I grew up in a family of what could easily be called a colorful cast of characters. I often thought we should all be in a book, but I didn’t consider writing that book until I became a parent. As a new mother, I was obsessed with the role that television played in the lives of families since I had been hooked on the plug-in drug most of my life. I knew I had to write about it.
When I was pregnant, my husband and I argued about what to name our child, because the name I liked had also been the name of my husband’s first dog. We went back and forth about it and myriad other issues, as well, except for one. I knew with certainty that I didn’t want our child to watch any television, even videos, until he was 6 years old. After that, I planned to limit my child’s TV watching to two hours a week. I suppose it was extreme, but I wanted our family to be close and connected, and for our child to know those around him better than he knew the Teletubbies.
Poor Disney. It seems that its Baby Einstein DVD series might not be a magic and miraculous invention to make babies smarter, after all. If Frederick Zimmerman and Dimitri Christakis’ latest research out the University of Washington is accurate, then babies acquire language better by interacting with real people instead of staring at a screen. What a concept! No wonder Disney is so upset.
I’d always longed for a Brady Bunch family, complete with a Florence Henderson mother, all neat and orderly, pleasing and perfect. Much of my childhood was spent in front of the television set, so I’d seen enough TV families to know what a “normal” mother was — and it sure wasn’t mine. In fact, all my life people have said to me, “Your mom’s a real character.” This was usually after my mother had done something memorable, like showing up at a city council meeting to protest a high-rise building. “We don’t need another phallic symbol designed by males insecure with their genitalia,” she once shouted at the mayor.