We have a rule in my family that our 11month-old son is not allowed to watch any television until he is two years old.
Apparently, if babies watch too much television they run the risk of catching ADD, or, possibly even worse, catching an episode of Nancy Grace.
When I say we have a rule in my family, I mean my wife has a rule. She's the only one who gets to make rules. I've tried, but for some reason topless breakfast Tuesdays never caught on. I guess it's because while my rules are based on nebulous concepts like laziness and everything tastes better wrapped in bacon, my wife's rules are rooted in things like facts and the criminal code.
The offshoot of "our" TV rule is that, if I want to be in the same room as my son, the TV cannot be in that room. Well, it can be in the room but it can't be turned on and doing what it does best - showing me sports events six hours a day while I yell things at it like, "That was a foul!" and, "Really, beer commercial lady? You want me to 'Man up' by drinking Milller Lite!?"
I'm not legally bound to say this, but I do, in fact, want to be in the same room as my baby, even after he uses my neck as a chew toy. So, how to reconcile baby-time with a sporting world that day after day, hour after hour threatens to produce moments of excitement, brilliance and, sometimes, ladies showing their bare boobs during a live hockey broadcast?
The answer, for people my dad's age, is the VCR. Of course, people my dad's age also wear clip-on sunglasses. For the techno-savvy, or at least the techno-tentative, it's three other magical letters: DVR.
Or is it PVR? Whatever.
Of course, DVRs have been around for a while, but until a year ago I happily lived without one, stopping my life to watch five hours of Sunday afternoon golf whenever I damn well pleased. Sometimes I'd even stay awake for parts of it. Those days are gone now.
When my wife got pregnant everyone I've ever known, and many people that I've never met, decided I needed some advice on how to be a parent. Most of it was as useful as a donkey on a spaceship.
But one friend of mine, himself a new dad, urged me to get a DVR. That was great advice, and I'm happy to pass it on to any soon-to-be-dad. Or mom, if I'm certain she won't fill it up with reruns of Sex and the City or some reality show like Sex With a Kardashian.
Seriously though, DVRs are great. Pause, rewind and re-watch live TV? Record, cue up and view any program you want any time you want with a few clicks of the remote? Yes please.
Now that I have DVR I don't watch anything live while my kid is still awake. It all gets saved, waiting inside my TV for me to let it out. The only problem with DVR is that it warps your sense of time. When I watch live sports on TV now I'm constantly trying to skip through the commercials, furious that I can't watch plays now that won't actually occur for another five minutes. Hopefully the next generation of DVRs come with a flux capacitor.
Sometimes when I watch recorded events, I get so excited about the time I'm saving fast-forwarding through the commercials that I'll just keep on fastforwarding through the whole game. Then I might even have time in my night to do other important things like interact with my wife or play video games on my phone.
When I'm watching TV now, I often do three other things at the same time, confident that if I miss something important I can just run it back. I've grown so accustomed to bending time with my DVR that I often catch myself trying to pause and rewind real life. In the car I'll reach for the radio dial trying to skip back to the beginning of a song that's almost over. When my wife explains what I'm supposed to do when our house alarm goes off in the middle of the night my eyes glaze over, secure in the knowledge that I can come back to the instructions a minute or two later. Sooner or later I'm going to walk into the middle of traffic, the thought "Why isn't that truck pausing?" crossing my mind just before I become a hood ornament.
Ah well, it's a small price to pay for the knowledge that I can happily play with my baby all day and then watch a Blue Jays game at night. It's important - it's not like they play those games every day.
Kate Zimmerman is on vacation.