A Month Without TV

Days 17-23

Day 17: Greg manages to find a loophole: He watches ESPN at 6 in the morning -- before I get up -- to see the highlights of the games he missed. If I catch him, I usually turn off the TV and ask him to read about his teams in the newspaper. Sometimes, though, I give him a break and let him watch for a bit -- after all, the rule is no TV at nighttime, and he's a real early bird anyway.

Day 18: I have gotten very strict about reading schedules, demanding that Greg read each night for 30 minutes and Doug for 20. This was a struggle at first, but after shutting their bedroom doors and putting my foot down, I've noticed that their reading has been improving. When I ask Greg specific questions about the plots and characters in his books, I can tell by his answers that he's comprehending more and more.

Day 21: An amazing thing happened today, exactly three weeks into the experiment. It was parent-teacher conference day, and Greg's teacher, Miss Tierney, told us that his reading seemed suddenly to be improving by leaps and bounds. She wondered if we had been doing anything different at home. I told her about the ban, and she thought it was great -- she wasn't at all surprised at the connection between the new rules and the improvement in the classroom. I feel an extreme sense of accomplishment!

Day 22: The boys have begun to invent games to play with each other in the living room. They set up goals made of couch pillows and play until both of them are drenched with sweat. I'll still find them sneaking a peek at the TV now and again -- they go into my room, shut the door, and keep the volume turned low. They know they're breaking the rules, though, and don't fuss too much when I shut off the set and reprimand them.

Day 23: It's hard to come home exhausted and still try to be creative when the kids get antsy. There are nights I feel like just turning on the TV and taking a nap. But I'm trying my best to avoid sabotaging this experiment, since it really has been having a positive effect on our family. I've started suggesting getting out of the house when I sense a moment of television withdrawal; a new favorite is taking a walk to the local bookstore. Since the kids are allowed to watch on weekend mornings, I can try to get some extra shut-eye then.

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