Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hell hath no fury...

It's been an extremely busy post-season for me. Post HOLIDAY season, that is. Boat loads of writing assignments, crap loads of pediatrician visits (and the bird flu hasn't even struck yet). There hasn't been time for all the warm and fuzzy parenting moments I usually write about.

But today I'm feeling good. Mike and I accomplished a major milestone in parenting last night. We agreed to slap parental controls on all the TVs in the house. That's right--lock down.

For years, YEARS!, I've been after the kids to shut off the TV. Talk about feeling like your parents! Daily, I've had flashbacks of my father shouting at us to "Turn that thing off! Get outside." To which we'd complain that there was nothing to do outside. To which he'd retort, "Go see a friend. Get on your bike. Move your bodies!"

Cut to 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and just replace my father's voice with mine, with Cara and Ryan playing the parts of the whiny, lazy ass kids. Man-ischewitz!

Mike grew up with unlimited TV time. Hey, he was an only child in a single-parent household. TV was his friend. As an adult, he found all the Pediatric Association advice to limit your child's TV viewing to be rhetorical. Not me. When Cara was little, I subscribed to parenting magazines, read "What to Expect -- The Suicidal Years," and studied all the flyers from the doctor's office. I became a fierce monitor of her TV time.

Me: "Mike, Cara has already watched 47 minutes of TV today. She can't put on Cinderella now! That will put her 17 minutes over her outer limit."

Mike: "You've got issues."

Cut to the Ryan years. As I became busier taking care of the kid's things, house things and work things, Ryan figured out how to work the VCR, DVD and DirectTV -- before he learned the alphabet. That's actually not even a joke. As a second child, whose older sibling is five years ahead of him, he learned all the ins and outs of electronics, and how best to sneak it in. If I was busy making dinner and told him to turn off the TV and go play, he'd promptly go to the basement and click on the Boomerang Network, making sure to keep the volume on low. If Mike was working in the basement, he'd just slip up to our room and make himself cozy--him, the remote and Boomerang. Life was good.

I'd be like: "Mike, these kids are watching waaaaay to much TV. It's got to stop. They're going to be atrophied, brain dead sloths! Back me up on this!"

Mike: "Mmmmmmm, yeah, whaaaa? The game's on. What?"

Me: "Nevermind!"

Mike: "Wait. I care about this. What were you saying?"

Me: "The kid's are watching too much TV!"

Mike: "Hold on until this play is over."

Well, the whole party came to a crashing halt last night. Daddy got p.o.'d, so now the hammer's coming down! Somebody overrode the TiVo. And cancelled the recording of "24." Nobody messes with "24" and gets away with it.

For some reason, Cara thought a "That's So Raven" rerun was important enough that she should cancel the upcoming recording of "24" that I had scheduled on the mainfloor. So there she was, chillin' with Raven when Mike told her he needed to check on a football game (the Colts-Steelers that he TiVo'ed), so he kicked her off that TV. Cara went to the basement TV and turned off MIKE'S backup TiVo recording of "24." Ooooooohhhh. Bad move. Flagrant foul.

Pretty much everything in the basement is not to be touched without Mike's approval. The TV, the TiVo, the stereo, our computer, Cara's computer, the Easy-Bake oven. It's his domain. He will let everyone know whether or not he's in the mood to let people use the stuff.

Cara committed multiple infractions!! There were flags all over the play! She touched his TV on a football Sunday. She purposely cancelled a program set to record on MIKE'S TiVo. (They cancel my stuff on the mainfloor TV all the time because they know I'll never get around to watching anything.) And then she said it was an accident when, over and over, she pushed the button that kept asking "Do you want to cancel this recording?"

If she was a mouth breather, that excuse may have flown. Mike wasn't buyin' it.

So now, they're LOCKED OUT. Of everything but PBS.

Only problem is, if I walk in a room and see Teletubbies on, this withdrawal is going to be a whole lot harder for everybody.

--Catherine Schetting Salfino