In my previous post I related the story of how my family began to break its addiction to what Harlan Ellison famously called “The Glass Teat”. The plan was simple. We wouldn’t watch TV during the week. Adding a hint of hypocrisy to this recipe for disaster is the fact that I install cable television for a living.
The first night was the roughest. As we made dinner, my two year-old son Julian repeatedly walked to the television set and turned it on. He did this every time we turned the television off and with great patience. Julian apparently assumed that his parents were in the grip of some kind of seizure; the kind of seizure that can only be brought on by repeated viewings of the Scooby Doo gang on
He was not completely wrong.
After dinner, I combated Julian’s efforts by completely unhooking the cables from the back of every television in the house.
Everyone began to cry. Julian cried because he couldn’t make the television come on. Four year-old Gabriel cried because he realized that he couldn’t watch “Ed, Edd, and Eddy”. Our infant daughter Riley cried because everyone else was crying. My wife and I cried because, dammit, “CSI:
Still, my wife and I fought on. We put the boys in their room to let them cry themselves out. We put Riley in her swing because, frankly, dizzy babies find it hard to cry. Then, my wife and I began to do stuff that we usually avoided by watching television; stupid stuff like paying bills, cleaning the house and (oh, the humanity) talking to each other.
It sucked. I felt like Pa on “Little House on the Prairie”, only this was an alternate world Pa who desperately wanted to be plugged back into the Matrix.
As suddenly as it started, the crying from the boys’ room stopped. Because every parent knows that silence = bad, my wife and I trooped upstairs and found that Julian had figured out how to hook the cable back into the television. It wasn’t screwed in and the picture was fuzzy, but my two year-old had MacGyvered his way back into the Nielsen demographic.
I was overcome with pride. My son was a chip off the old block. He had picked up some of his dad’s skills. Then I remembered that his dad was a cable guy and got depressed.
Still, this was a great opportunity to exercise my parenting skills. This was a chance to turn a bad moment around and teach my sons crucial skills that they could use when they had kids. I turned to my wife.
“Well,” I said. “I think we’ve found out how all that pornography got on my computer.”
My wife looked at me for a moment.
“You’re sick,” she said. “You need help.”