Friday, June 12, 2009

DTV: Youngest Son loses a friend

Long time readers may remember that Youngest Son played travel baseball in 2007 with a team I called the Raptors. Among other stories, I wrote about the boy's tryout for the team, about the team parents riding the Amish Umpire, and about the coaches' frustration during the course of what turned out to be a long season. ("One parent," I wrote in that last linked essay, "said we should change our name to the Livestock because we know so well what it means to get slaughtered.")

Looking back, I guess I was pretty hard on the other parents. But, as I tried to get across at the time, these weren't bad people, they were just not sports parents. They had to learn how to step back and let the kids develop on their own. I had to learn too. It's just that, by the time we got to the Raptors, I'd been through all this before; for the most part, these parents had not. Their kids were the oldest in their families.

And the parents tried to be properly supportive. One very generous gesture was made, during the course of that season, by three or four of the families that lived very close to each other. They decided to combine resources and host a garage sale -- and donate the proceeds to the team. All the team kids were asked to come 'work' the sale, wearing their uniform jerseys.

The sale was a big success. Unhappily, for me, the sale made exactly $2 more than I thought it should have made.

That $2 was the amount spent by Youngest Son to buy a derelict 10" black and white TV.

This TV was promptly installed in the boy's room, where it has remained... until today.

I never let any of the other kids have a TV set in their rooms. Of course, none of the others had ever bought a set before. I protested, I grumbled, I fulminated even, but, in the end, I backed off. I agreed that it was his and, therefore, he could do with it as he wanted -- as long as he got his homework done, etc., etc. I, at least, have upheld my side of the bargain.

That TV set has been Youngest Son's all-too-constant companion. It never did get all of the broadcast channels, but it got enough that he was able to watch innumerable reruns of "Law and Order" and "House" and awful sitcoms that killed their start-up networks.

On a number of occasions I have had to venture into Youngest Son's room in the middle of the night to turn off the TV; he'd fallen asleep watching it, just as I had, watching TV in the family room.

It has occurred to me, lately, that these incidents have increased in frequency. A couple of nights ago, when I got up at 3:30 in response to Nature's call, I saw once more the ghostly light coming from the gap in Youngest Son's mostly closed door.

And I finally realized what was going on.

Today is the day that American broadcast TV stations change signals. Analog TV sets will no longer bring in anything other than white noise. I had already had the discussion with Youngest Son about the fate of his $2 TV. I am not going to spend $50 or $60 to buy a converter for that thing, I told him. He reluctantly accepted the logic of this position (a major victory for me when a teenager sees the logic in anything).

As I gingerly stepped over the piled clothes and shoes and who-knows-what-else on that kid's floor, I realized: Youngest Son is saying good-bye to a friend.


Dave said...

Nice story. On the reality side, he can get a coupon worth $40 towards a converter box; but, don't tell him.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That is starting to happen over here. britain is doing a gradual switchover to digital.

Shelby said...

I'm with Dave .. don't tell him about the coupon.

sari said...

Hmmm...I think I have a tv in the garage that can go now, I've had it since I was 16. (OH MY GOSH).