Screen Time!

Koan watching TV

I’ve recently started a new job, and that’s taken up a lot of my attention for the past few weeks. So, I haven’t have time to post here.  Koan is having a great summer in the meantime. He goes to the Arc’s summer day program hosted at Kennedy HS.  This program runs from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM five days a week all summer long. They do all types of really fun things, swimming (huge favorite), trips to the inclusive playground, all sorts of crafts, and any manner of games.  So, again, Koan is having a wonderfully entertaining and happy summer.

This has also been the summer when he’s (finally) fallen in love with television — more specifically Netflix.  Jeri and I have slightly mixed feelings on this topic. Honestly, it’s about 90%/10% favorable vs. guilty. Koan’s almost eleven years old, and in addition to all of his other challenges, we’ve not been able (up until now) been able to use the screen as childcare.  I realize that sounds a little bad, but it’s also a practical reality as all parent know. There are times when it’s really almost necessary to have this tool available. And, until this summer, that’s not been an option for us. Honestly, this is a pretty significant celebration.

Last weekend, the weekend after the 4th of July, Jeri, Tiber, Koan, and I decided to pack up and travel to visit our friends Ken and Christine in Sioux Falls, SD.  This trips takes about a five and a half hours. .We elected to leave reasonably early in the morning (around 7:30) so we could enjoy most of the rest of the day with our friends.    We’ve discovered over the last couple of years that Koan is the best road trip passenger in our family. He loves to ride in the car — even for five hours. It’s one of his favorite activities.  His added bonus is that because he wears briefs under his pants/shorts, he almost never needs to stop for a bathroom break. We still change him of course, but it’s on our schedule and not on-demand, most of the time.  

He’s so funny.  On this particular trip, we had all decided to stop at Clear Lake to get something drink and for a bathroom break.  This was about two hours into the trip. I was already weary of driving. Jeri and I went into the Kum and Go to get our stuff and make our stops.  Tiber and Koan stayed in the van. When I returned to the vehicle, I could see Koan looking right at me — laughing and signing for “more”. He was the only one in the van that was amped up for another three hours of windshield time.

We arrived at Ken’s and Christine’s house around 2:00 PM.  They are such gracious hosts! There were all types of meats on the smoker and all types of adult drinks chilled and ready for us.  I had not eaten since 7:00 AM and didn’t want to spoil my appetite for the good stuff in the smoker. And, I really couldn’t refuse the wonderful craft beer and whiskey Ken was offering.  Jeri had fallen under the spell of Christine’s homemade margaritas at the same time. Things got blurry for both of us really quickly. Before things got too far out of hand, we got Netflix going on the Derr’s entertainment system.

Koan’s current favorite is a nursery rhyme show from Great Britain called, “Little Baby Bum”.  There are three episodes that run for about an hour each — one animated song after the other. I wish the show were a bit more age appropriate.  But, at this point, we are just so happy that something on the screen captures and sustains his attention. The show has a couple of motif songs. One of them is, of course, “Wheels on the Bus.”  He’s hooked!

On this particular night, we put Koan on the recliner in the Derr’s family room that was facing the screen and got the show going.  He was enthralled. As the afternoon wore away, We realized that had not needed to provide Koan with any attention for several hours.  He watched all three episodes without complaint. This was new and, frankly, very welcome. With our older two kids, this sort of thing happened around 18-24 months.  It just took Koan a little longer — about ten years… This new development feels like all of us who care for him now have some room to catch our breathe.

Over the past couple of weeks, his interest has branched into a couple of other similar shows also on Netflix.  With my new job, I’ve been working a little later. So, I miss his after camp routine. But, I understand that Koan now expects to watch his shows between the time when camp is over until supper.  I’ve heard he will let Jeri know if he doesn’t see the Netflix logo and opening chime sound within a few minutes of getting home. In fact, Jeri is napping as I write this post. I’m in my office and Koan is in front of the TV enjoying his shows.  This is a game-changer! I have a feeling that just about all other things this will be a mixed blessing. It’s just a matter of time now until he demands the remote in order to watch his shows. I look forward to that day.

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