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.

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