Boys: Demented & Dangerous

No TV For You!

In my Holiday Gift Guide for Boy Toys I mentioned that we don’t encourage TV, computer or video games in our house. In fact, I strongly discourage them. I don’t judge those of you who allow them; it’s just that I was a huge nerd growing up, and when I wasn’t inside reading I was outside catching crawdads in the creek, playing Little House on the Prairie (as the oldest, I always got to be Mary), building tiny mud houses and churches for ants, playing kick-the-can, or (sigh) reading. If I didn’t watch television, by God, my boys aren’t going to!

Of course, we hoped that while the boys weren’t watching Sponge-Bob they’d be avidly reading, expanding their vocabularies at a breath-taking rate, spending more time on their instruments, thus becoming virtuoso performers, and honing their writing and drawing skills. Or perhaps they’d go in another direction and organize games of four-square and football and spend hours on their bikes. They would increase their endurance, muscle strength and sense of sportsmanship. Plus, we’d have time to identify each boy’s strongest sport in order to commence training for the 2012 London Olympics.

We’ve been extremely pleased with the activities the boys have come up with to amuse themselves, including:

1. Fun With Toilet Paper


The boys are long out of diapers and skilled at using toilet tissue for its intended application. Finn then began a project to devise other ways to incorporate the product into daily life. By far the most popular was “Roll the Interior of Daddy’s Car” which required only toilet paper, duct tape, and stealth. Upon discovery of the vandalism, Bill exhibited the perfect amount of histrionics and laughter, making this a very fulfilling post-shower enterprise.

2 . Athletic Time: Improving Balance

We don’t have much opportunity to snowski, so the guys have to resort to other means to practice their skills on the slopes. A plastic laundry basket slithering down carpeted steps provides the perfect low-friction platform for attempting basic downhill maneuvers. No snowsuit necessary.

3. Science In The Kitchen


Preparing a bagel with Munster cheese is so very ordinary. Mixing science with snack time makes food lots more entertaining.

Experiment: What happens when you ice the melted cheese on a bagel?

Hypothesis: The Munster will unmelt and return to its flattened, square form.

Procedure: Porter prepared a bagel with melted cheese. He then applied ice to the cheese and waited for it to resume its previous shape so it could be reinserted into its original package. He withstood substantial skepticism from his brothers throughout the duration of the scientific process.

“Porter, that is not going to unmelt. You’re just going to end up with a wet bagel,” Finn commented derisively.

“It might unmelt, but you’ll have to hold the ice there a long time and you’ll get frostbite and have to have your fingers cut off, so I don’t think it’s worth it,” Drew opined.

“It’s my bagel,” Porter said. “When the ice melts, the cheese will unmelt.” He continued icing the bagel confidently.

After fifty-five minutes, the experiment was deemed concluded.

Result: Cold fingers, melted cheese, soggy bagel.

I have plenty more examples of the useful activities the boys have pursued while being banished from the tube, which I am happy to share.


  • Antique Mommy

    All activities not involving blood or my participation I find to be excellent alternatives to television. You should write the book. Love the giraffe carpet, but something tells me you are all about whimsey 🙂

  • Gary

    Tell Porter he needs dry ice to unmelt the cheese. And that he needs to wear some insulated gloves to do that experiment. And whatever you do, don’t tell my boys about the laundry basket/steps ski substitute. They’re crazy enough to try it even though our steps aren’t carpeted. And I guarantee they wouldn’t use the hand rail either.

  • Leeny

    I’ll bet you DO have plenty more where those came from! I have one daughter and I don’t envy you with three boys but they sure liven things up, don’t they?

  • amanda

    i adore these stories. funny and so sensicle…really. i totally get the whole laundry basket thing. and the whole bagel thing. one time my sister had to decompose fruit as an experiment but forgot about the jar that contained a banana peel that she put in the playroom closet until we had fruit flies flitting about. my dad wrote the teacher a note after that.

  • Jen

    Just wondering,(thinking of instituting the no/low TV rule around here)how do handle the no/low TV rule? Do they complain that their friends are watching shows that they don’t get to watch? Or are they ok with it? Is it just a given, or do they fight you on it?

  • Katrina

    Re: bagel experiment–GREAT example of the scientific method. And useful information for those of us without the time or inclination to ice our own bagel.

    The laundry basket surfing reminds me of a favorite childhood activity–crowding all three of us kids into the foot of my Dad’s army surplus sleeping bag and “riding” it down our carpeted stairs. The carpet started to wear off after a while, but it’s okay–it was lime green and ugly. Nobody cried.

  • clearlykels

    A friend of mine was just out of college and living in a house with a few other guys. His best friend was bringing home his girlfriend for the first time, and being a house full of guys they wanted to make an impression on this poor unsuspecting gal. So, another roommate yelled to let the rest of the guys know that the friend and the new gal were on their way up the driveway. My friend who really likes to make a good first impression looked around the hallway to see what he could do. He noticed a twin mattress picked it up, and rode it down the stairs as they opened the door. Got up, picked up the mattress, leaned it against the fall, got the paper off the front hall table and introduced himself as if that was the normal way to go down the stairs. Sooo– just wait, it just gets better.

  • Susan

    “No snowsuit necessary.”

    Or pants, either, apparently. My kids would love that; they prefer Pants Optional activities. In fact, one of my TV rules is PUT SOME PANTS ON FIRST. Often, that stops them from begging to watch the tube.

  • Kristen

    They are hilarious! I love their creativity. I try to discourage TV and video games here as well, but every time I turn around, John has bought them a new Disney or superhero movie. GAH! So far it hasn’t stopped them from finding plenty of other ways to entertain themselves, though. Quinn’s typically involves the refrigerator or crayons and furniture.