This is what it looks like to win the lottery.
Of course Nora and Emily didn't win the lottery, but as far as they are concerned, something just as wonderful happened. Ryan and I allowed the TV back into our home. While they were sleeping, he placed it back into the empty cabinet. It stayed their all the next day, unnoticed. Then my niece Layla, who was over for a visit, asked us, "Where is your TV?" Nora replied that we didn't have one. "Oh really?" I asked. "Nora, why don't you go and open the doors..." It was even better than winning a golden ticket. As long as I live I will never forget the smiles and jumps of joy.
In retrospect, the act of taking it away for 6 months and then returning it has been a positive step. I simply had to let go of the idea that we HAD to live without the TV, that I can be a good mom and let them have a little entertainment now and then. What choice did I have, really? With the onset of summer vacation, and the increase in my work schedule, I had to find an activity that both girls could enjoy when its too hot to play in the yard (or when I have to shower, for that matter).
I should clarify something at this point, the box is back but not the TV. Basically what the girls have access to at this point are DVDs that I've screened for content. I'm still very fussy about what they watch and how much they watch. I will not expose them to countless acts of violence, endless commercials, and plot lines that focus on self-centered motivations. Everything they see is designed to teach good morals, has an educational value, and is filled with music to help Emily learn to speak.
They are also, for the most part, on a timed viewing schedule. No more days filled with TV from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Officially TV time is from 3 until 5 pm, although on occasion it has been from 9 until 11 if something is scheduled for the afternoon. No one is allowed to eat in front of the TV, and even though it could be visible from the dining room, it must be turned off for meals. Because it was gone for so long, I almost never get an argument from either girl about these rules. They accept it as the way it goes, at least so far.
The best part of all is that unlike in the past, the TV is helping Emily gain some new verbal skills. All of the shows she likes, from Dora the Explorer to Little Einsteins, have a number of songs that repeat in every episode. Emily has learned the words to most of the songs, and those words are beginning to pop up in conversation. Instead of simply asking for toothpaste, for example, she asks for Dora Dora Dora the Explorer paste. When I go to drive off in the van, she and Nora yell, "Blast-off!" Just today she pointed at my coffee mug, which has a picture of a mountain, and said, "Look...mountain!"
I don't mind the girls watching their two hours of TV a day, especially since they are both up for 12 to 14 hours at at time. There is still plenty of time for running, for reading, and for play. Once school starts, I may feel differently, and put it back in the basement for another retirement period. But, in the meantime, I too think I might take advantage of having the box. While I haven't done so yet, I'm sure there's a movie or two Ryan and I would like to watch after the girls go to bed. Twilight, anyone?