The Rockwood Files: Confessions of a TV junkie

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

There are lots of things I love about fall – the smell of chimney smoke, the rustle of red leaves on the driveway and the feeling of frozen, crunchy grass underfoot in the morning. And even though it’s not sophisticated or smart or culturally correct, I love, love, love television season premieres. There – the ugly, shallow truth is out.

Tonight, on the first official evening of fall, I should have been reading a book or scrapbooking my kids’ photos or organizing a closet, but I wasn’t. I was parked in front of the tube with my husband and fellow television junkie because three of our favorite comedies were kicking off the fall season with new shows. We watched and laughed and hit our DVR rewind button on the funniest parts. If this makes us brainless and lazy, I guess that’s just a label we’ll have to bear – along with about a gazillion other people trying to unwind after a long day. At least we’ll have lots of company.

Here’s why I look forward to a little tube time at the end of the day. It’s my only time for “nothing.” The rest of the day is booked solid: get ready for school time, drop-off time, work time, lunch time, pick-up from school time, snack time, homework time, dinner time, soccer practice, bath time, story time and finally the kids’ bed time. After all that time so packed with activity, a mom and dad could use a little “nothin’ time.” Time to sit, watch and do nothing but laugh a little or lose yourself in a world that exists only in pictures on a screen.

While some would say it’s lazy, I say it’s natural. Everybody loves a good story. We crave them from the time we’re very small, even before we learn to talk. When those stories revolve around interesting characters, it’s even better. We get to know them and their quirks, flaws, strengths and dreams. There have been moments on television that made me cry, made the hair stand up on my arm, or made me laugh so hard I could barely catch my breath.

That being said, I’ll be the first to admit there’s a lot of trash on television. With as many channels as are now available, it’s inevitable that some shows on the line-up are going to be stupid, distasteful and even immoral. Once my kids are old enough to stay up during prime time, we probably won’t be able to watch as much television because it’s often filled with innuendo and concepts kids aren’t ready to see. Parents who aren’t supervising what their kids are watching on TV are simply not doing their job. Period.

But I think of it this way. When my husband drags me to one of those huge buffet restaurants, there’s always at least one dish out there that I think is pretty gross and wouldn’t eat on a bet. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the barbecue chicken or the coconut cream pie. It just means I skip over the dishes I don’t like. Television is a big buffet where, if you focus on the good stuff, you can still come away satisfied.

This week is packed with season premiers, and I find myself working a little faster during the day to get things done so I can enjoy my “nothing” time without chores or work hanging over my head. Technological wonders like TiVo and DVR make it possible to watch a show, commercial-free, whenever I feel like it or pause live television so I can sprint upstairs to calm someone down after a scary dream. Then, when all the kids are settled and snoozing and the lunches are prepared for the next hectic morning, I can curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a remote and get a big, relaxing dose of “nothin’.” Popcorn, anyone?