No, I’m NOT Doing Kill Your TV Week

The annual tradition of encouraging people to forgo their television viewing is upon us again. Frankly, I had forgotten this until my wife sent an e-mail.

Have you thought about how much TV you have watched this year? I think you will be surprised to see the statistics on this web site. For example the number of hours the average youth spends watching TV in a year is 1500 hours! YIKES!

National Turn off the TV week begins today. See if you can challenge yourself and your children to “turn off” to TV and “turn on” to reading!

This is all well and good. The problem is this: I LIKE TV. I don’t get to watch it all that often, sharing it with The Wife and the Daughter. Not that the Daughter watches it all that much either. She watches maybe 15 minutes in the morning, when she’s getting her hair done, then less than a half hour at night when she takes her medicines, including using her nebulizer. The average youth may watch over 1500 hours a year, but our youth sees less than 300. And all of it, on PBS Kids and Nick, Jr. with some legitimate educational content; I’m actually all right with that. In fact, in honor of Earth Day, Nick, Jr. is going to have a series of new shows on the topic which I had recorded for her.

So when the Wife came home Monday night and said to the Daughter, “Hey, how would you like it if I read you a story while you nebulize instead of watching TV,” and the Daughter frowned and said, “I don’t want to do that,” I was a bit sympathetic to the Daughter. I told the Wife that she had to sell the concept. So, a half hour later, AFTER I HAD WATCHED THE NEWS, BTW, the Wife repeated what she said before. The Daughter said, “Daddy doesn’t want to stop watching his news, does he?” Well, no, actually he does not.

By “selling it”, I mean to find the key to MOTIVATE the Daughter not to want to watch TV. There was this article a book review, really, in TIME magazine a couple months ago. Regarding Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the piece begins: “Whether you’re a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath–authors of the best-selling Made to Stick–survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works.

“Lesson No. 1: tell people what you want them to do in a way that will make intuitive sense to them.” Not watching TV, rather out of the blue, made no sense to her. She was going to get a story anyway before bed. Perhaps discussing how others were also doing this across the country, aligned with some reward, might have worked.

Besides, since I watch very little in real time with the DVR – even the news is taped – I don’t really want to give it up myself. Does no TV mean that we just fill up the DVR and watch more NEXT week? The DVR’s hovering around 50% full already.

In parenting, we really try to do the united front thing. But in this case, my heart simply wasn’t in it.


Date afternoon

One of the things those relationship “experts” always say is that, in order to keep a relationship strong, you need to continue to “date” your spouse/s.o. It’s ESPECIALLY necessary when you have children.

So we decided on a date afternoon this past Sunday. We used to do it once a month, in the middle of the month (we got married on 15 May), but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. The trick about Sunday is that it was communion Sunday (which means a longer service) AND the wife was partially in charge of the after-service snacks. And because my wife’s a deacon, people had things to ask her. So while she was talking, I struck up a conversation with someone. It turns out she kept talking because I was talking, and I was talking because SHE was talking. By this point, our babysitter, who had previously had just been sitting around, had engaged in conversation.

So, it’s 12:45 pm by the time we get home. too late really to feed the child and get to the 1 pm movies. So instead we went out to a restaurant. It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ma Moun. The food was good, but we were mildly worried that no one else came in the whole time we were there.

Then we went to Staples to buy a paper shredder. Tres romantique, n’est-ce pas? Except that it was just nice even doing something that mundane. the cool thing was that they were on sale 25%. The confusing thing was that the one we decided on was only marked down from $79.95 to $74.95; a larger machine would have cost the same. We took it to the counter for a price check and stated our confusion with that minimal discount; the clerk called the manager, who surveyed the situation and said, “How much do you want to pay for it?” Well, since you asked…The manager took $15 off, and the $59.95 was what we had in mind. Usually it’s the wife who picks up on these pricing discrepancies, but this time I sussed it out.

It was a nice date.
Did that radio thing I was worried about yesterday; I haven’t heard it yet, but once the nausea went away, I guess it went OK. I’ll listen to it when it’s available.
Yesterday afternoon about 5 pm, Joe Fludd, long-time FantaCo customer, e-mailed me with the sad news that Nic Morrison, another FantaCo regular who worked there for a time had died. I enjoyed seeing Nic around from time to time. As the obit noted, he “entered into eternal life on his 47th birthday, October 1, 2009, at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital, ten days after suffering a devastating stroke.” The wake was Sunday, the funeral yesterday; had I known sooner, I might have made one or the other. Quoting a mutual friend, “Nic was a gentle soul and a good person. 47 is too young.”
Apparently, Blogger has a limit of 2000 labels, and I have reached that threshold. Thus, e.g., I cannot add Nic Morrison to the label. Sometime when I have absolutely nothing better to do, I will deal with relabeling fifty-three months of blogging.

Last Run

As I’ve probably alluded to, my wife Carol has been away at college for a couple weeks. Last summer, she did two intense weeks of intensive study, and she had to read a half dozen books and write a half dozen papers before she even got there. Then this past school year, she had a 600-hour internship. Now she’s back at college for another two-week stint, after the preparatory reading and writing.

