Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, next you’re gone."

I've decided that perhaps the few of my readers who still come here are bored with my reliance on talking TV. Thus, I've decided to wander down memory lane and post a few posts about growing up. Granted, you may be sitting there thinking that the only thing more boring than posts about American Idol are posts about a young Heidi. You're probably right.

Anyway, I'll preface these posts by saying that I don't want anything to come off sounding cocky or self-indulged. The only way you can tell stories about yourself is to be honest. And self-depracating. And I'm certain my family will remember these stories differently than I do. Hey, it's my blog and I get to dictate reality. So we'll kick it off with a lighter topic.

Growing up in our house, my sister, my brother and I had to share everything. And I do mean everything. When I was about 5 or 6, the three of us had to share a room downstairs while my dad remodeled the entire upstairs. Which, we of course, loved. My sister and I got to share the big bed, and my little brother got shoved wherever he fit best. Mostly we spent our days tormenting each other until we got caught. Which was often.

At some point, my sister and I decided that we should teach my brother how to read and write. My sister was the oldest and spent her afternoons teaching me everything she was learning in school. I probably owe most of my early education to her since she had me writing and reading with her when she was in first grade and I was 4. I was like her own doll.

Anyway, our collective bedroom had this alphabet wallpaper with giant letters spread all around the room. When we weren't spending our time trying to peel it from the walls, we used our pens and pencils to write sayings on the walls. Luckily, my parents both have degrees in education and didn't care so much about the state of the walls so long as we were learning something. That, plus as long as we were writing on the walls, we weren't writing on each other. But I can remember teaching my brother how to write his name next to one of the big T letters on the wall. We also decided he should learn how to write sentences, so we wrote a few for him and had him copy them ad nauseum. The beauty of him not being able to read was that we got him to write dozens of times on the wall "T is a dork" or "T is a jerk." Which may not sound like much, but in our profanity-free household, those 2 sentences are the biggest insults you could hurl at each other without being severely punished. So the first sentences my brother ever learned to write were ones that insulted himself. That's learning from your elders.

Another thing we were forced to share was our one television set. We didn't watch a whole lot of TV when we were younger, but that didn't stop us from vehemently becoming addicted to our favorite shows. My sister was a huge fan of Captain Kangaroo. And we both loved to watch Indy's own Cowboy Bob. Kids these days with their cable cartoon channels will never get to experience the joys of a local celebrity kids show. Their loss.

We also were the biggest Dukes of Hazzard fans this side of the Wabash River. We adored that show and would hang out with our cousins reinacting the whole thing. My mom tells me that we used to encourage her to ramp over hills or jump ditches all the time. Luckily, she was wise to our ways and never obliged.

One show my sister and I did not agree on was The Brady Bunch. I absolutely loved that show and she absolutely hated it. The reason for her hatred was that it aired opposite her favorite show: Wonder Woman. Of course we were living in the days before cable tv, before VCRs, and definitely before DVRs. If you missed a show, as far as you knew, you would never see that show ever again. Which was a frightening thought. Of course, at the time, neither of us realized that we were already watching reruns of shows that had aired years earlier. To us, we imagined Bobby Brady and Wonder Woman living their lives at the exact moment that we were watching them. Back then, everything in our minds was live, reality tv. Unfortunately for me, my sister was older and bigger and always won the fights. So we were mostly a Wonder Woman household. Until she went to school and the TV was all mine.

As we grew older, we got a second television which we had to share. Don't fool yourself thinking that we could each watch a show on our own television. The TV in the living room was very much the parents' TV. Instead, the 3 of us had to share the TV upstairs for many, many years. Even today, my parents only have 2 TVs in their house. As pre-teens, we again had extremely diverse tastes in TV. Which made for some awesome fights.

My favorite show growing up was the Wonder Years. In fact, I'm hoping that they get the DVDs out soon so I can relive that show. I loved it so. Unfortunately, I only got to watch it every third week it was on. My parents, in their wiseness, made us alternate who got to watch. Don't think we didn't have a chart which detailed exactly whose night it was. We were obsessive about equality. I can remember specifically my excitement when I had the TV all to myself on Wonder Years night. My sister and brother had both gotten into trouble (for independent things I'm sure) and were both grounded from the television. I was in heaven. That night, I got all snuggled into my chair and anxiously awaited 8 p.m. and the start of my show. I kid you not when I say that at exactly 7:58 that night, the news cut in with the announcement that we were at war with Iraq. (The first one). And the news stayed on the entire night. The ENTIRE night. Granted, I'm sure most people cared more about the war than my show, but I was livid. In fact, most shows for the next couple of days were pre-empted with news coverage and the like. In other words, the entire time my siblings were grounded from the TV, the only thing I could watch was Tom Brokaw. Yeah, lucky me.

The moral of this story is that you should invest in DVRs early and often to keep your sanity and those of your children. Oh, and to stop going to war with Iraq and ruining my viewing pleasure.