Sunday, April 15, 2007

The perils of life

There have been a couple of posts on other blogs I read about getting rid of television, or at least avoiding it at all costs.

The Spirit's Sword: The Downhill Slide

Catholic Dads: Food for Thought from a New Guy

Usually, a coincidence like that would lead me to wonder if God is working on me in some way. But this time I see it from a different angle. On the Catholic Dads site, the father notices the zombie like stares and the endless parade of nothing across the TV. And how life is better without it during Lent.

My wife and I used to notice the same thing. How our life was holier without watching the tube. And how raunchy it seemed again when we watched it after a time away.

But perhaps a blessing of a large family is that you just don't have time for too many vices.

Sometimes my wife wonders how others manage to keep an immaculate house or have time to mend clothes and to read. But I suspect our kids spend much more time interacting with her during the day because they aren't camped out in front of the TV. And not because they don't want to, but because we reign it in. Our oldest, #3 and #5 are TV heads. #2 usually doesn't pay much attention to it (being blind has its advantage there) and #4 gets bored with it. But #5 is at the age that he would spend all day in front of it if we let him.

So why even bother keeping it around? What value is there in it?

I find it useful as a tool to reach certain children. My daughter read all the Lord of the Rings and I finally read the books too. So as a reward for her hard work in school and as special daddy-daughter time, we are watching the LOTR movies. It is something we enjoy doing together, noting where the script leaves the book and how we imagined the characters.

But it can be more than enjoyment. Number 3 is seven years old and quite a challenge. He is very athletic but doesn't have the drive to succeed. He gets easily discouraged when the wrestling match doesn't go well and jealous when his brother does better than him. The tears flow and frustration sets it. I try to push him, encourage him and point out his strong points. But it doesn't reach him. Basically I don't know how to relate to the gifted yet undetermined boy. (as I was quite the opposite)

But he has an emotional side that is easily reached through books and movies. He will often get very sad and teary when a good movie touches his heart. So it was the other night when we watched "Facing the Giants." It is a Christian movie, very good for the budget (read: some of the acting was shallow) and didn't get too preachy; about a high school football coach that is struggling in many areas of life.

In his struggle to reach his under-achieving team, he realizes it isn't about football but about life and glorifying God in all we do. And he challenges one particularly talented but lazy boy to go beyond his self imposed limits. He does this by blindfolding him so he doesn't know where to "quit".

It struck me as similar to my boy thinking he can't do something. In one wrestling match last year he was wrestling his best match so far. But his opponent came back to tie the match and send it to overtime where the first point wins. My son got the advantage when the other boy tried to shoot in for his leg. He was on top and all he had to do was to break the boy's grip and spin to the back for the 2 point takedown. But just at the point of victory he gave up, not realizing how close he was to winning.

He thought he couldn't do any more and he was right. So he gave up.

Now I am not overly concerned about a lost wrestling match for a seven year-old. But more so for what life may throw his way and his ability to withstand the challenge of living a holy life.

So after the movie I was able to talk to him about how that football player was able to do more than he thought possible. And how I know he can do the same. God had given him talent and it was up to him to use it fully, not just in sports but in life.

So, to end the long-winded post, TV proved to be a tool for me to better understand my son. A tool for him to see how others can struggle and overcome. Without being able to use someone else's inspiration and story, I would be at a loss. And without the medium, I would have trouble relating it to my son.


Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Bear here, pay no attention to the signature.

Television, it seems to me, is like many of the other modern technolgoies: it is neither good nor bad, it simply is. It gives us certain abilities and powers, nothing more. It is what is done with these abilties that is good, or ill. The same medium gives us both EWTN, and late night Friday.

The challenge to men like us is to learn to separate the two, and use what is good while guarding against what is not. If it can help you with your son, be glad and use it for what you can, always being mindful.

Anonymous said...

Resonating entry. Just had to add that when we turned TV off (we use it fairly judiciously now), the consumerist mind set was kept at bay and the dissatisfaction with our "life" etc. was kept to a distinct minimum.

I do appreciate what Puff said as well.

KaleJ said...

Bear, that is kind of what I was getting at. It is a tool, not evil in itself but evil when it replaces God as the center of our life.

And I sort of feel a loss that our kids can't enjoy the Saturday morning cartoons like so many of the past generation did. Not me as we didn't have a TV growing up. But I do fondly remember the road runner, porky pig and pals.