My deprived childhood


Heh, I googled “writing prompts” and got zillions of hits. I wonder what that says about the blogosphere… Anyway, this one particularly caught my eye:

“The things you didn’t have growing up define you.”

Well there was one thing I didn’t have growing up that sure as hell defined me then, and in some measure continues to define me today.

I was the weird kid who didn’t have a TV.

First world problems, I know. But back in the 1970s this was huge. You couldn’t just go watch stuff on youtube back then. If you didn’t have a TV, if you hadn’t watched last night’s episode of Welcome Back Kotter or Happy Days, or the god damn Saturday morning cartoons, you were totally cut out of 90% of the playground conversations going on around you.

This was extremely painful to me. I felt like such a freak. It was embarrassing. When other kids found out, at first they didn’t even believe it. And then they teased me. Worst of all? My parents didn’t even have a good reason for being TV-less. It wasn’t a matter of principle. We didn’t go to a Waldorf school or anything like that. Nor was it a question of money. They just didn’t feel like getting one. No matter how hard my sister and I begged, it just wasn’t gonna happen.

Today? You’d be surprised how often things like ABC Afterschool Specials or The Electric Company come up in conversation among the 40-something crowd. When that happens, I just blush and feel like an idiot.

Lordy, what I missed!

In case you are wondering:

  1. I don’t have cable and I restrict the amount of screen time my kids get. However they are allowed to watch pretty much anything they want on video and the internet. There is nothing their friends are watching that they aren’t. I am way more permissive than most of my friends.
  2. My parents now own a TV.

8 thoughts on “My deprived childhood

  1. My late husband’s family had a TV until he was about 6 years old; then it broke, and his parents refused to buy a new one for more than 10 years. They all went across the street to watch the moon landing, but aside from that, he went through most of the 60s and all the 70s without a TV. He always said it was the best thing his parents ever did in raising him. He and his next-youngest sibling grew up reading voraciously, a habit they retained into adulthood; the last two kids in his family got tv in their elementary school years, and they still hate to read.
    We started out with good intentions for our own children, but he’d probably be appalled at how much screen time his sons enjoy now!

    I found you through NaBloPoMo, btw

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I’ve often wondered how much correlation there is between screen time and bookworminess. I was a voracious reader, but my sister was most definitely not. And only one of my three kids got the bug. Hmmm… How did your husband feel about not having a TV when he was a kid?

    • While he didn’t really miss the tv shows themselves, he felt a little out of it in terms of not getting the cultural references — being the kid who didn’t get the jokes — which annoyed him, and he thought it was grossly unfair that his parents got a tv after he and his next-younger sibling had left the house.

  3. I was a non-trad college student and during that time I only ever rented videos — no TV. Then I met my husband, who seems to require TV as “white noise.” He’s also a sports fanatic. Sadly, I now watch countless of TV shows, no thanks to OnDemand, instant Netflix, and a DVR. We only got cable when they made that weird switch to…I don’t know — no TV antennas or whatever a few years ago.

    We did have a TV growing up, as well as OnTV, the precursor to cable. Oddly enough I always was, and still remain a bookworm! And I am definitely thankful for that!!!

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