In 4th grade, Ian came home one day in April announcing that it was National TV Off Week.  The children in his classroom were all encouraged to give this a try.  Chris and I were game.

The first day of withdrawal was terrible.  The boys were cranky.  The little brothers were angry at Ian for suggesting the idea, and at Chris and me for taking away their drug of choice.  I no longer had the electronic babysitter to “help” me – but we were going to stick it out.  We were no longer hearing the idiotic voices of deeply unfunny Nickelodeon cartoons, reason enough to never go back.

The second day was better, and by the third day, the boys had kind of forgotten the TV.  They played in their rooms or out in the yard.  They read library books we had loaded up on.  They got out the Uno game.   There were fewer family feuds.  This syndrome is well known to the granola-making, home-schooling, sweater-knitting bloggers I read.  Many of them have made TV cozies out of linen, appliqued with felt birds, to put over their tubes so the kids don’t clamor for so much screen time.  The pattern, which was explained in tutorials and shared on-line,  had to be altered for the infusion of flat screen TVs.

So anyway, the experiment imposed by Ian’s 4th grade teacher was so successful that we made it a rule for all schooldays.  No TV unless it’s Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  This went on for years, quite successfully.  There were times when I’m sure a voodoo doll was made of Miss H, but for the most part, the status quo was accepted.

Now the boys are older, they get out of school at what seems like noon, so in theory can knock out homework by 4 PM, and the no TV on schooldays rule has slipped away. 

The boys are all fans of the show Myth Busters, which is a great way to teach a love of scientific experimentation.  They’ve learned all kinds of obscure facts from the show, and of course you can’t beat the explosions.  The creator of Myth Busters must have been the parent of young boys.

The relevance to my life is that I’ll occasionally use an expression which my sons point out is incorrect.  If I say:  “That guy is so clumsy!  He’s a bull in a china shop,” then from the backseat will rise a lecturing voice.   “Actually Mom, if you surround a bull with racks of china figurines, he will walk very carefully and try to get out without touching anything.  They did that on Myth Busters.”  If I say:  ”My offer went over like a lead balloon,”  I will hear from across the dinner table:  ”You know, Mom, lead balloons actually float quite well.  I saw it on Myth Busters.”

I now know better than to suggest my boys run in a zig-zag pattern while being chased by crocodiles, or that our car will be blown off the road by the force field from a speeding on-coming snow plow, or that anyone would be able to swim away alive from an oceanic whirlpool.

Conclusion:  Not all TV is bad.  As this year’s National TV Off week comes to a close, I am grateful to those crazy guys and one gal on Myth Busters.  Even if they have tainted some of my favorite expressions.


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