Reading, TV, and parenting

Dave Tutelman  --  August 26, 2021

I tripped over this Baby Blues strip on August 26, 2021. Immediately, it brought to mind what happened when my kids got their first reading lessons in school.  (Cue the flashback music.)

When Jeff was about to start first grade (Fall 1977), the TV set went on the blink. I didn't yet know what the problem was, but it was probably within my capabilities to fix. Hey, I had two degrees in electrical engineering and had taken an evening course in TV repair. No problem!

Then I remembered my own first grade experience in 1947. The theme of that semester was reading: start to learn to read in earnest. My family did not get a TV set until 1954, so I never had that distraction. Learning words and reading turned out to be challenging, exciting, and fun. And, unlike TV, it was active; you didn't just sit there and let it wash over you. It was a lot of fun, and I got hooked on reading pretty quickly.

Remembering that, i decided to defer fixing the TV for a few months, until Jeff was enjoying reading. Let him get over the first and perhaps most important hump in a kid's education. So I missed the NFL football season that year, the TV was not repaired until November, and Jeff became an avid reader.

When I finally got around repairing the TV, the problem was very simple. A fusible resistor in the power supply had blown. Think of it as a blown fuse, because the damaged component was exactly where a fuse would have been. I got a replacement and wired it back in, and the TV worked just fine again.

But wait!I realized that Dan would be in first grade in four years. This worked so well, we might want to plan to repeat the experience for him. So instead of soldering the fusible resistor back into place, I soldered a screw terminal into the TV and attached the resistor that way. I could detach it with a screwdriver anytime I wanted to. And that is exactly what happened. In late August of 1981, our TV set mysteriously stopped working. We missed three months of TV while Dan was learning to read. Then I got around to screwing the loose lead on the resistor back into place.

Guess Darryl MacPherson and I have different priorities.

(It is possible that reading this is the first time Jeff and Dan will know what actually happened way back then.)

Last changed - 8/26/21