Sunday March 30, 2003 11:55 PM
The positive power of TV

We had a picnic in the living room tonight and watched the copy of Toy Story 2 Isaiah got for his birthday last week.

There wasn't much on TV tonight. Ruth had wanted to see something good on HG, but there wasn't anything she was interested in there or on Food Network. She was kind of irritated about that, but it didn't bother me too much. I was working on a model so I was occupied and Isaiah didn't care- he was bouncing off the walls like he always does.

I looked up from my X-acto knifing when Ruth was laying a big yellow towel out on the family room floor in front of the TV.

"Who wants to have a picnic tonight?"

"I do!" shouted Isaiah.

"I do too," I said "and I know what we can watch while we're having it."

I pointed to the case for the videocassette lying by the telephone. Ruth looked where I was pointing and soundlessly mouthed "what?".

"By the phone" I whispered back.

"By the phone?" she replied silently.

We only had to play that game three or four times before she figured out what I was pointing at. Her next pantomime query was regarding the location of the tape which was not in the case. Isaiah had insisted on taking the as-yet unviewed tape up to his room the other day so that he could look at it while he was taking a "nap". I pointed up at the ceiling, which is the floor of Isaiah's room, and she got the message and retrieved the tape.

She and I then made some sandwiches and we joined Isaiah on the "picnic blanket" in the floor in front of the TV. Our TV is on a lot of the time but it's usually background noise- something semi-interesting on one of the two channels mentioned above that can be ignored or absorbed without much thought either way. Some people have a radio on all the time for music or ballgames, we have cooking and architecture playing.

Tonight, though, we had a very good time watching something together which appealed to and entertained all of us. I don't know exactly why it is but even your very favorite movie is more fun to watch when you are watching it with someone else who is enjoying it too and we all had fun watching Toy Story 2. It's a very good movie, as is Toy Story. Isaiah was the only one of the three of us who had seen the whole movie before. I'd seen some of it on a 60" TV at a high-dollar electronics store once while Ruth was shopping in the discount store next door, but I came in on it near the end. I normally hate coming in on the end of a movie, but I got sucked in on the compelling climax of this one. Luckily knowing how it all turned out didn't make it any less fun to start from the beginning.

Isaiah's role during this movie was the exact opposite of the one he normally plays when he and I watch anything together. Usually it's "Who is that? Why is he doing that? What's he doing? Where are they going? Who is that, again? Is that a spaceship? What's gonna happen now?". I wish I had a dime for every "Dude, just watch the show, OK?" I've uttered in the last four years. Then we could be watching the movie on the 60" TV I watched in that store.

Tonight, though, he was telling us what was going to happen: "Now Mr. Potato Head's eyes are going to fall out- Ha ha! or Now Buzz is going fight the other Buzz or They always climb through the air vents". It was a refreshing switch, but I still wish he would learn to just watch the movie. Either way it's a small price to pay for watching a good movie with my two favorite people.

Our supper was just cold cut sandwiches and chips, but it seemed extra good to me. Maybe the food didn't taste out of the ordinary, but the meal and the time was far better than ordinary. The three of us are almost always together, but tonight we had a special bonding time that meant a great deal to me.

I don't know if Isaiah will remember this particular indoor picnic for years to come, but I know I will.