Netflix, TV and My Kid – A Parent’s Tale

“It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day.” – Homer Simpson, B.A. and father of The Simpsons.

This, for many people, is their unspoken motto. A life filled with sitting in front of a flat screen/laptop watching hours of episodic television, 24 hour news TV or March Madness. That statement is much of my life’s story (minus the troubled Bart-like kid), for growing up I had 3 parents: Mom, Dad and TV. Much of my pop culture nerdish quotes and ideas come from hours as a kid, teen and at times, adult, watching and learning from TV. From Perfect Strangers to Community, Summer to Winter Olympics, from Lost to Fringe, from live to PVR/Netflix and online, TV had been a part of my framework and a part of how I see things.

Now I’m not writing this blog to tell someone to turn off their TV and get to running outside or fasting or something.  Nor am I writing to invite that for myself from a loving commentator. I think there’s someone much Bigger than I am who can do that. I’m writing because I have a daughter who like her father loves TV. And because she loves it and we let her watch it (with we hope, wisdom), it’d be good to talk through how we do it and hear from other how they walk their kids through it, if at all. So here’s how we’ve done TV with Ellie and what I’m learning in the process.

  1. Some cartoons aren’t good for her. At first we simply left a Canadian channel called Treehouse on all day while she played for background noise. And in all honesty, sometimes we did it for a break too (any “Oh man I’m not alone!” chants starting?)! And what we would hear would most often by fine but some shows, even for kids, would promote behaviors that we didn’t want her to see as approved. And this goes for me (and you) too. I talk about that on number 4.
  2. Know the limits. Winters are the worst for this. It’s not like you can go outside at minus whatever to ride a bike and Lord knows craft time, if you’re not a craft person, can be draining. So the easy decision is to simply turn on the TV and walk away. And for a time we would do that. Now we let her watch some educational stuff for a bit then turn the TV off and enforce play time. And that might be in her room with toys, might be coloring, but it is something away from the ‘tube.
  3. Talk with her about what she sees. I think good parents know when to simply say no and when to explain a no, even to a 3-year-old. The reason to explain isn’t to get them on your side or even the Lord’s side but instead to help them start to think critically over what they take in. This past summer Ellie was watching a kids show on my iPad through Netflix when a character said something I found inappropriate. My initial instinct was to take the iPad and walk away. Instead, we had a short talk about being nice and kind with our words. Did it stick? She’s three. But I do believe that the seeds are there.
  4. Set an example. Man this is hard. Am I on my phone in front of her all the time, checking emails (not tweets, if you remember)? My iPad? Even a book? Am I paying more attention even to writing this blog than to playing with her and her brother? It might not be a TV but if it’s something and it’s for a long time, it might at well be a TV. I have to take my own breaks, even when she’s sleeping. And I also have to constantly reevaluate what is appropriate and not. As I read today through Jon Acuff’s Quitter, “Discipline begets more discipline.” How I do things will affect her greatly, to make better calls, take better breaks and know when something shouldn’t be in her life.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Do you own a large TV but never use it because of different principles (side question: then why have the TV? But I digress…)? Was TV never a big deal for you? If not, what do you find is? How do you help your kids think while they do? If you don’t have kids, how to figure out what you watch and how much is too much?

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Parent Real Talk: Feeling Sucky

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand this feeling: inadequacy.

This isn’t what we’d project on Facebook with our fun family pics or on Twitter with our happy 140 character notes, but more often than not, behind the front door of our homes, we sometimes feel this way. Especially when it comes to how we raise our kids.

The other night, Ellie was taken by SOMETHING. She was kicking her brother, crumpling her face while crossing her arms, cry screaming (which is a mixture of both crying and screaming) and just not listening to us at all. The night ended up with her in bed crying at 7:00 with no snack, me standing outside her room angry that I yelled at her (there is a difference between being stern for her sake and simply yelling because I lost my cool) and Liam picking his nose.

That night I felt like…I wasn’t a good dad. I know I am but there are days where I just feel…inadequate.

Question for Parents: Ever known that feeling? What seems to trigger that for you?

It’s worse when you’re out somewhere and you kids seems to…dare I say “embarrass” you. You know those times when they are the only kid who throws themselves into a foam-at-the-mouth, roll-in-the-dew (#seewhatIdidthere, Cobourg Camp peeps?), punch-kick-claw-yell-cry state while other parents look on with that face? You know the face…that smug look that says, “If that was my kid that would NEVER happen!” And it is so embarrassing, isn’t it? I know it is for me.

