Wednesday, July 29, 2009


It was quite a while ago, and I don’t remember which pal I was visiting, but as I sat at what I recall to be the kitchen counter gabbing, out of the corner of my eye I saw her six-year-old son come in from the yard, turn on the television, palm the remote, and plop down on the couch.

That happened and I think I momentary blacked out, for I don’t remember the rest of the conversation I had been engaged in.

The lil' fella came in, turned on the TV, and his mother didn’t have a word to say about it. Apparently, what he’d done was the norm.

My shock was founded in my childhood, wherein my sisters and I, when we became old enough to understand what a television was, weren’t allowed to flip the TV's switch without mom’s go-ahead. When we did have her permission, it wasn't to watch network television; we watched PBS or, on Friday nights when ma n’ pa went on their weekly date night, we enjoyed the treat of Nick at Night. Cable? What's that? There were stacks of movies in the house and we borrowed even more from the neighbors, but we had to have the parental okay to turn on the TV for those as well. In the Peterson home, sitting on your rump entranced by moving pictures wasn't an acceptable use of time.

And it had never occurred to me that other homes didn’t operate in the same way.

TV makes a frequent appearance as a topic in conversations between me and Mr. Megan (I should really doom him to being called that permanently if he's going to be difficult about not wanting his name used here). Most often it is in the context of how glad we are that we two aren't TV-watching people. We get news from our phones' apps and our liberal fury fix from NPR. We don't feel we're missing out on anything by placing our television and its little buddy, Apple TV, in the garage in front of the treadmill.

Years ago, in one of our exchanges on TV I was stunned to learn that when he was a kid, long before he was Mine, when my husband came home from school it was perfectly fine for him to turn on the TV and park himself for the afternoon.

You didn’t have to ask permission? I sputtered.

Uh, no. You did?

Of course! Did you have to have your homework done.


And you could just watch TV? Like network TV with commercials and stuff?


Geez. No wonder I got better grades than you.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have set my eyes on and snagged this fellow if he weren't plenty sharp and awfully intellectual--I think far too highly of myself to buddy up with a dullard--but in the context of performing during public education, mama's oft-repeated adage in response to whining from a denied request to watch television was dead right: TV rots your brain.


The Fear Fam said...

Like your husband, I grew up not having to ask permission to turn on the TV, or even to get something out of the fridge, including full-sugar-and-caffeine-soda. I often lament that my mom did not require permission ... I would have wasted much less time, and maybe perfected a hobby or two!

Now that I'm the mom, the kids most definitely have to ask permission to watch a movie or play on the computer. We don't have cable TV or even bunny ears, so I know that what they do watch is acceptable, since I have previewed it and there are no commercials. You would be surprised (or maybe not) about how shocked many people are that we don't have TV. Even members of the church are surprised, which always catches me off guard. You would think they would understand why I don't want my children seeing the junk that's on TV, and wasting their time to boot.

Ok, that's a long comment. I guess it's obvious I feel strongly about this subject.

Ashley Thalman said...

Did I ever tell you that we not only had cable, but were latchkey. I had watched more HBO by age 12 than most adults have in their whole lives. I remember distinctly watching the movie "Casual Sex" before I moved to Salt Lake when I was probably 9. Yeah. And while I had no clue about sex (minus the birds and bees basics), nor what it meant to be casual- I wish someone had been there to turn the damned thing off.

And THAT my friend is why I refuse to waste 40 + dollars on the damned brain rotting tube...besides all the time wasting stuff. After all, I can do plenty of that on my computer.

rabidrunner said...

So that's why you got better grades then me...

crissy // mama boss said...

Growing up we didn't have to ask permission to watch tv. We enjoyed it and spent plenty of time in front of its mind-numbing glare. At the same time it wasn't the only thing that we did. We would go outside and run around, play, get fresh air, ride bikes--you name it. And I thought it was fine, because we were balancing our tv time with equal, if not more, outside time.
My younger sisters, on the other hand, do nothing but sit in front of the tv or computer for countless hours. When they get their "screen-time privelages" taken away they mope and whine. Their homework still doesn't get done, and the farthest outside they go is the porch swing.
Needless to say these girls are not only having trouble in school, they're having trouble with their weight.
One thing that frustrates me most is that my mom doesn't seem to notice there is a problem.

Recently my husband and I upgraded from his old clunky 12" to a brand new 32" flat screen and, while it has been nice to have a bigger screen for watching movies, I've been regretting our choice. Already the tv is on too often in my home (though I'm pleased to say we've cut back tremendously) and having it only led to something worse.
Now that we had a better tv my husband thought it was the right time to go out and buy a video game console--even after we'd had discussions about never wanting them in the house because we didn't want our kids to have that garbage.
Not only that but he has continually suggested that we move our old tv (the 12") into our sons room so he can watch movies in there. I put my foot down on that one, though. TVs definitely don't belong in bedrooms (or the kitchen)!

My boy is 2 and he is always asking to watch "tb" and it bugs me to no end. When he watches he is only watching educational stuff: videos that teach sign language, pbs and animal planet. I'm trying to limit him to one show/movie a day at the most.

Anyway, I was really going to comment to say that your mom is my hero. I need to be that disciplined, with myself and my family.
Thanks for this post.

Jessica said...

we don't have a TV and i'm quite glad. people get a little freaked out when they visit our apartment and it finally registers that we don't have a tv. the look on their faces is priceless.

is "liberal fury" a bad thing? if so, i'm in trouble...

Megan said...

Poor Dotter, Ash. Your own experiences will make it such that she's the only girl at school who doesn't know slang terms for genitalia and what the latest sugar cereal is.

