Kids today, am I right?
I know, I know. Should have led with “GET OFF MY LAWN!!!” to announce my transition to stodgy.
We have added another back-and-forth topic in our home. You know the kind - topics on which parents and children will never agree because we (the parents) are just so very, very out of touch with, well, kids today?
This particular discussion surrounds the words, “I don’t watch TV.”
Maybe not a discussion. The words (or defiant statement, really) aren’t offered in passing or as a source of pride but, instead, with a tone of indignation. As if the mere suggestion that my children watch television is both offensive and appalling. My kids, of course, are well beyond the age of Bluie. They are at an age where the use of the television in our living room is representative of a time long-gone by.
Should I tell them it's in color now?
I know I am of a different generation than my children, but there are still topics on which I refuse to accept side-eyes that scream, “Ok, Boomer.” I know that standard baby adult practice is to offer very hip supporting information in an effort to out logic their elders, but on this topic … no, none is ever provided.
“I don’t watch tv.”
Just four words said in the same tone as that teacher who once insisted that the mimeograph machine was still the best option for papers en masse. “I don’t use the copier.” (Do I need to pause for some of you to look that up? Mimeograph? Save yourself the time and just smear ink on the outside of your writing hand. You’ll understand my past, immediately.)
My kids keep this “I don’t watch TV” statement locked and loaded, ready for use before I can even finish a sentence that starts with “Have you heard about … “ or “There was this funny commercial …” or “Did you want to watch …”
The cadence goes as follows:
Me: “Did you see the sho - “
Them: “I don’t watch TV.”
Sometimes I’m not even leading to a television question. Sometimes I’m heading to a finish of “... the dog riding his bike down the street?” or “... the aliening landing?” Just kidding. The kids know all about the aliens. I often think they are one of them.
I understand that kids today can access all things video in those tiny computers tucked away in back pockets. Or, if squinting is not on the menu, via laptops that lay within arm’s length at all times. It doesn’t bother me that their choice of screen is a small one often held less than two feet from their face (or, sometimes, inches from their eyeballs).
It used to bother me. Then I decided not to die on that hill and, rather, use it to elevate my status to Primary Owner of the BIG TV. “Yes,” I thought, “Stop encouraging them and just plant your ownership flag permanently in the living room.”
Still, I chuckle silently at this “I don’t watch TV” proclamation.
Sure, “That’s what you think ...” I want to say.
If it looks like a duck …
My sweet children, when you sit down at regular intervals to invest in the newest episode of a show, you are very much watching television. I understand that “streaming” sounds much more hip, but honestly, all those things I watch on the big screen in the living room? 90% of them land in the streaming category. I suspect the only people who aren’t streaming are those still hanging onto their rabbit ears and satellite dishes.
Funny story: During quarantine times, we tossed a written-in-stone rule right out the window and introduced TV dinner night.
Prior to that, we were vigilant about having dinner at the kitchen table, attendance required, and no electronics. Are we the Cleavers? Maybe. But we still love it (including the kids). We (mostly) all look forward to the nightly benchmark of closing out the school or workday. We (sometimes) have the most amazing conversations (sometimes). Nobody ever storms off angry (okay, that part is a blatant lie, but I really felt like I was on a roll).
It never fails that a family dinner that starts out with silence ends up lasting well after the plates are cleared as we land on a topic worth diving further into. Not sure how that works? Try a silent meal. Leaving space for silence makes teens so uncomfortable that they will eventually crack and open the chatter dam.
Quarantine times and the introduction of TV dinner night. In one of many efforts to make life at home more interesting, we moved our plate settings into the living room once each week. The kids? Shocked. I never thought this small relocation would be seen as such a twist in our norm but it was met with this vibe of “Oh man, check us out.” TV night then morphed into “bowl night” as the kids and I searched for one-bowl meals that offered quick cleanup. Some favorites? Chili piled with cheese and chips, Thai noodles with shrimp, grain bowls, or (for those especially rough days) ice cream. Favorite shows? The League, It's Always Sunny, Breaking Bad ... all shows that the kids were already invested in via (I won't say it) (yes I will) watching television.
We (the parents) do find it funny that there are no complaints about being subjected to our archaic practices on those nights. And of course, we do not mention that, yes, these are now all available to stream lest we add a retort of “Oh, I'll stream that” to the conversation.
So yes, my children, you do watch television.
PS: We know that when Ma and Pa Ingalls have left home for town, your first move is into the living room to flip on that BIG TV so you can watch your not-television in a larger format.
Don’t be embarrassed, my favorite
Gen Zs, Xs, and Millenials (I just really can't keep track).
We all watch television.
It just spits out in different places.