The real talk truth is that every kid has moments like that, whether we want people around us to know it or not. If a kid doesn’t:

– Sleep long enough or sleep too little
– Eat enough or sleep too little
– Play enough or play too little
– Feel the sun or to the moon
– Find out there is no Santa or some fictional character
– Suffer from first world problems like “Sorry no McDonald’s, kiddo” or “No Ellie, we’re not getting Starbucks banana bread (told you…first world yuppie problems)”

…They will freak out. And the younger they are, the harder it is to explain to them why they can’t have what they want and why they shouldn’t respond they way they do. So there are only a few things I can do.

1. Pray a lot. Becca and I picked up a cool booklet by Mark Batterson called “Praying Circles Around Your Children“, based on his book “The Circle Maker.” Without giving away too much of the book, the main gist is to help give parents direction on HOW to pray for their kids on a regular basis. The other night, I made a list of things I will speak over my children. For Ellie, kindness and honesty (among other things). For Liam, humility and love.

2. Apologize. I lose my cool sometimes. If you’re a parent, you know what that’s like. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to say sorry to a three-year-old who would rather play than listen at the time but if I live a life of apology, maybe when they are older, they’ll learn that being wrong and admitting it is okay.

3. Say “I love you” a lot. Today Ellie asked me, “Daddy, do you still love me when I do bad acts?” I told her that I could never NOT love her no matter what she did. Out of that, on her own, my three-year-old said, “Daddy, I’m sorry for hitting and yelling…”. She apologized for something she did the last week. Love brought out honesty from her, not my yelling.

4. Still discipline. Sometimes my kids are going to need to be disciplined and as a good dad I have to do that. But I have to talk afterwards.

5. Not compare myself to other parents. Hey other parents: I know you have sucky days when you get mad at someone else because you had a bad day at work or something. Because I know that, that face don’t mean nuthin! People without kids, know this: Your kid will mess up. Your kid will do dumb things. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It just means you’re like every other parent, whether they say so or not:)

6. Remember that kids remember. Today I saw a tweet from Mark Driscoll that made me pause (Thanks Taigan Bombay for retweeting him). It said, “Men, we need to be the kind of men we want our sons to become and our daughters to marry…because they will.” I think that goes for all parents. Our kids will be like us no matter what, so let’s all aim to be the best we can be.

…Tonight when I got home, Becca and I had to have a long talk with Ellie about her recent behavior. It was crazy to see Ellie embarrassed and saddened by her actions. She even tried to hide, reminiscent to two people who tried to hide from their own discipline so many years ago. Yet when all was done, we had a dance party.

Thankfully when things are done right, the ending is always sweet and filled with awkward attempts at dance moves meant for teenagers and NOT 30 year olds.

Parents: Please pass this along to other parents to hear their thoughts! How have you dealt with your own feelings of inadequacy?

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

Sent From Above…What a Gift!

It’s not what you think.

This is not a heartfelt blog about someone/something that has been a blessing to my life. This is not a God-blog. You know what I mean, right? The ones about how “heaven is close & the kingdom is near“? Yeah, not that type of blog. Not that I don’t like ’em or even can’t write em. But this ain’t one.

At all.

Unless God was sending me a sign.

Here…let me explain.

Last week, I did something  I rarely do. I went downtown. Now this is not because I hate downtown or anything but moreso because I have no reason to ever go downtown, plus I ain’t got no extra coin to spend on downtown swag (except for the NEW ERA hat store…that is a piece of heaven, for real.). Anyhow, as part of my new responsibilities with my alma mater Master’s College and Seminary (I’m co-teaching a class on Pop Culture and Media. It’s cool. Cool cool cool.), we went downtown for a pop culture tour to see a TIFF movie, a taping of George Strombo (on whom I now have a slight man crush on *blushes*), a taping of Much Music’s New Music Live (60 mins, 2 videos…TWO.) and a red carpet entrance (no stars…).

At the start of the morning, I was feeling excited and nervous at the same time. See, I’m a 31-year-old going to spend a day with a bunch of 20 somethings whom I don’t know well and I never do well in those situations. I’m the “try-too-hard-to-be-funny-only-to-come-off-awkward-type of guy”. I work with a bunch of 20 somethings  every week who are like family to me so they get the awkward guy part and accept me for who I beeez, which is awesome. But in a new setting, it can be off-putting…which is even worse when you know it! So I get dressed (tried to hard to be hip…Wifey thought I looked…how do you say “less manly” without offending someone who accidentally googles ‘Chris Chase Girly Man’?), get on a school bus, memorize 24 names and get over my internal fear of embarrassing myself.

