Thursday, October 25, 2012

Popular Shorthand

My siblings and I share a repertoire of cartoon references that serve as conversational shortcuts. Ours is extensive due to the inordinate hours we spent in front of the television, but it even helped with my peer group in college. You know, we COULD sit at Quackenbush's discussing whether Tom or Jerry was the 'bad" guy; we were of course far too cerebral for that conversation.

I am realizing that this is something I am denying my children. They will be a little odd the same way I am when someone talks about football or more recent tv. I mention this because I feel a ridiculous pride in not having a television, but I also see that there is a social cost. I think of this girl in college who was just a bit off, and at the time, people attributed it to her not having a television when she was growing up.

The good news is that they do have peers in the same situation, and maybe, depending on where they choose to live, they'll have some sort of television-clueless cohort.

We also have started bringing a few things into their lives. Ezra, in particular, sees recent movies, and as the girls get older, they will, too. Jason keeps us in touch with newer music, although still not top 40 stuff. (How I remember listening to Casey Casem on a weekend mornings so I would know what band to like now!) As we get farther along this path, we'll have to continue to pick and choose. I know I'm supposed to say that all this popular stuff should not matter; it's their characters I should care most about. But I remember how much more I enjoyed life when I began to understand what it was my peers were interested in and wanted to talk about. Belonging, or being able to choose to belong, is an awesome tool. We are herd animals; even if we do not want to move with the herd, we should at least teach our children how to recognize a few landmarks.


  1. It seems like limited screen time is becoming increasingly popular among parents. Even if they are missing a few touchstones, it won't be like when we were kids, I bet. But, it is good to know they've seen a few really important movies.

  2. It is so funny you mention that girl. I recently found her again on FB. She is an artist and has such a nice presence in the world. Sure it was a bit off in college, but really I think that turned out to be a good thing. Are you on FB anymore? I will send you her portfolio website. She has some beautiful paintings.

    1. I'm not on Facebook- it required too much screen time for me. :) I'm glad it all turned out well for her, as I do think of her often when my kids come out with some completely "off" reference.