Thursday, January 18, 2007

Olde Tyme Entertainment

Living on a busy street has some, if very few, advantages. It's kind of neat that RaggedyDad literally walks 12 feet or so to the bus stop. It's fairly easy to give people directions to our house. But one of the best advantages by far to living here is that our living room window gives our kids a view of all of the major neighborhood action.

Two bus lines pass by with stops in front of our apartment. Nearly every ambulance, police car, and fire truck that needs to get from this neighborhood to the next or to one of three main highways passes by our place. Noisy, but we're mostly used to it. The kids' bedroom is on the other side of the apartment, so it doesn't often keep them up.

There are usually lots of trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, dog walkers, and pedestrians carrying all sorts of interesting things out on the street. Right now we can see the first snow of the season coming down in its quiet, carefree, yet deliberate way. For my kids, the spot right by the couch that overlooks the window is the most coveted and fascinating spot in their home.

I recently commented about our own family's take on TV at DaBoysof905. Here's an excerpt of what I said over there:

I also think that TV today is more of a blatant assault on the senses and morals than it was when I was growing up.

For the 5+ years we've been married, we've never had cable, so that cut out a large part of the available offerings, combined with the antenna reception we get that leaves much to be desired on certain channels.

When it's repeats time, I get much more into books, magazines, even more housecleaning and cooking/freezing ahead.

As far as TV for kids, with my 3 and a half year old, we let her watch TV, and it became obsessive, so about a year ago, I just stopped turning it on for her, almost 100%. If she or I are really sick, or on the occasion that my mom comes to watch the kids (e.g. I have a Dr.'s appt), there's maybe about a 30-60 minute show. Honestly, it's a drop in the bucket at this point, and my daughter is more than willing to go shut the TV off herself when it's over.

My fifteen month old has had such limited exposure to TV that it doesn't really interest him. I have found for my older daughter that eliminating TV has helped her to be more relaxed all around and also to play more creatively.

As for the news, RaggedyDad relies on the internet for 95% of it, and us parents watch about 3 hours a week, give or take a couple of hours if there's something very interesting going on.

I'm sure that as the kids get older, the window will grow less fascinating, and we may have to make some tough decisions in our house about whether we want it around or not. I think that as a medium, and in moderation, TV has its place. I'm just glad that, for the time being at least, we've got an alternative nearby.


LT said...

Pfft, you linked the wrong post (though I'm sure JT will disagree).

TV is not evil! ;-)

But seriously, it's very cool that you have a window like that. My brother (who lives in the suburbs of Boston) is likewise on a busy street corner, and his children also spend lots of time watching the comings and goings of buses, emergency vehicles, etc.

kasamba said...

My mother didn't let us watch tv and I think that really facillitated my creativity.

Watching the goings on from the window, your children are able to obaserve and enjoy real life and all it has to offer.
Darn, I gotto get me a window.

JT said...

The kids have the right idea. I still haven't gotten over looking out the window. Daboys apartment is off one of the larger UWS streets and I spend lots of time staring out into the neighborhood (albeit from pretty high up). Ill take a window over television anytime.

Ezzie said...

We never had cable growing up... so I got addicted to computers instead for entertainment.

Actually, I probably played outside more than almost anyone I know - no cable, no Nintendo et al... there was nothing else to do. Which was great, in the grand scheme of things.

Stacey said...

I hate the TV. I've never been a big fan of it. My mother used to put me in front of Sesame Street so she could make dinner, and I even hated Sesame Street. I could easily live w/out a TV.

But one thing I love, love, love is going out to the movies. Now THAT is fun!

cruisin-mom said...

I love tv. I'm a baby boomer, and grew up with tv. I admit it. I'm not ashamed. I love mindless entertainment.

mother in israel said...

I agree completely about TV. Bet you aren't surprised.

Jack's Shack said...

Stacey watches more TV than she admits. I know from experience.

table nine said...