Kelly Mo said...

I love TV. I love Cable. I love movies. I also love reading. However, my kids are restricted in their tube time. Otherwise I might have some zombies on my hands.

{Erica} said...

sounds like your family is a lot like mine.

We came home one day and there was a metal padlock on the TV plug! Yes, apparently there are locks for plugs.

The lock was a metal box that would lock the plug inside.

After homework, chores, sports, and a fine art we could cash in our chapters. We got to watch one hour of TV (and by TV I mean National Geographic or some History video trying to convince us they had traced the blood lines of Jesus Christ, which if you knew my Mother you know I'm SO not joking)for every __ chapters we read in our current book - number of chapters determined on the length).

The funny thing is we didn't need that lock, it was already ingrained in our little heads that TV wasn't the norm. My mother even wonders why she got the added precaution perhaps?

and yes...I got better grades than those that rotted away in front of a TV, not to mention had a life full of first hand experiences instead of watching someone else do them on a tv screen.

{Erica} said...

p.s. Never had cable until I was married!

Kami said...

I love TV. LOOOOVE IT. But, we decided not to let our kids watch it (except on really long car trips or on planes) and that decision has thus significantly cut down on my own tv watching. Do I feel like a better person? Nah. Now I blog, tweet, and post comments on other people's blogs. It's exhausting! But I suppose it's more intellectually stimulating than Law & Order Special Victims Unit.

Megan and Keli'i said...

Yes, what about the computer? Computer rot your brain?

lindsey v said...

Aw man, I'm starting to think that I'm not your type of person. I love TV, I am a mom with an a-line who pushes strollers, and I love cream of chicken soup.
I must disgust you.

Megan said...

Lindsey, here's the beautiful thing about me: you don't have to have my haircut, be childless, have a teeny dog, live without TV, live outside Utah, do yoga, sell drugs, dislike your inlaws, bite your nails, mouth off, pick off your toenail polish or be vegetarian to be my Internet pal.

I appreciate variable backgrounds and opinions, for they are what help me shape and be confident in my own. So please don't stop coming around and saying what you think even if you know I'll hate and/or mock it (who am I anyway that you should care?)--I belive that in sharing your thoughts you'll either gain more confidence in them or hop on the path to changing your mind.

Oh, and you should know that it wasn't the fact that the lady with my haircut was a mom with kiddos and a stroller, it was just that she was yet another person with the same 'do, and that was just the last straw. One more person.

Misti said...

I grew up watching tv when we got home from school, unless it was such a nice day (often) and we were playing outside. But, we had our Nickelodeon shows we watched and we did watch Punky Brewster and cartoons.

These days I don't have cable, just the basic stuff as I don't feel like paying for it. Sure, I miss HGTV a bit, but I'm ok without it. Oh and I could handle the Fine Living network as well. But, I just watch my Grey's and House during the year and try not to watch much else.

lindsey v said...

Good to know.
You dislike your in-laws? :)

Megan said...

Not all of them, but a few of them enough that I'd knock 'em off the planet given the choice. After making them suffer greatly (I have figured out how, but am not going to reveal that here). Unfortunately, those few taint the rest; who, incidentally are good, enjoyable people. A crying shame.

Anonymous said...

i watch tv like it's going out of business, but you can be sure that i am going to be a freaking tv nazi when it comes to my kids. nothing with commercials, nothing with impish little brats, nothing that teaches them that it's adorable to be precocious.

i hope they like books...

Katharina said...

Amen. Our domicile is telly-free, and I relish the fact. Not that I won't have one someday, but unrestrained utilization of the Idiot Box is a pet peeve of mine.

I am also puzzled by folks who put a TV in their bedrooms. For us, that spot is dedicated to sleeping, nookie, and nothing else. Why would anyone desire to encroach upon two such wholesome activities by inviting in mindless distraction? {Just a curiosity, peeps.}

crissy // mama boss said...

@ katharina
I completely agree with you on the tv in bedroom thing. And the way you put it gave me a good chuckle :)

Alicia said...

This is a great post! I also had to ask before watching a movie... eating... going to a friends house... having a friend over... while NO ONE ELSE had to. :) Talk about parental supervision. lol. But needlesstosay, I am grateful for it. I intend to raise my boys the same way. While my brain may be debatabley (sp?) rotting from the computer... my childrens' will not.

whitneyingram said...

As I type this, I am watching TV. Ethan and Jack are out of town, Van is asleep and I am melting my brain to the tune of the Food Network and my laptop clicking away. It feels fabulous.

I like TV. I am not ashamed of it. I let my boys watch TV. How else am I supposed to get dressed in the morning? Yes, my kids watch TV, but I also let them play with toys, go on bike rides and follow me around the grocery store. Moderation in all we do.

I have a TV in my room and I love it. Some of my best memories of my tearfully beloved last home were sitting on our bed with my large prego belly, eating cheap pizza while watching "The Office" with Ethan. My snort laughing would wake up my son. Luckily both my husband and I are on the same wave length when it comes to TV in our room. It's for early mornings when I want to keep sleeping and Jack wants cartoons. It's for late night movie cuddle. TV in the room isn't for all, but it is for us.

Rachel Mae said...

Very similar family background. Same source of news. Stacks (and stacks and stacks) of DVDs.

Just because we don't have TV doesn't mean we don't watch TV on DVD. But I waste so much less time that way and only end up watching shows I really like and want to be watching.

Oh, and your comment to Bird made me laugh. When I was two, I would say "I have to defecate." Poop is a word I am most definitely teaching my one-year-old daughter.