Yesterday evening, I went to pick up our take-out. (We do not use delivery services, because they’re bad for restaurants.) I realized as I did that it was the first time I’d left the house in something like a week to go farther than the mailbox—we live on a cul-de-sac now, and our mailbox is at the entrance. I hadn’t been in my car in a week. And, no, I haven’t spent that whole time sitting around watching Perry Mason, but yeah, I’ve spent a lot of it sitting around watching Perry Mason. Among other things, because I have been watching more than just that, but still. I think the amount of watching what I want to watch has gone up because we got the house, even though it should’ve gone down because the schools are closed.
Generally, in the mornings now, I don’t turn on the TV until I get my son Simon through his schoolwork. Because that’s not going to happen if he has his focus interrupted by his sister’s choosing to watch Pocoyo or what have you. (Actually, this article is late because I was in the middle of writing it when I realized that he had a virtual author meeting for his class!) But once his schoolwork is done, the TV goes on and often stays on for the rest of the day, because ours is not a household obsessed with limiting screentime. Though the kids don’t get to choose all the time, and we’re becoming much closer to my childhood “you can watch if you want to watch what Mom does.”
We even have two TVs now, the big one in the bedroom and a small one in our living room. Because our house is big enough so that we aren’t listening to one another’s shows all the time, in part, and because it’s easier for me to do things in the living room if there’s sound. So I’ve started watching stuff it’s okay for the kids to watch in the living room while I sew or sort patterns or whatever. (Unpack, of course.) Which can often mean two different child-friendly things playing at once, if the kids decide they’d rather watch Paw Patrol than Flight of the Navigator, the heathens.
But what I’ve noticed is that, with very few exceptions, I’m still doing mostly comfort-watching. I think the most emotionally complicated thing I’ve watched since lockdown began a lifetime ago is Key Largo. Maybe The Big Sleep, if you think that’s more challenging. Nothing that I’m sure will make me cry; I’ve even been sparing of the Pixar, because I don’t think I can take losing Bing Bong right now. The kids were watching Big Hero 6 the other day, and I’m glad I wasn’t there for the most emotional parts of that.
I want to feel safe. The world outside doesn’t feel safe. I don’t know when it will again—so nice that I can’t have Renaissance faire this summer but we can have police brutality, huh? So, yes, I’d rather watch Time Team and Columbo and Remington Steele and things, and the Disney movies of my childhood, and things that remind me of happier, healthier times. I’m sure I’m not the only one doing that. Why wouldn’t you?