TV or not TV….is that even still a question?
According to the American Family Council, I am breaking some kind of moral code for having a TV in my kitchen. The other day, I listened (on the TV in my kitchen) to a family therapist on a morning talk show say how harmful the interruption of a television set can be on the family table. Apparently, it is not soccer/football/baseball practice, late nights at the office, or the “I already ate at TJ’s, they were having something I liked” that’s disrupting the flow of family dinner conversation – it’s the TV.
Now, for as long as I can remember, there has been a television on the top of my refrigerator. It was there before it was stylish, before the Food Network, before there were 800 cable channels. I am by nature a news junkie. I love to come down in the pre-dawn hours of the morning, pour a cup of hot coffee, turn on the local news and open up a fresh newspaper. Yes, I still read a morning paper - two actually, even though recently a nephew who was staying over called me a dinosaur after observing the daily ritual. A newspaper allows you to control of the flow of information coming at you like no other source. But that’s a different blog.
Anyway, while listening to this woman (on my kitchen TV) who mostly likely has missed many family dinners while promoting her book on tour, I started reminiscing about the conversations that have taken place while the TV was on behind us. (This may be where my sons want to turn off their computers).
When the boys were growing up, I felt strongly about having dinner at the kitchen table. I came home from work and cooked, I wanted them to eat it. I wanted “The Walton’s” table where everyone was laughing and talking at once. But that rarely happened….usually it was me talking, them eating and their father interrupting with an occasional “leave something for your mother, boys”
We usually ate around the downbeat to the Action News theme and I would allow the background noise to play behind as an ignored guest. I would try and provoke conversation by asking about school, but they usually wanted to talk sports. They both played sports, their father coached them and I was always a spectator, so the subject was our most common bond. But I would try and push into other subjects and sometimes get cooperation. “I joined a band today”, said my youngest son when asked how his day was, “you did?” I, surprised at that declaration, responded, “Do you play an instrument?” He nodded his head “Yes, the drums”, he said matter-of-factly, “how hard can it be.” Ok…
Dinner-time banter was warming. Even the TV became part of us. The weatherman talking about the potential of snow in the winter, or the first really warm day of spring, brought all new topics to the surface. Their young observations amused me……right up until the night, one casual remark, stunned me.
While handing my oldest son who was in junior high at the time potatoes one night, I asked “How did things go for you today, bub?” He loaded his plate and responded “we learned how to put a condom on in health class. Pass the gravy please”……..I think even the newscaster stopped talking. What did he say? I searched his father’s eyes to see if he had heard what I heard but he looked back at me and said, “I can’t believe the Phillies lost again”. WAIT A MINUTE!!! “Son, how did the teacher do that?” He rolled his eyes at my not grasping the obvious, “he used a banana! Can you turn on ESPN?”
This, of course led to a deeper discussion later at night, (as so many dinner topics do), but my point is this, it started at the dinner table. With the TV on! It’s not the television stopping family conversation; it’s the lack of participants. Turn off the TV, lady? I turned it up!!!