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I was talking with my oldest daughter this morning about the newest facebook profile picture thing going on.

Everyone is using a pic of a cartoon character from their childhood as their profile pic.

And herein lies my problem.

Growing up, our family alternated between periods of time when we had a TV and when we didn’t.

Our TV would break and my parents would not be in any rush to replace it.

When we did have a TV, no one in the family spent very much time watching it.

As children, not rule setting adults, we weren’t allowed to watch much TV.

I remember at one point, we were allowed to choose one 30 minute show … a week.

Sometimes we chose our favorite show and watched it by ourselves.

Sometimes we would discuss it with each other and decide on one single show so that we could all watch together.

My sister and I oftentimes leaned towards a show with a good opening song so we could sit and sing along.

And when we were allowed to watch TV, what we were allowed to watch was limited.

As children, we didn’t always love this arrangement.

And we did our fair share of complaining.

Sometimes, the wise words of my father – When I was your age, I spent hours outside playing with a rock and a stick. – didn’t offer much consolation.

And, in turn, when my sister and I sat on the green shag carpet of our living room floor looking at the globe and discovered that China really is on the other side of the world from us  …  and then decided to try to dig to China  … using one of my mother’s soup spoons  …  right in the center of the lawn in the backyard  …  and then gave up about 4 1/2 inches into it  …  and went on to something else  …  forgetting all about our attempt  …  until we heard my father park in the driveway after a full day of work, come in the back gate, and proceed to yell at our dog (who was known for digging up the grass)  …  and we ran out to tell our father what we had done (we liked our dog … and my parents didn’t spank us)  …  the benefits of minimal TV may have not offered much consolation to my father.

There were times when popular culture influenced by TV shows were lost on us.

I remember at times not knowing phrases that others did because it came from a TV show.

It didn’t bother me terribly that I didn’t know how Mork would greet people.

You hear it, you don’t know, you ask, you do know.  It’s not difficult to pick up anything from TV that’s popular.  Popular culture isn’t rocket science.

And when it took me a couple of days, and a little help, to jog my memory so I could participate in a new facebook phase, I still don’t wish I had spent more time watching TV.

As an adult, I have almost always had a TV.

I have gone through phases where I watched too much, where I wasted my time and my brain or when I was more selective about what I watched.

As a parent, I have always limited how much TV my children watch and which shows they watch.

What is this thing? ... I don't know.

I saw the benefits I received as a child, and it has been easy to see these benefits in my children.

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