This has meant that I have been calling her every morning between 6:30 and 6:45, her only free time, just before breakfast. I was about to call her one day last week when I see an e-mail from her, titled: “Sleeping late Wed 7/29”

“I am turning off my alarm clock to sleep in in the morning because I am just getting back to my room now. If you get this message, don’t call me in the morning. I’ll call you later to catch up during the day at work and then again in the evening so I can talk to Lydia.”

My wife is an early riser, so this was quite curious.

“There was a bus accident tonight when MCLA was returning from Tanglewood. I was not on the bus that ran off the road and am OK, but tired. I was on the bus that was following the one that ran off the road headlong into a ditch so we were right there. It looks as though the driver of that bus had a seizure and lost control of his bus. Two coaches got off our bus, opened the back emergency door, and tried to give the unconscious driver CPR and then the AED but got no response, and the driver was pronounced dead. I helped the rest of the adults climb out of the back of the bus. Five were taken to the hospital for minor (as far as we know now) injuries.

“MCLA classes are canceled for Wed. morning and will probably resume after lunch. They are getting counselors to talk to us if needed.”

It turned out that the bus driver had a heart attack. The 70-year-old man had just come back to work after bypass surgery. Carol could hear her bus driver talk to this guy, and he indicated that this particular drive would be his “last run” for the night. Ironically accurate.

Carol and I agreed that it would probably be better not to mention the bus accident to Lydia, since it might make her worry about her mother and/or worry about taking the bus on the field trip that very day.

I never did talk to Carol on Wednesday, but I did on Thursday and subsequently; she is fine.

One curiosity about the media coverage is that the Times Union, the local paper, had a reported a school bus accidents in Pittsfield involving five students. Since it didn’t mention the school, it gave the impression that the students were of the K-12 variety, rather than graduate students. ROG

The gender slot

My wife and I were told that perhaps we need to get another roof on our house by a contractor who had done work on our house in the past. Since he was so busy that he was unlikely angling for the job, we thought his word had some credence. So, we have been investigating roofers. My wife called – she is a teacher and therefore home much of the summer – and got three quotes. She was talking to one of them, and he suggested that we probably just needed repairs and that the roof was structurally sound for another 10 years, so we were considering that option. He added, “If you DO decide to get the roof replaced in the future, HAVE YOUR HUSBAND CALL ME.” Now I had one brief conversation with him before, but the substantive conversations were all with my wife. Fact is, because she owned a house before we did, she almost certainly knows more about roofing than I do.” Must be a generation thing.

My daughter Lydia is allergic to peanuts, as I have indicated before. When Carol is off to college, there will be a couple birthday parties to which Lydia is invited and I’ll be taking her. One mom was a friend of mine before she was friends with Carol, but she e-mailed me: “What would be a good time to call Carol to speak with her more about her peanut allergy?” Now, I replied about all of the idiosyncracies of the allergy (allergens well-labeled on most products, need to avoid products processed in plants that may have had peanuts on the conveyor belt, etc.) Yup, even Lydia’s DAD is up on the particulatrs of Lydia’s allergies; we all deal with it every time we shop for groceries, eat at a restaurant or purchase something from a bakery.


The Wife’s Birthday

My wife has had a very busy year, and that busyness was contagious.

Last year, she had just returned from a grueling two-week-plus stint at a college working on her advanced certification in teaching administration. Before she even arrived, she had books to read and papers to write. The first week in particular included 12-and 13-hour days in classrooms and workshops; the subsequent time was was shorter only because the students needed more time to research and write MORE papers.

When she got back, four weeks of relative calm before she had her excruciating jaw (breaking) surgery, and had her jaw wired shut for the first four weeks of the semester, hardly optimal for a teacher, ESPECIALLY a teacher of English as a Second Language. Just making food was often a literal strain.

This meant she got started late on the 600 hours of internship she had to complete, sometimes trying to discern her assignments. Among other things, weeknights meant meetings and weekends were usually dedicated to to various projects. Then a less than perfect end-of-fall-semester evaluation spurred her on to a stellar evaluation at the conclusion of the spring semester, but through even MORE effort on her part (and greater cooperation, watching the child, e.g., on mine). But she did achieve her goal. She is FAR more disciplined in that way than I am.

In fact, her current schedule, reading books and writing papers for THIS summer’s classes, still forthcoming, has made it virtually impossible for me to even buy her birthday present, though I know what she wants, and I’ve had to enlist the assistance of a purchasing ally to pull it off. (I won’t mention it here, on the off-off-OFF chance she happens to read this.)

This summer will also mean I’ll be doing the single parent thing for a couple weeks. I left her with her grandparents for a week last year but she got all clingy and melancholy – crying on the phone almost every night. The daughter missing one parent is tough, but two was too hard (for me too) for more than a few days, especially not on her own turf. But we’ll metaphorically will leave the light on.

Anyway, happy birthday, Carol! Hope you have SOME fun on your day in the midst of all the school work and helping to feed the folks working on our church this week.

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