As I was carrying the bag of recycling to the big blue bin outside first grade where it's collected, I passed by Sophia's mom, Tonia B. and greeted her as she passed by me. She was headed home her two daughters.
I dumped my bag out into the recycling and headed back to the classroom. Looking up, I saw Tonia coming back looking as if she had something to say to me.
"Mr. Gurney, I've been wanting to talk to you for some time," she began.
"About how you inspired me about six months ago to get rid of our TV. We've got no cable, no satellite. All we can watch is DVDs."
"Sounds like me: I use a computer to watch the DVDs," I said. "I've got the minimum Netflix account: two a month."
"Well, the surprising thing, Mr. Gurney, the most surprising thing is this: my girls don't miss TV at all. They don't ask to get it back. They play outside. They have fantasy play again. They read. They draw. Our house is so much more peaceful and happy. I don't even miss the news. I can get the internet news on my iPhone." Tonia went on for some time like this. She was a fountain of happy stories about their lives free of TV. When I had a chance to respond, I said,
"It's funny, Tonia, that you're telling me this. Just yesterday a mother of a first grader told me the same thing. Practically word for word. When they moved, they didn't automatically hook up a cable or satellite dish. They discovered a much happier family life when free of TV. I am so happy for you. Your kids will grow up from the inside out, happy, whole people. Our national nightmares won't be brought into your house. Katrina. 9/11. Columbine."
"I know, I remember my kids begging me to shut off the news reports about Katrina." she said. "Thank you for inspiring us."
"You're welcome. Now do something for me. Pass the free of TV favor on. Find one friend and inspire them to get free of TV. And when they thank you for inspiring them to become free of TV, ask them to pass the free of TV favor along to one of their friends. We'll start a movement."
"I will, Mr. Gurney, I will do that," she smiled.