusts and canned filling and you can tell. Don’t get me wrong – I still had a piece for lunch, and will probably have another slice or two before the day is up. But I think the next time I want to take the easy way out pie-wise, I’ll just do my usual thing of throwing a Mrs. Smith’s Apple Pie into the oven. Those are delicious.

Halloween clearance

When not baking, I flipped leisurely through Sue Heaser’s new book, and the boys tried on their clearance costumes from yesterday. The two hours ended when the oven timer beeped, the little people scurried off almost immediately to watch their new Backyardigans DVD, and I (who really am no better when it comes to screen time these days) flipped open the laptop, did a quick email check, and processed my pie-making photos. It’s probably pretty sad that we find ourselves twitching when the tv and computers are taken away, and I think for all of our sakes, I’m going to institute more of these screen-free times. I’d like to see more baskets of books in strategic places around the house. I’d love to find the boys engaged in a good story sometimes, instead of bathing in the blue glow of the computer screen. Aidan has been able to read since he was four years old, but he considers it more of a utilitarian skill than something that can bring him pleasure. Eamonn is learning to read now, too, and while it’s hard to deny the contribution that tv and computer games have made toward that goal, I think I’d like for his reading vocabulary to extend beyond play, quit, bonus features, and scene selection.

It could be worse. Most of the games they play on the computer have significant educational value. When they watch TV, they are watching either PBS, or DVDs from our collection. And often (as is this case this very minute) the TV seems to just be there for background noise. A few minutes ago, they set the language to French (on purpose), quickly got bored because they couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, and proceeded to play some imaginative game completely unrelated to what the French Backyardigans were doing. This kind of thing happens a lot. So, they’re not playing shoot-em-up games all day or being barraged with harmful advertising, but they are missing things with their eyes on the screen so much. I need to think about ways to restructure our days and minimize the amount of time we spend being passively entertained, and now is a good time to do it, while I’m working on tasks, calendars & scheduling.

As for me, I have some business-related work to take care of this afternoon, but I am craving some more screen-free time. I’m going to drag the vacuum down to the family room, crank up some Polka Dot Radio nice and loud, and do something physical (not to mention useful) with my time! Actually, forget Polka Dot Radio for the moment – I have this strange desire for Christmas music suddenly. Maybe I’ll indulge in a little Christmas Broadband for a while.

I hope you’ll pardon me now. There are halls to deck!

10 thoughts on “The day the screens went silent

  1. I totally remember going to see Pete’s Dragon! However, I don’t remember the candies. Hm.

    I love yummy shower stuff. I’ve been using Dr. Brommer’s and the like, but also Lush has interesting stuff.

    “Mr. Bubble” always reminds me of Granny’s house, because when I stayed there, of course I could only take baths, and so they were always bubble baths :-).

    1. What’s funny is that I remember the candy, but don’t remember at all that you were there, LOL! Shows you where my priorities were I guess 😉

      “Uncle Wiggily” always reminds me of staying at Granny’s house, because she’d always read to us from it. Even long after we were old enough to read to ourselves. I don’t recall taking baths there – only being amazed that there was no shower. I’m still kind of amazed at that.

      1. Yeah, I think I was there. I usually stayed at their house for a week each summer, and they used to make sure that we three girls spent some time together, and it was always hot, so the movies were good. I also remember those “Hole in the Wall Gang” movies.

  2. There’s hope. My son sounds a lot like yours. I thought he would never crack a book for pleasure reading. But, this semester in college, he announced that he was going to be an English major, starting reading novels and just loves it. I was shocked. Growing up he saw his dad and I reading a lot and we always encouraged him. I guess some things do rub off.

    1. I find it surprising that someone who was such an early reader really has no interest in it at all. His father and I both spent most of our summers reading books and visiting the library as kids, so genetics ought to kick in somewhere along the line 😉

  3. I must admit, I could easily live without the TV, I rarely watch it. The laptop/computer…no way. I neeeed them. I suppose I could do without if I wasn’t trying to run a business. Maybe some day when I have some kiddies. About the same time I try to make an apple pie. Yeah, that’s it.

    1. Yeah, the TV is not nearly as important to me as the computer. Gotta have the computer if I want to keep my business afloat. Unfortunately, while the computer is a necessary tool, it is also quite often a major social distraction. I have to find a way to discipline myself a bit!

  4. I woke up today and had the same urgings to listen to Christmas music. I’ll hold off though another two weeks.

    See what LauraJ has been blogging about: Day the fifth

    1. Well, as it turned out, they were playing sappy slow stuff, which really didn’t lend itself to a fun time vacuuming. So, I’m putting off the Christmas stuff a bit longer, too 🙂

  5. […] foreign ones) household since before we were married. Why, when I am trying to be more conscious of screen time, are we adding 200 channels to our repertoire? Strictly financial. It costs less to have internet, […]

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