Life Without the Tube

This article on about the TV writers going on strike got me thinking about my own TV experience.

We grew up without a TV. It wasn’t for any religious or moral reason – we just didn’t have one. I resented it sometimes, especially when my friends at school would be talking about what happened on Saved by the Bell, 90210 or Party of Five, and I’d have no clue what they were talking about.

When my friends would invite me over to spend the night, I would look forward to watching a movie, something we rarely had the chance to do. I never understood why they “didn’t feel like” watching TV. Who wouldn’t want to?

I think raising us kids without a TV was one of the best decisions my parents ever made. We were forced to create our own fun. We spent thousands of hours in the backyard. I spent a lot of time reading. We spent a lot of time playing house, restaurant, school, office … you know … the “fun” grown-up activities. (“Is this a good activiteee?”)

We were always having to come up with new ways to entertain ourselves when most normal kids were watching TV. Some of them are quite memorable:

1. Go search the basement (an adventure in itself) and find all sorts of dress-up clothes and items to serve as props for the melodramas we would make up. Next we would round up as big an audience as we could gather (usually just my parents, with the occasional appearence of Oreo, our tail-less cocker spaniel, may she rest in peace.) We would then perform the melodrama, complete with multiple acts, full set and costume changes, and an encore.

2. Compete in the final game of the Ping Pong World Championships.

3. Make gourmet “salads” in our sandbox, including (but not limited to) shrubbery leaves, poisonous red berries, dandelions and sand.

4. Gang up on my sister Sara. This entailed nothing more than the remaining three of us telling her we were “ganging up” on her, which would inevitably make her cry.

5. Ride our bikes around the block for hours at a time, pretending that when we rode in front of our house, we were riding in front of the judges. (What they were judging us on I haven’t the slightest clue.)

6. Rearrange the furniture in our bedrooms. This occurred regularly every couple weeks.

7. Record ourselves singing on tape and then play it back and pretend we were famous singers.

8. Find all the decks of cards in the house (we probably had at least 30!) and construct enormous card castles. They usually covered most of the living room.

Ahhh those were the days. I have a TV now. I’m thankful for it because I’m single and there are, quite frankly, times when I’d rather watch a TV show than dwell on the fact that I haven’t yet found Mr. Right. But I’m thankful, too, for my TV-less childhood. It made for some amazing memories. And it now often makes for hysterically funny family meals when we reminicse about the old days when we lived life without, to quote my mom, the boob tube. [Insert snicker here.]

4 thoughts on “Life Without the Tube

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  1. I have no idea how your mother did it. Although I hate to admit it, sometimes I use the TV as a cheap babysitter so I can have some “mommy time”. And my kids probably wouldn’t have learned as much Spanish as they know if it weren’t for Dora. I love your funny memories. Your family has to be the coolest ev-er.

  2. I LOVED reading this entry. It totally brought me back to my childhood. Even though we always had a tv, my mom was super strict with it, and I remember hating that. But now, I feel like when I have children, I won’t have a tv (but a projector, for movies!), because I can see what a waste of time it can be. Plus, even Sesame Street isn’t as educational as it was when I was little. Anyway, I loved reading all your memories…I remember I felt all “cool” when we got to go hang out at your house…my big cool cousins. 🙂 I sure do love the Tscham Fam.

  3. I love this Becky. Recently I was working as a teacher at a Waldorf preschool, and I got to thinking a lot about the tv thing. The Waldorf philosophy focuses a lot on how important it is for kids to develop their imaginations and creativity early in childhood instead of trying to intellectualize them at a young age. They also talk a lot about the detrimental effects that having a TV can have on a child, and not just what they watch, but also just the fact that TVs are really overstimulating for their brains, and tv shows do the thinking for the child, while free-play gives them the opportunity to develop a strong imaginative world that will ultimately help them when intellectual things are introduced later on. (For example the things they are learning won’t be as boring because they know how to use their imagination and look at things from a different angle.) Anyways, I decided that I don’t want to have a tv in my house when my kids are growing up, at least until they’re older. It made me think of your family, and the close bond you guys have with each other, and I know how intelligent all of you are too. Makes sense. I think that was an awesome decision on your parents part. I don’t watch TV now, and really, its over-rated. Love and Hugs! Abbey 🙂

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