We have a long-standing Friday night tradition in our household that has evolved into a really fun night that the whole family looks forward to all week. It revolves around making a homemade pizza and watching a Netflix movie. Sometimes we mix it up and go to the library and check out a good old fashioned DVD (remember those?).
Brian and I made the decision early in our marriage not to invest in cable. While I was at my Physician Assistant program, we rented the lower flat of an old Victorian and the upper tenants talked us into splitting the bill for cable with us. I was appalled at the numbers of hours we wasted flipping through the channels, aimlessly searching for something worthwhile to watch. I also found I was powerless to walk by without flipping the darn thing on. So about two or three months in, we opted out.
Instead, we took walks. We talked, read, and studied. We took our time back and claimed it as only ours. It was liberating.
Now we’ve entered the season of life where we are parents and we’ve stuck to the media free route. Although I’ll be honest, I can see the draw now more than ever. When Jacob was about a year and a half, I would let him watch 15 minutes of baby Einstein or an old Mister Rogers while I tried to quickly get some dinner going. We both loved those 15 minutes! But I was disturbed by how even the most benign “show” turned my wiggly, hyperactive, funny, crazy toddler not into a non-responsive zombie before my very eyes.
He would sit there, completely still, eyes glazed over….
Then he started asking, demanding even, “I want a show!”. Several times throughout the day we’d have the same argument. He would grab my phone and cry wanting a video. I could see that it had a real hold on him in a way that did not seem healthy. So even though it was harder, I flipped the switch completely. It was pretty painful for both of us for a week or so I won’t lie.
But then, he stopped asking!
I saved special crafts for when I was cooking dinner, and eventually started including him (even at this young age) in the food prep which he loved. Our days are filled with the library, mucking around the coop, walking laps around the neighborhood, raking leaves. We constantly have dirt under our fingernails and flour on our floors. Jacob’s shoes wear out and his shins have bruises.
When we felt we had gotten back to a good balance of real life, we started making Friday’s our special days. Jacob and Brian will often ride the 2 miles to Brian’s work for a bagel. I pick him up, and he talks the rest of the day about movie night. “Is it dark yet mom?” he’ll ask, squishing his round little nose against our back door as he gazes into the yard.
I feel like one of the gifts we give our kids by doing this is anticipation.
So against the American grain is this idea of delayed gratification, and that joy can be found in the simplest of moments, that in awaiting the arrival of the fun is half the fun itself.
In due time, when darkness falls, our house is filled with the scent of dough rising. It’s not always idyllic. We’ve had Pizza Nights where the kids have been cranky, where no one could decide on the movie and the popcorn dessert has burned. But among the debris and the chaos Pizza Night has firmly withstood the test of time for several years now. It is an unquestionable event in Jacob’s mind that Fridays and pizza are one in the same. And I pray that however simple of an action; this decision to opt out of the mainstream necessity for media, will be one of the subtle ways our family life molds our little people.
If anyone is interested, please comment below and we will post our recipes for pizza and kettle corn.
Thanks for reading!