Posted by: Mark Nielsen | November 19, 2008

TV Tune Out Day

We do it once a week. No TV, no computer, no handheld games (Leapster – a mighty fine product). No screens at all (except at school, if they give him the opportunity.)

And my six-year-old son tries to finagle out of TV Tune Out Day, every week.

I stood my ground today, though. So in the morning before school, among other things, we actually talked for a change. He told me about an author visit at school yesterday, who talked about “setting” and “characters”. Is this my kid, or what?! … caring about the essentials of writing fiction already, and not even halfway through first grade yet. Out of that conversation, I reminded him that he knew other authors, too.

For one: I told him his late maternal grandmother, Eileen Tressler Nickerson, was a psychologist and department chair at Boston University, who wrote and/or edited numerous books.

For something more on his level, Donna Kae Nelson, his godmother, has illustrated a number of children’s books, also. And her artwork has also donned the cover and chapter break pages for Jan Karon’s bestselling Mitford  book series (not that Donna was paid the kind of money she should have gotten, given the series’ success).

Then Graham and I read one of the books Donna did pastels for: I Gave Thomas Edison My Sandwich, by Floyd C. Moore. He stuck with it for awhile, but the book was probably meant for an older kid, so his attention waned a bit. Plus the writing isn’t what I’d consider stellar. The illustrations rock, though!

After school, and his after-care program, he tried again to shift the rest of TV Tune Out to Friday night. I said no, and he pouted. See, …he’s already habituated to coming home, hopping on the computer (with permission), and being generally non-interactive for as long as we let him (like till his bath time). All the more reason to institute the controlled exercise of tuning out once a week.

So tonight, it was a dramatic round of the playing-card-based version of Deal or No Deal. (Yeah, I know… a tv gameshow… but whatever! It let us work on our acting skills.) Mom was taking on Howie Mandel’s and the banker’s roles, Graham was contestant (“Mr. Nielsen”), and I was the lovely models, and also all three of his helpers (“Father”, son “Chris”, and his wife, who also was not named). It was a stitch. Took a long time, with all the goofing off, and he found it necessary to jump all over me whenever I talked in my wife voice. He won $90,000, but only cuz Sue was making such stingy banker offers.

After that, I introduced him to one of my favorite childhood pastimes: tumbling dominos. He has two good sets, and we used some small cardboard jewelry/gift boxes to make stairs. After some early nudges and accidents, he got better at it, and we had fun setting up new patterns and tricks. Gotta love dominos! Gotta love those fine-motor activities and pre-math skills!

So it may not be much, but I’m beginning to like this one day a week where we gently force him to use his imagination, and play with his neglected toys, and remember what it’s like to live with human beings.


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