#18. What do you get when you mix socks, underwear, chores, great books, and television? You get one item from this list removed to a closet. Really. The closet.
Not you, Isabel. Sam and Clyde. You know how they are.
The guys bounce like Tigger. They think they’re being complimented.
How about “chores?” I do stuff.
Tons. You’re a huge help. Pop pats my hand. But I think we can get the boys emptying baskets and setting the table.
I tap the next item. Read aloud?
We want to read aloud every day after supper. To do it right we’ll need a stack of good books, so when we finish one, we won’t have a gap before we start another.
I love the read aloud plan.
Mom and Dad believed in the power of read alouds to tie a family together. Here’s how it worked: We’d have one book that all of us would lie around and listen to. Dad was reading the “Frances Tucket” series. I’d missed it when it first came out and loved it. We’d gotten to the 4th book. I know the boys didn’t get it completely, but they liked being part of the MomDadIsabel group; it stretched their listening attention span. They’d cuddle up and settle in ‘til the reader said That’s it for now or they fell asleep. I KNOW they didn’t understand all the plot twists in Toad for Tuesday, but they loved Wharton and George; they cried when they thought George was going to be eaten by the fox. On my own I read other books too. And Mom and Dad also read simpler books to Clyde and Sam when I wasn’t around. If Pop and Mimi read aloud, that will make me happier.
And this supper table one?
No more eat and run. We want us to have discussions.
We sit and talk already.
Well, we need to PLAN to sit and talk. Right now we jump up because a game or show’s on television. Pop circles the word TELEVISION. We need to cut down. He scribbles tiny numbers in the notebook margin.
We mostly watch Sesame Street, ball games, The Great British Baking Show, ball games, The Electric Company, ball games, Rachel Maddow, ball games, Carmen Sandiego, ball games, Wild Kratts, ball games.
Which shows? I ask. I’m hoping it isn’t Little House on the Prairie. Crazily enough, I grew up without knowing this series. With Pop and Mimi, we’re binge-watching all the seasons. (Mom would have disapproved; but all five of us love it.) Also I’m addicted to Earth to Ned: Picture a four-armed alien hosting a talk show with human guests, postponing his invasion of Earth. Think puppets, silliness, irony, attitude—good for adults and kids. (Of course, Mom and Dad never had us watch TV, but I don’t think Pop and Mimi know this and I didn’t think I needed to tell.)
Well, we can’t cut Wild Kratts but still watch the Red Sox. Mimi is shelling peas and has a mulling brow on her.
Cut the Sox? I was just getting into them, too.
In fact, Pop leans forward like he is gearing up for a big hill on his bike. Let’s get rid of it. He sits back, relaxed. Games tempt me, but not if the TV’s gone. He looks at the numbers. I’ve added it up. If we eliminate that hour a day during the week and the games on weekends, we’d gain 10 to 15 hours.
So, that’s what we did. The TV went in the front hall closet. Anytime I open the door to get my jacket, I can see it behind the vacuum cleaner.
Signing off, or should I say, sighing off–