I knew there would be adjustments having my mother move in with us.
In the nursing home the temperature was kept at a balmy 212 degrees. We keep the house around 65 degrees during waking hours and let it drop to 60 degrees at night since we are not subsidized by Medicare/Medicaid. I've pushed it up to 70 degrees but still my mother walks around with a hood over her head like a sullen teenager.
I knew the boys would have to be more diligent about not leaving toys on the floor since my mother uses a walker. The girls would have to stop leaving the mass of "stuff" they generate in the bathroom (how many hair and cosmetic products can they use?). They have all made admirable efforts to control the noise level which is not easy in a house with four kids.
We knew when my mother moved in our days of being broadcast television-free were over. The kids were excited as they began to run through the shows they would "finally" get to watch. Even I had to admit it would be great to see football again and to watch the World Cup but I approached this new frontier with trepidation.
Now a month into television, I fear I'm losing my mind.
There's a great line in the original movie "The Manchurian Candidate" when one character says, there are two types of people in the world, those who walk into a room and turn a television on and those who turn it off. Years ago, I was the former. I grew up in a house where there were more televisions than people. Television was the white noise I used to drown out the chaos of my neighborhood while I studied. Then I started calculating the amount of time I spent "not really watching" and realized why I had trouble getting anything done.
So for six years, we've had the freedom of no commercial tv. We watch loads of movies and shows from Netflix, the library or online. YouTube has provided me with a rich buffet of pop culture references. I've read enough reviews and overhead conversations that I was fairly conversant in tv speak like who was competing on "Dancing with the Stars". I began reading copiously again and finding time to write. Ah it was wonderful.
Now the television is on ALL day- The View, King of Queens and Everyone Loves Raymond reruns, Deal or No Deal, Oprah or Ellen, The 5 o'clock Eyewitness News, the 5:30 Eyewitness News, the 6 o'clock Eyewitness news, ABC News, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and the rest of the evening is a blur. I ran from the room when the "Conveyor Belt of Love" premiered.
It's not just the programming or the commercials but the conversation about the television. I don't want to speculate on what was going on with Mariah Carey at some award show or wonder what would make some guy kick a puppy, a video shown repeatedly on the news or reflect on past "America Funniest Home Videos", a show I never watched but this doesn't stop my mother from conversing with me as though I was in the know.
The kids are so over having television. They are actually complaining. My son is horrified and disgusted with the evening news and wonders why grandma can't just listen to NPR. I'll second that. My youngest doesn't understand why grandma can't share the television.
Television at it's best can be educational and thought-provoking. I enjoy the communal aspect of watching. Years ago walking through my East Village neighborhood during the World Cup, I was able to follow what was going on as televisions were set up at every cafe, bodega and open windows as I strolled. But wondering which woman will get tossed off "The Bachelor" strains even my expansive curiosity and imagination.
I'd opt for putting a set in her room (which used to be my dreamed of office, but that's another blog post) but given her state, she would never leave her room. I'm hoping to slowly wean her off but like most addicts, it won't be pretty. Hey she might even learn to use the computer an effort to get a fix off of Hulu.
Well I have to run, it's time for King of Queens.