There’s Nothing Wrong with a Little Escapism
In this week’s column, I’d like to share a few details about a typical day for my wife, Jill.
When the alarm sounds at 5:20 a.m., she wakes up and gets ready to go to work as a secretary in a small private school.
Jill starts her workday by helping students off the bus and greeting students and their parents at the school’s entrance, which seems simple enough. Simultaneously, she must answer the phone, along with any questions the teachers might have.
This is a small sample of some of the craziness that goes on at the start of a school day.
As Jill’s day continues, she deals with all of the payments people make for various reasons. She keeps all of the student records, creates all of the communication that goes out to parents, maintains the calendar so that people know what’s going on each day, answers calls and emails from parents, and provides technical support for staff.
That is the easy part of her job. She also works as the school’s de facto nurse, because administrators can’t afford to hire one. So, Jill must take care of anything from a simple tummy ache to a gaping head wound, both of which happen more often than one might think.
She helps to calm the students — and sometimes the staff — and must deal with situations that might make other trained professionals nervous.
As the school’s secretary, everyone comes to Jill for help, advice, and sometimes just to vent. I am always amazed by the stories about her day because they seem stranger than fiction. Not long ago, one of the students told her that he had broken his “spleen bone.”
Jill hears about many sad things that happen each day in the students’ lives. As much as she loves her job, it is tiring, and at the end of a long day, all she wants to do is hang out and watch a little TV.
Television has become a great way for her to unwind, for better or worse, but she would rather watch shows that offer some escapism and that are not emotionally draining. She gets enough of that in real life. Jill is not a fan of many of the scripted comedy shows, so that leaves reality television — specifically, cooking shows.
Cooking shows are fine when it’s just the two of us, but when our daughter, Alexus, was home for the holidays recently we had to put them on hold because Alexus finds them boring.
One day, we were searching for something to watch when we came across a reality TV dating show. We decided it would work for all three of us. Twelve hours later, we turned off the TV. We had binge-watched an entire season!
I don’t know if you are familiar with reality TV dating shows, but they are not exactly what one might consider life-affirming television that contributes to society. In fact, I think I actually lost some IQ points after watching the show.
In other words, we were hooked.
After Alexus returned home, Jill and I went back to the routine of watching cooking shows, except for two hours a week when we watch the reality TV dating show with Alexus. To do this, Alexus turns on the show at the same time that we do, and we all make fun of the crazy things we see on the program.
For two hours a week, we are present in the moment and enjoying life by escaping into a world that isn’t sad or scary. Most importantly, it’s two hours a week when no one thinks about having Huntington’s disease.
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