When we get downtown, I connected with some of the students who I already knew over The Office and Simpsons references (it IS a pop culture class…) while waiting in line for Great Expectations. Around high buildings.

Filled with birds.

And as we walk into the theatre, my body feels several droplets of what I thought was water on my chest and arms.

And my face.

Then I heard gasps and some laughs. And I smelt what I can only describe as Liam after eating prunes.

Yup…from above I was crapped on. By a bird.

I imagine it had been following us from Ajax, waiting to hurt one of us with its deadly dangers of poop. And it struck me with such force that I smelled bad. And was terribly embarrassed.

Yet, the poop was a great ice breaker for me…I didn’t have to worry about being cool, because I was crapped on. I didn’t have to worry about what I was wearing, because I was crapped on. I could be me. With no worries. AND it missed the beard by this much!

What a gift. What a crappy “crappy” gift!

#seewhatIdidthere?

If you have a similar story, I’d love to have some dialogue with you on it. Leave a comment OR email me at cchase101@gmail.com. We’ve all got a story, so let’s share them. Also, feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking the “subscribe me” button. Thanks – Chase

#beardwatch – The Quest for the Awesome Beard

Hello reader!

Yesterday I made a big decision. One that will rock my home and bring unnecessary tension between wifey and I. One that will bring weird comments from friends who say more than they need too. One that will bring fear into the minds of people I don’t know. And one that will cause barbers all over the GTA to wonder aloud, “Dude, what are you doin‘?”

Here was my decision via twitter:

Yup. I want to grow my beard out something fierce. Why? No real reason other that why not. Now I’ve done this once before. After September/early October of last year, I didn’t cut my hair or beard until Liam was born. But I didn’t keep it kept, didn’t fresh my hair or anything. I looked, how do I say…rough?!

Anyhow, this time around, I have a template. A hero if you will: NBA star and recent USA Basketball Olympic Gold Medalist James Harden. Here’s a pic of him, along with Kevin Durant and Melo Anthony. James is in the middle.

Pretty awesome, eh? Now, he’s been growing this for a couple of years now (since 2009, to be accurate…4 years, boi!) so I’m not expecting to be at that level in 3 months. However, I am hoping that by then, Wifey will have given up on getting me to shave it and simply added this to the long list of her long sufferings as my wife. By then, i’ll be smooth growing; apart from the itchiness, the curly sideburn hair that won’t straighten without a black man’s brush, the grey hairs that are becoming more pronounced and the possible never getting hugs from anyone in my home (though I am sure Liam will have fun pulling it for sport).

I also plan to, for as long as I can, keep my faux hawk. I went to the barbershop recently and my barber and I both commented on how my hair isn’t growing fast,  a sign of old age, I guess. Since then, I’m doing what I did when I wanted braids: always picking my hair out. And it has worked so far. I am quite excited.

So along with trying to read more, get to the gym, be a better man in my home and save up to buy a life size robot, I will be on #beardwatch. Each week (or so) I will be posting a beard pic (some in different locations, some with the kids, some very repetitive…okay most will be…), to keep my progress on file. This will be fun.

I also hope to talk with James Harden via twitter or email in the next months or so to hear from him on how he did it for so long. That would ALMOST make me switch teams from LA to OK…nah, not happening!

Let the early mid-life crisis begin!!!

Chase
PS. Basketball talk pt 1: I am really nervous that the Dwight Howard Laker thing won’t work. Call me a pessimist but the only thing more spectacular than a ring in LA is combustion in LA: both get headlines, one gets TV movie’d.

PPS. Basketball talk pt 2: I hate to admit this…LeBron is great. I want to vomit now…all over my computer and children. Yuck.

The Decision (A play of many parts)

Interviewer: So Chris, how are you doing tonight?

Chris Chase: Man, I’m good. Nervous but good, you know what I’m saying?

Interviewer: I do, dawg. I really do.

CC: No you don’t but that’s okay (chuckles)

Interviewer: So. Here we are, time for your decision. How did you come to this…decision?

CC: Well, I’ve been thinking on it for some time now. I spoke with my family a lot, got the nod from my lady (points to his wife Rebecca in the crowd and gives her a smile. Rebecca blushes and smiles back), and then I just decided.

Interviewer: So how many people know about your decision?

