One of my major "accomplishments" for this vacation week (so far) is watching all four episodes of "Wolf Hall" that have been aired, and might I just say, this show has grown on me. I was dubious about how TV would do justice to the novel. Then, when I started watching it, I was unsure of the director's approach of shooting the story as - I don't know the right terminology - vignettes? mini-scenes? - anyway, instead of trying for narrative continuity, the show moves from scene to scene with lapses in time between the scenes and between the episodes. Really, this makes a ton of sense, or else the show would be so long and cumbersome, no one but the most die-hard of Anglophiles (cough, cough *me and maybe Julia* cough, cough) would endure it.
But anyway, I digress. The point I want to make is not actually about Wolf Hall. The point is, as I was ensconced in my armchair with the iPad, rapt in the world of Tudor intrigue, Warren said (in slightly wounded tones):
"Maybe we could have watched that together."
And then I smiled and nodded and said something between "mm-hmm" and "okay", but what I was really thinking was,
NOT IN A MILLION YEARS, SUCKER! THIS IS MINE! GET SOMETHING OF YOUR OWN!!!
See, here's the thing: 99% of what I do in this house, I do *for* someone or *with* someone. In other words, either I wouldn't choose to do said activity because it doesn't hold any intrinsic interest for me (e.g., driving children to and from drama/soccer/dance/school concerts/speech therapy/what-have-you-all-else), or I choose to do an activity and am immediately swarmed by other family members who want to do the selfsame activity with me, and, not coincidentally, talk the entire time we're engaged in it. Activities I used to pursue purely for the solitary fun of it have now become Mother-Daughter Bonding Opportunities, whether I like it or not. If I take out my nail polishes, someone speeds to her room to bring her nail polish out. If I want to make a pan of brownies, two helpers apparate at my side, eager to 'help' (and eat half the raw batter). I sit down with my knitting needles and a pattern, and another family member wants me to teach her how to cast on. And then they talk to me. And talk. And talk. And talk.
"Why can't you eat raw eggs?"
"Why does that lady have so many children?"
"Can you do my nails on this hand, Mommy? Please?"
"Can you show me how to do that thing with the yarn?"
"What are we having for dinner? Is there anything else to eat that *I* like?"
"Can you not watch any more of these shows unless you watch them with me?"
"If you could live here now or anyplace else at any other time, what would you choose?"
"Can we each have a brownie before dinner?"
Here's a more concrete example: My guilty pleasure used to be watching Don't Be Tardy. I'd wait til everyone was occupied with other stuff, then I'd sneak into my room with the iPad and a crapton of laundry to fold and zone out. Then one day, one of the girls came into the room where I was hiding, and immediately became entranced. Then that child figured out that "folding laundry" meant "Mom's watching a borderline-inappropriate TV show that I like watching," and that show became a group activity, too. Now, I'm glad my kids want to spend time with me and do the things I do. I know that some day I will look back on these days with nostalgia and wish I could relive some small fraction of the time again.
I also know that not having anything - not a hobby, not a pursuit, not even a TV show - that doesn't become communal property is driving me slowly but surely batsh!t crazy. I am with these people or thinking about these people or doing stuff for these people all the time, and even when I have a few rare moments of precious, precious down time, they still can't keep their mitts off it. (And I'm not going to get into the fact that "sitting up in bed reading a book" equates to "it's time to have a lengthy heart-to-heart discussion about emotionally charged topics" for my loving husband, because that is a post in its OWN right.) So if I choose to sneak off into the corner and watch something that nobody else in the family knows I'm watching, it's not just because I'm being selfish or the show isn't family-friendly (although sometimes those things are true). It's because I need some small slice of time when I do not have to be Mom first and Caroline second. I need an hour or so once in awhile to be off in the ether, watching someone else resolve their problems (whether they be real, "reality," or fictional). What's more, I need it to be on my timetable and at my convenience, and I don't have to wait for those exceptionally rare moments when Warren and I are both awake and not doing something else.
Having said that, I may have found a way to keep the small interlopers away from my down time. I was happily ensconced with the iPad in my armchair, watching the intrigues of Tudor England (which must have been very cold, from the looks of things - the characters are filmed wearing all manner of caps and capes and furs, even indoors, and the somewhat risible silhouette the men sport makes a lot more sense when you figure they were wearing about seven layers of clothing at any one time) when Celeste walked by. She took a long gander at the action playing out on the screen, and then:
"Boring," she judged.
And shoved off.
Clearly, I've been choosing the wrong viewing material, what with my reality TV mavens and my fluffy comedy-dramas. What I need to do is find the most historically correct period costume dramas and watch those - a lot heavier on the Daniel Deronda and much lighter on the Drop Dead Diva. Anything made under the PBS imprimatur with long soliloquies and anguished main characters ought to do it. If you can think of anything that fits that bill, pass it along - Wolf Hall can't go on forever.
PS I would just like to point out, Anne Boleyn was well-known for having very dark brown, almost black eyes. This actress' eyes are blue. Now really, I ask you - would it have killed the producers to spring for some colored contacts? I can't concentrate for the historical inaccuracy!