My sister and I watched entirely too much television growing up. We even recorded some of that television on Beta and later on VHS because there was nothing worse than missing an episode of 21 Jump Street, or The Golden Girls.
Of course, those were shows we both wanted to watch. I can’t say the same for Beverly Hills Teens, and Allison didn’t give a crap about Voltron.
So we fought.
If I was hogging the television, Allison would destroy one of my toys. To retaliate for her awful show choices, I would draft a strongly worded letter to mom accusing Allison of some vague crime like disturbing the peace and demand that she be banned from watching TV for two weeks.
We only fought about television, and we were always fighting about television.
Then one day, dad grew tired of our bullshit. He sat us down and laid down the law.
“Michael, tomorrow is the start of your week,” he said. “For that week you pick, then it’s Allison’s week. Switch off, work it out, no fighting.”
We were in elementary school when dad made up “The Weeks,” as we came to call the rule. It lasted until I went away to college.
We traded time in half-hour blocks so that neither of us missed our favorite shows.
We set a value for baseball games and a contingency plan in case of extra innings.
We moderated our choices, rather than inflict truly awful viewing on our sibling because we knew that the following week it would be their turn to choose.
Weirdly, we even came to appreciate (or maybe just tolerate) the other person’s choices. I know more about Saved By The Bell than I’d care to admit; Allison has a solid grasp of The A-Team.
I doubt our dad had such high hopes for The Weeks. It was one of those silly dad rules that all dads give (and on occasion break when they want to pick the show). But that rule stuck, and although technology made it moot, its gift endures in the bond I share with my sister. We haven’t lived in the same city much since I went away to college, but we are close. So very close.
Thank you, dad, for that gift and a million other gifts.