By: Danny Thomas
Over the last part of this season, as summer wanes…
The mornings get colder
And all of these emotions
Sadness that summer is ending,
The end of free days…
Then there is the anticipation for school and fall weather…
And the approach of the holidays…
That strange languor
Summer is kind of used up.
The grass is browning, and the yard is hard.
Vacations and trips to the beach have been had…
The backyard pool, rescued from strange plant life and floating mysteries,
has been dried out, rolled up and put away.
The hectic schedule of summer activities
has given way to a limbo of in-between time…
Waiting for the new, hectic schedule of fall activities to kick in.
For me, as a kid, television was the savior of this time of year.
The end of summer blues were somewhat alleviated by that glowing gleaming god of lassitude the T.V.
Mine was not a T.V. family, in fact, for a good portion of my childhood we were completely without one.
I think my parents were tired of them breaking, so they just stopped buying them, my first lesson about planned obsolescence.
As a kid growing up in the eighties, a home without a television set was somewhat anomalous.
Thing is, I still remember so much television in the summer time, Gilligan’s Island and Brady Bunch on
repeat. The Banana Splits, Scooby Doo, and the gang, Flinstones… Starblazers… Then there was
Jabberjaw and Captain Caveman, which were essentially the same as Scooby Doo.. let’s not forget Bugs
and Daffy and all the Warner Bros gang. And eventually somewhere in there came MTV.
I guess I spent a lot of time hanging out at the neighbors’…
Those cartoons and programs, however oddly, helped to form
and inform my world view, my aesthetic, my sense of humor, and I don’t think that is an entirely bad
thing. For all of the various negative reinforcement you can find in many cartoons — about
stereotypes, gender roles, violence, etc – there are some good lessons too, determination, creative
problem solving, the value of humor, acceptance and certainly in many cases the artistry involved in the work itself is admirable…
As summer 2011 comes to a close,
And I uncover all the well-worn grooves of the feelings of the end of summer,
And as my kids make their way through seemingly infinite Pink Panthers, Phineas and Ferbs, and Mr.
Beans, not to mention innumerable viewings of Strawberry Shortcake, The Movie… peppered with the
occasional Xanadu, Funny Girl, or Singin’ In the Rain… maybe a foreign kid movie or
documentary here and there…
I find myself caught in a bit of an internal struggle
I am okay with them spending an afternoon watching T.V. – even if it’s sunny outside, but at the same time I feel guilty…
It seems to very much go against popular child rearing opinion to be okay with your kids zoning out in front of the T.V.
My kids are active, imaginative, creative and vital human beings,
I’m not worried about lethargy, or rotting their brains.
Obviously, I have the typical parental instinct to tell my kids to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather,
and in fact, to get out there and enjoy it with them (when I’m not buried in laundry, dishes, or other
But, If we’ve spent all morning riding bikes and building lego spaceships, then I have no qualms with
letting the little lugs spend a bit of the afternoon zoning out in front of the tube.
There, I said it.