The television and I have a long history together. It’s a love-hate kind of thing. I think it always has been. I’ve enjoyed its company on many occasions; however, on just as many occasions, I’ve hated my attachment to it and come to resent the thing itself.
Recently, we’ve settled into a nice routine. When I’m home in the morning or afternoon, I will watch a Gilmore Girls rerun or another, shorter show if the baby’s asleep or when I just need to hear another voice forming words in the English language. The rest of the time, I shut it off. In addition, often when it is on, I’m not even really paying any attention to it at all. And when I notice that even an intentionally turned-on program is being ignored, that’s another time I actually manage to find the off button. Yeah, me and the TV, our relationship is pretty good.
Except for one thing.
That would be the jealousy. When James comes home from work, he turns on the boob tube to kick back, relax and recover from the day. That’s fine. I understand that he needs a little down time. We all do. I take walks, draw, unnecessarily redesign websites, it’s all good. But he’s tied to it in a way that is starting to bother me, especially now that we have a fairly interactive little boy around. And I think that part of what’s been eating at me in terms of isolation is the fact that he spends more time looking at the moving pictures on the screen than at me or his own son. That the best way he knows to soothe his fussy boy is to point his little face toward the flickering lights until they both have this look of utter blankness on their faces.
I admit, I’ve sat M in his bouncer in front of the tube for a few minutes when it meant the difference between being able to make myself a meal or starving for another couple hours. But when my son asks for my attention, he’s got it. When my husband asks for my attention, he’s got it. No question and without delay. It’s not hard for me to give priority to my immediate and right-now life. To the people in it. And I’m not sure why it’s so difficult for my husband to do the same.
I guess not everyone is cut out for peek-a-boo marathons.
For me, the television is often just switched on for background noise. I only have a couple shows these days that merit my undivided attention, and thank goodness for the DVR or else those few shows might never get any real attention at all. But I’ve noticed a remarkable difference in the quality of my time when no one’s eyes and ears are being constantly seduced by the pervading sounds of commercial jingles and UFO documentaries. I just hope that we will get to a point when everyone in my household feels the same way.
After that, we might have to address my intravenous Internet habit. But we’ll save that for another time. Baby steps and all.
Epilogue: We have talked about the television thing, the way I’ve been feeling, which I might exaggerate just a tiny little bit due to the effects of hormones and/or stress. We both agree that television to the excess that it has been present in our former lives is not good for our son’s current and future mental development, and we’re going to try to do better.