If you follow me on social media, you may have seen me throwing around the idea of “getting rid” of our TV for a month. I must confess I’m glad I didn’t do it sooner because our kids were sick for about 10 days with the flu. We enjoyed many episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I did promise a big movie night at then end of the month, complete with popcorn, candy, and soda! That’s a real treat in our home!
Yesterday was the day. I moved our TV up to our bedroom. You know my children have been thrilled with the idea of not being able to watch “their shows” for a “whole month!” I don’t watch a whole lot of television, minus last week, but it also distracts me from what I really want to get done. The older I get, the less I can tune out the noise. I was good at reading when there was music or sound in the background many years ago, but not anymore! I need it to be pretty quiet.
We have tried to limit how much our children watch, and are picky about what they get to watch. I’m learning television is more trash than anything, so that is another reason I’m not bummed about trying this experiment! I know there are better ways for us to spend our time together as a family, and I want to be intentional. Sometimes, you have to literally move things out of the way if you want to do that.
It didn’t take long for my children to realize the TV wasn’t coming back last night. I was working on some school stuff myself, so I quizzed the kids on their work for the day.. as in… did you really finish all your work. I knew they all had reading to do, so I sent them downstairs to get their books, and told them this was a great opportunity to get their reading and studying done. When they finally accepted their new reality, we ended up having a great night together.
A friend shared this poem by Roald Dahl with me, and it’s very befitting our month of no TV. This isn’t all true of our children because we are aware of what can happen if all they do is sit and stare. Last week we actually experienced some of that because they didn’t feel well enough to do anything else. Our kids truly love playing outside, and thanks to Georgia weather, they can almost all year round. Even when it’s too cold for me, it isn’t for them. I couldn’t exactly kick them outside to play when they have the flu! Either way, read this poem slowly, and carefully. There is a lot of truth in it. I see our children’s imaginations fade the more they watch the television. I want them to regain that. I want them to love to read. They are children- they most likely won’t make time to play games or read on their own. I know I didn’t. I had to be forced to. I’m half hoping we don’t even bring the TV back! Without further ado, Roald Dahl:
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
– Roald Dahl