Today I was in a blog reading mood and found myself reading a lot of Freshly Pressed material on WordPress. It’s something I only recommend if you have a chunk of time because it’s easy to get lost reading essays and articles with greatly varying topics. It always amazes me to see the polarization of thought on topics that on the surface seem non-controversial. But maybe that’s because I love reading the comments, which tend to be favored by argumentative types.
One of the blogs I was reading had an essay about how Disney, specifically their programming geared towards tweens, was ruining today’s youth. The writer discussed how her daughter started acting like a sassy Disney character and the trouble it caused. It was very well-written, and the comments ranged from the “you’re-absolutely-right” variety to “quit-letting-the-tv-babysit-your-kids” scoldings. Thankfully my kids are beyond the Disney and Nickelodeon show ages, although I have to admit I still laugh at Spongebob cartoons and I liked several of the shows my kids watched when they were younger. (Disclaimer: Some were horrible!)
My family enjoys watching television together, and thanks to Netflix, we breeze through entire seasons in a few weeks. Well, the kids do anyway—while I’m at work they watch episodes without me so I miss too many to know what’s going on after a while. We’ve had the summer of Supernatural, where we all watched Sam and Dean battle Lucifer and all sorts of other demon bad guys. Then there was Lost, where I was literally lost in a few short days because I didn’t get to see several episodes and just gave up. We all enjoy a good laugh together at the antics of Sean and Gus on Psych, Jeremy, Richard and James on Top Gear (the UK version—not the US one) and Darrell and I like getting caught up on Castle episodes. All of these series are mindless fiction, I suppose, but our family has bonded over these silly shows. It’s not a substitute for other family bonding moments, like taking the dogs for a walk in the park or sharing a meal together, but with teenagers you sometimes take what you can get. And I refuse to feel guilty about it.
Emily is in eighth grade and has come into an age where I think I drive her crazy. To be honest, sometimes that feeling is mutual. Not that we don’t get along, we do, but most of the time things I try to talk to her about she tunes out simply because they are coming from me. Over the past year, Emily has come to love the new (2005) Doctor Who series and basically all things British. Knowing that I probably shouldn’t be wasting any more of my time watching television, I started watching Doctor Who with her, beginning with the first episode with Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who. It began because I had wanted to see what she was spending so much time and her Amazon gift cards watching. Halfway through David Tennant’s Doctor Who (with a few Matt Smith/Karen Gillan episodes watched out of order) I’ve become a fan in no small part just because Emily loves it so much. My daughter and I have actual conversations about Dalaks, the Tardis and these creepy weeping angel statues.
Do we still have typical teenage girl/Mom arguments and attitudes? Yes, we do. We also have this neutral ground that seems to balance some of the negative. And when it’s just the two of us home for the evening, we’ll have Doctor Who marathons over chocolate chip pancakes. I love listening to her bubble over about something in an episode or some random trivia she’s found about a character. Gone is the moody teen, replaced with the carefree Emily I know is in there still underneath the stress of homework and all things middle school. In the big picture, it’s a small thing, I know. I suppose it would be great to be bonding over world peace instead of something as trivial as a television show. But for now, for just an hour or two, pass the chocolate chip pancakes and the remote. We’ve got a date with the Doctor.