June 12, 2014
There are many and varied reasons to dislike children’s television. Most of them involve butt-ugly, crudely drawn characters with screechy voices that pierce the eardrums like a steel kabob skewer. Worse, though, is the networks’ utter failure to acknowledge that the children watching are scattered across a massive country, with widely varying climates.
Thanks to Nickelodeon, my child was adamant that since summer vacation from school started last Friday afternoon, we needed to fill his swimming pool on Saturday. After all, the kids in the advertisements are gleefully splashing into their pools. In Atlanta. And San Diego. And Albuquerque (and yes, I did spell that right on the first try with no assistance from spell-check, so pbbbtt!“)
The truly scary part is that if we break down and fill the stupid pool despite overnight temperatures dropping to the forties, and the water temperature right along with it, he will swim in it. Until his fingernails turn blue and his teeth chatter so bad as we strip him out of his wetsuit (yes, insulated, we’re not complete idiots) he can barely ask if maybe we could warm up his Angry Birds blanket into the clothes dryer for a few minutes to offset his hypothermia more quickly.
This scenario is played out for every single season, in one version or another. “But Mommy, it’s spring, the TV said so. Why can’t we plant flowers?” “But it’s supposed to be fall and there are supposed to be piles of fallen leaves jump in, not these stupid snowdrifts.” Even winter manages to fail us, when we have a three week Chinook in January and there’s not a hill in sight with enough snow left for a sledding just like on TV.
I assume parents in southern states have the same problem. “Yes, honey, I know that guy on television is sure this is the perfect weekend for a skating party, but ponds don’t freeze at seventy-three degrees.”
Efforts to explain how climate varies with latitude and altitude are met with loud, inconsolable sighs and an expression that suggests if a boy had competent parents, they could fix such things. Then he meanders off to his bedroom for some private time with his video games, where he can force the universe to bend to his will.
And about that gardening thing. How does one make a nine year old understand that, short of building a greenhouse, he will never, ever grow his very own watermelons in Glacier County, and even then there’s a fifty-fifty chance the wind would level it before his first harvest. Not that he would eat them anyway, but it’s the thought.
It’s possible he might come by that part naturally. First thing I planted when I moved to Oregon was broccoli and hot peppers. I had no desire to gag either down as part of a meal, I was just fascinated that this stuff would actually spring out of the ground and grow to maturity without being turned black by frost. And there was that year in South Dakota when I grew enough pumpkins to supply Thanksgiving Dinner for half the state.
So yeah, we will probably cave and let him put up the pool in mid-June, which is plain crazy up here in the tundra. What the heck, it’ll make a man of him. Besides, when the water’s that cold, it doesn’t get all gunked up with algae.
Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real