Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The upside to losing cable channels

A couple of weeks ago, my wife had our cable TV downgraded to bottom-of-the-line, basic service. Hard times equal hard measures. Now we have just enough reception to receive a handful of useless channels. But while l miss my 24-hour news channels, I've discovered an upside: No more Disney Channel.

My son started watching the Disney Channel faithfully about a year ago. He'd watch it all day if we'd let him, which we have done on occasion — life gets busy. The problem is, this channel — which I thought was supposed to be about Snow White and Donald Duck— is simply not.

Not long ago, my wife and I started to notice some changes in our son. He'd say little things that didn't agree with us. He developed certain mannerisms, ways that seemed too mature for a 7-year-old. He became more concerned about things he considered "cool," and he'd flash bizarre hand signals and cop a pose whenever I tried to take his picture. Sometimes, he'd talk to my wife and I like we were little children and he was the adult in charge.

"What's up, yo, Dad," he'd say to me, slipping on a pair of sunglasses and tilting his ball cap to the side. "Am I cool or what?"

He stopped playing with his toys, and getting him to read beyond his required reading time (20 minutes daily) became a fight. We chalked it up to his preferring Gameboy DS and Wii.

One day while he watched TV, my wife and I looked on. We recognized the some of the mannerisms he'd been displaying. We heard some of the words and phrases he'd been using. There was no Winnie The Pooh. That's when I realized, The Disney Channel is not for little kids, it's for teenagers — and older teenagers at that.

Last week, I almost added the extended channels to our cable. I miss those premium channels, and I need my Morning Joe. But over the weekend, I noticed my son playing with his Hotwheels cars again, and he's back to watching his videos — Veggie Tales, Tom & Jerry, Dora. He pulled out his Moon Sand and molded a purple snowman, and he played with his Legos. Yesterday, I actually caught him reading a book!

That alone is reason enough to keep our home cable basic.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pre-church conversation: "You half'ta kill her first to get the baby out?"

This morning on our way to church I was in a funk, so we drove in silence until suddenly my son blurts out, "Daddy, I'm glad I'm a boy and not a girl."

I looked at my wife, knowing he was about to disrupt my bad mood, possibly even make me laugh.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Because when girls grow up they have babies. Then they gotta have their stomachs cut open to get it out."

I decided not to press him for further explanation, but he continued anyway.

"Is that true, Dad?" he asked. "Women have their stomachs cut open to get their babies out?"

"Yes, sometimes babies are removed from their mother's stomach."

I refused to use the words "cut out."

"Do they use knives to cut the baby out?" he asked.

I'm not a doctor, but the term "scalpel" came to mind. Not sure if scalpels are actually used during cesarean sections, so I didn't offer the term.

"Yes, I guess they do use knives of sorts," I said.

"I don't get it," he said. So when a woman has a baby, you half'ta kill her first to get the baby out? Then you bring her back to life and sew her up?"

My wife and I laughed a little. I guess he was right. Under normal circumstances, cutting open someone's stomach could possibly lead to death. But I didn't answer.

"So when they sew a woman back up, she automatically comes back to life?"

His pre-church conversation was a little too heavy for my taste, so I didn't egg him on by discussing anesthesiology. And no telling where the term "putting someone to sleep" might lead.

"Yes, I guess you could say they come back to life," I said.

"I'm so glad I'm a boy and not a girl."

"Well, I'm glad you're a boy, too."

The car returned to silence, and my funk was lifted. Just a little.