media · slice of life

The TV Works Fine – #sol16

I thought about writing about how I’m so proud Isabelle can write her name in Hebrew (albeit she writes in Hebrew from left to right, instead of right to left)! Look at her practicing it this morning when we were in-between speech and occupational therapy appointments this morning.
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However, I’m posting about something much more sinister that I do when we’re at therapy. It’s doesn’t actually cause harm to anyone, but it’s a bit underhanded. Here’s a hint:
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Isabelle had a half-hour break between speech and OT appointments so the two of us retreated to the waiting room. She was the only child in the kids’ section of the waiting room so I turned off the TV. I’ve done this many times in the past three years since I’d rather have quiet time with her that doesn’t involve her staring at a screen while Sprout blares. (Also, there’s another television about 30 feet away in the adult part of the waiting room that broadcasts CNN. It’s maddening to sit with CNN and Sprout playing at the same time.)
Isabelle never complains when I turn-off the waiting room’s television. (She’s the kind of kid who has less than 60 minutes of screen time each day so she’s not dependent on it for entertainment.) However, other kids notice the lack of television as soon as they get to the children’s section of the waiting room.
After Isabelle went back with her occupational therapist at 10:30, two kids came into the waiting room with their parents. The three-year-old son noticed something was awry immediately. “Where’s the TV?!!?”
“It’s not on today,” the mom told her son.
“I want the TV!” the son yelled.
“Well, they must’ve turned it off for a reason,” mom responded.
Her son did everything he could to show how mad he was by crying and yelling.
It was at this point I could’ve done told the family I turned off the TV, stood up on the chair, and turned it back on. But I didn’t. Instead, I watched the situation unfold.
“I wanna your phone!” the son told his father.
“I don’t have any games on my phone,” dad replied.
“I wanna play games,” the boy said.
“I don’t have any games for you on here. I’m not lying.” (Why would the father tell his son he wasn’t lying? Does he usually lie to him? Questions I will never have answered.)
This continued for a couple more minutes. Just when I thought they were going to ask the receptionist to turn on the TV, something amazing happened. The family started talking to each other. The parents and kids talked, sang songs, and played finger games for the next 20 minutes until their son’s speech therapist called him back for his appointment.
Today’s result was the scenario I always hope for when kids discover the television isn’t on. Only once have I ever seen a parent talk to the receptionist to ask for the TV to be turned back on. Occasionally, a parent hands over their phone to their child, but usually, the parent(s) and kid(s) talk to each other. So really, I’m not doing anything that’s detrimental to anyone. I’m giving myself a little peace and quiet while helping families actually talk to each other. (I know, I know, it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t have an agenda. But I kind of do.)
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22 thoughts on “The TV Works Fine – #sol16

  1. Oh Stacey- if we had had children at the same time and lived in the same place we would have been good friends. I think this is more delicious that underhanded. I love your kind of agenda.

  2. I can not tell you how much I love this post. Love the way you wrote it, love the suspense of it, love the outcome of it. (Maybe percolating a picture book???) I am sitting right now listening to 15 basketball players play thumper and games in my dining room while their phones are in a “Phone Bowl” in the kitchen. Yep, they roll their eyes, and I have accepted my place as “that Mom”, but there’s a big difference in how they act!

  3. This post reminds me of the book “Black Out” by John Rocco. It’s not until the screens disappear that we first realize how we are addicted to them and then we seem to enter this new territory: each other. What a lovely slice of life, Stacey. 🙂

  4. I’ve seen those meltdowns so many times. They are sad, really. The constant technological stimulation with the tv, phones, tablets, handheld gaming systems. I’m so lucky my boys aren’t like that. They are conversationalists (and major flirts) in waiting rooms. What you’re doing with Isabel is what others should take note of. I don’t think it’s sinister at all. There should be more people in the world of waiting rooms doing the same! Sidenote, I never knew Hebrew was written right to left. Great little detail that brought me into the slice a little further.

  5. You go girl!!!!!! I love this. I am one of those who worry about all of this technology and screen time for little ones health and social and emotional well being. So lovely you got to see the result of your hard work, standing on a chair is determination for the cause. Well done. 🙂

  6. I’m excited that your seemingly small effort gets results, Stacey. I am always sad to see the many parents walking in the neighborhood with their young children, some in strollers, and the parents are looking down at their phones. It doesn’t seem as if they’re even enjoying the time, but doing a “duty” to exercise & get the child out for fresh air. Good for you for making a difference.

  7. I feel like TVs are so pervasive, and it’s frustrating that we can’t get away from them. At least, we still have the power to turn them off. I’m so glad that you did and that the family was able to work through a struggle (and you let them) and get to talking and playing with one another.

  8. I want to do this ALL THE TIME, and I don’t mean in children’s waiting rooms… I mean in adult waiting rooms. Why the need for the blaring noise? I get sensory overload. You’re awesome for being an undercover agent of face-to-face time.

  9. How disheartening that of all offices, a speech therapy clinic would have tv playing. The one I visit (they also do occupational too) has a tv that simply plays a slideshow of still images with reminders and other parent info. They have lots of kids books out and a few toys. Unless a parent passes over personal electronics, the kids are always engaged with talking to/communicating with the the various other people in the room.

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