Let me back up.
A little over a year ago, I began thinking to myself, "Geez, Lindsey is growing up awfully fast." She was becoming rather sassy, quick to make snappy comebacks or snide remarks. "She's 9 going on 19," I thought to myself.
We've always monitored what they've watched, but hadn't really realized the impact of it. Then I sat down with her and watched an episode of "Good Luck Charlie."
Now, as far as Disney shows go, in my opinion "Good Luck Charlie" isn't even the worst of them. At least in this sitcom the parents are present. In most Disney channels, there are no parents present; kids are at boarding school, parents are continually away on business trips, or guardianship has been turned over to an older brother or nanny barely older than the kids on the show. If there are adults present, they are usually dumb, easily fooled and frequently mocked.
At least in "Good Luck Charlie" there are parents present, and the teenagers even turn to their parents for advice and guidance. Except that apparently the parents like to respond in kind with snappy comebacks and clever one-liners. The other characters respond in kind.
I wasn't very happy with the viewing of these Disney sitcoms but had a hard time finding alternatives, even with over 1,000 channels on the TV. The cartoon channels on Disney and Nickelodeon weren't any better; the cartoon's responses to the disrespectful behavior was just more exaggerated. Both girls were beyond watching channels that they considered "kiddie" channels. No more Dora the Explorer in this home.
Then my sister came to visit in October, and mentioned that she didn't like how disrespectful the kids were to us. I talked over the source of this with Wayne, but once again, we were challenged to find other viewing options. We had already restricted TV watching to weekends only so they were only exposed to television 4 to 5 hours per week, total. (I say "only" knowing that the average American child spends 28 hours per week watching television. That's more than 1 full day per week.)
And then in November Lindsey had a flurry of disrespectful behavior that made the characters on the Disney show look like angels.
That was it.
I immediately blocked the Disney channel, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon and other "kids" networks. I put a plea out on Facebook asking other parents for non-Disney alternatives, and set the DVR to record "Little House on the Prairie," "Family Ties" and "I Love Lucy" whenever they played.
At first, I was met with resistance. There was much gnashing of teeth and rolling of eyes.
And then there was some tittering. And giggling, followed by outright laughter.
"I Love Lucy" struck a particular chord with both girls, but especially with Lindsey. Lucy's antics kept them both in stitches. They marveled at the rotary telephone, the "modern" conveniences of her 1950's kitchen, and oooh'd and aaah'd at the dresses worn by Lucy and Ethel. Having Rock Hudson or Harpo Marx guest star on the show meant nothing to them, and required explanation.
Lindsey asked for "I Love Lucy" DVDs for Christmas, and they've been played every weekend ever since Santa brought them.
Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems that we are getting less backtalk, fewer snappy remarks and more actual conversation and fewer obnoxious reactions.
And now, if you say something to Lindsey like "You need to practice your viola, Lindsey," instead of being met with stomping of feet and histrionics, you may hear "Eeeooooo...." with a little lip curl the way Lucy Ricardo does it and some slightly crossed eyes.
And that's okay with me.