CC: (Looks at his laptop)…um, about 56 people know right now. Maybe more but 56 for sure. I can’t really worry about who knows and who doesn’t but I guess this public declaration/waste of time will fill the rest in and from there, the decision will be on them. You see what I did there? I turn the topic of the decision-based my decision on everyone else (looks to heaven quite smug, then realizing that he is in front of a crowd changes his face to humble. No one buys it.). What I mean is that I haven’t gone out of my way to make this news public at first. Those who know know and others will know as they know, which I think is cool.

Interviewer: That was a bunch of nonsense. So what was your decision, since you already MADE it beforehand.

CC: I’ve decided or rather, I decided to go back on twitter.

Guy in the Crowd: You mean I skipped work AND plates for that? You’re on twitter? You SUCK, Chase. You could have just tweeted that.

CC: Ummm, technically I did…why did you skip work, man? That’s weird.

Interviewer: Okay…so why did you initially leave twitter?

CC: Well, I had been thinking about it for a while. I really had fun with it when I first found it but a couple of things changed. One, I was spending too much time tweeting. From little things to big things, my phone or iPad was always waiting to say something. Two, which is an extension of one, I was on my phone all the time. Someone once asked my daughter what kind of instrument my wife plays and she responded by saying piano. When the same question was asked about me, her reply? The phone.

Eliana Chase: (from backstage) It’s true, y’all!

CC: When a two-year old says that, you gotta make changes. Three, my esteem was low. I saw a lot of my friends making godly tweets and instead of being inspired or driven by them, I was embarrassed that I either had nothing to say/add OR was convicted that I wasn’t there in my own life. So then I tried to act it which made me feel worse. There’s nothing worse that adding to low esteem by pretending. Nothing.

And fourth, I needed to know how to better use it. I lost that in trying to be like everyone else (book quotes, Bible quotes, leadership lines, etc.). Plus, everyone wants to be retweeted and when you’re not, it’s like a kick to the face, especially when you think it should be!

Interviewer: So, then you left, correct?

CC: No, first I went on a media fast with my young adults from (gets really loud) RESONAAAATE (upon saying that, a group of young adults stand up and cheer. All are wearing yellow skinny jeans.) for our retreat to focus our mind on Jesus. And when we got back, I decided that I didn’t want to be on it anymore. And so I think my last tweet was on Jan 17th.

Interviewer: And how did that feel?

CC: Pretty cool. Liberating, actually. I actually found that because I didn’t see people’s updates, oh yeah I was off Facebook too, I could actually ask people how they were doing and not lie about it. Also, I was on the computer and phone less because there were no messages to respond too. Plus, I was able to recalibrate my brain and heart to remind myself that my esteem should come from God and not from retweets. I know I should know this but humanity is a funny thing.

Interviewer: But now you’re baaaack. How is this time different? What made you make that change?

CC: I made the change because I’m a nerd for social interaction, especially with friends that I rarely get to see. So first I put my old twitter handle to bed because He had a good run. Then I made some rules for myself:

  1. No twitter on my phone. I can only tweet when I am in front of my computer on wi-fi. So it has to be well thought out before going online.
  2. Protecting my tweets. With tweets protected, I can’t have anything retweeted. Less things to worry about for my esteem:).
  3. No overtweeting. Having a good number is good. It’s okay to not have a tweet one day or two. And because I don’t have it on my phone, I really have to remember stuff throughout the day and get the words right to have it nailed. Plus I don’t want to have that overtweeting rep.
  4. Balanced tweets. It’s okay to mix the sacred and the secular. It’s okay to think and to laugh.
  5. Know your audience. I don’t have anyone on my tweet-list who doesn’t believe what I believe so I don’t plan to preach at them. My audience is good friends, so I can be more myself than before on my old twit handle.
  6. Let it happen naturally. No seeking people out and no trying to get sought. If someone finds and follows, awesome. And if they don’t, that’s cool beans too.
  7. Have fun.

And if I can’t keep those rules, then I’ll again recalibrate and then slowly return. Again.

Interviewer: Well, I am happy that you wasted our telecast with your story (voice dripping with sarcasm)

CC: That was rude. Let me te-

Interviewer: (Cutting CC off) And that’s all the time we have for tonight. Sorry Matt Damon, we’re out of time. I want to thank Chris Chase for this interview and his decision. In the words of Jeff Hackett, all the best. You can find Chris’ new twitter handle by typing in –

(Screen cuts to black.)

FIN