As RM knows, TV has become a major struggle in our home. There were 4 months last year that I finally shut it off for our then 2 1/2 year old daughter because it was just becoming an obsession. I explained to her that it "broke," and that seemed to be an acceptable story. But, a month after our son was born, I broke down in tired desperation, and TV viewing once again became the one and only activity of the day.

Happy to say, though, last week we once again closed the TV armoire doors due to another technical "breakdown." No More! I'll give this advice to anyone - don't even start your kids watching TV! Our struggle to turn it off has not been worth any video or PBS programming, and our daughter really is calmer and more creative at play without it.

RaggedyMom said...

LT - I think for the most part living on a busy street with small kids is a pain and a challenge, but, yes - the window is one of those things that makes it bearable!

Kasamba - LOL, I ought to get you a window for your birthday!

JT - I sometimes have to remind myself that there's a fine line between curious observer and creepy neighborhood lookout. When I find myself tempted to talk to the people outside, it's time for some TV :)

Ezzie - Playing outside is the best. I wish it weren't so much of a rare occurence for the kids here.

Stacey - I could get into TV, but when there's nothing of quality on (often), I despise just having it on as noise in the background. Movies are fun. We almost always wait for the video these days, but theaters are exciting.

Cruisin-Mom - There were a great many afternoons where my mom napped and I sat on the floor in her room, watching cartoons. TV holds some fond memories and associations for me too :)

Mother in Israel - Somehow I thought the no-TV take on things would be up your alley. Psychic? Maybe.

Jack - I think your blog could actually qualify as a TV substitute. And with 50% fewer calories! Thanks for providing some worthy alternatives!

Table Nine - Stay strong! I'm proud of you guys. If only "our shows" weren't such an impetus for me to hang on to "the box" altogether!

SephardiLady said...

One of the huge advantages of being in a home with a backyard is that the kids can run around with less supervision. Apartment living is difficult, although often necessary.

We keep reigns on the TV, but sometimes when I'm sick or tired, or just need a half hour for a major project, I end up using it as a crutch and it is so addictive for kids. Just this morning, my son was begging for a video. He watched two half hour videos this week and was practically 2-3 weeks without and yet was begging. I just said no and my husband is now playing a game with him while I nurse.

RR said...

I applaud your "almost no TV" stand with the kids- my mother let us watch WAY too much when we were growing up, and I think it's made my attention span a wee bit shorter than it should be.

I also make sure not to let my kids veg in front of the idiot box for hours on end- when it's off, they find plenty of creative, imaginative things to do.

Liked your description of your "window on the world"- how nice for your kids!

Hila said...

I think we are all in agreement (for the most part) that RM's decision on television is a positive one. I didn't have cable until I was in 5th grade, and then we moved again 2 years later and poof! it was gone again, so just now, in college, have I gotten into much of a t.v. habit. Mostly I watch it when "my shows" (Grey's Anatomy, anyone???) are on.

I am glad that, as a kid, my parents made sure that we didn't have 3 zillion channels of mindless cartoons, and by having just an aerial antenna for the t.v. we stuck primarily to PBS. Say what you want, but I am addicted to PBS. However, we had a "woods" by our house when I was younger and my brother and I used to play "fort" and "adventure" out there for hours on end. Anyway...Point being that t.v. is ok for kids in small doses, especially if it's seen as a "treat" for them, or if it is used only as an alternative and not the normal course of action.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

It's kind of fun to live on a busy street to have the hustle and bustle and always have action and never be bored. Other than that nice to have a quiet street lol.

Chana said...

It's not the window so much as what the window entails, I think- imagination.

Imagination is ruined by TV, because you are looking at someone ELSE's thoughts, someone else's ideas, instead of creatively putting together your own thoughts and ideas. Books are wonderful because the author never really puts you into a straitjacket- s/he tells you just enough so that you're interested, but you still have to use your mind quite a lot.

In proper dosage, TV and movies are wonderful. The window may grow less fascinating, but imagination never will. Television, if used as an element to support creativity and the urge to think, is a very useful tool. It all depends. :)