Thursday, September 1, 2011

Over and Over and Over Again... And Over and Over and Over................

We'll start this blog with a video aid:

Now what, you ask, does this have to with anything? The video above is the intro to the 1988 Indianapolis 500 and, without exaggeration, I must have seen this at least 1,000 times.

Back in those days the Indy 500 was shown weeks later on local television in Indy. Each year I would anxiously await the VHS tape from one of my two grandmas for the recording of the race. Once I had it I would watch it over, and over, and over again. There was something special about the 88 race; I'm not sure what, but without a doubt I watched this race more than any other.

Many parents have asked me why their kids watch the same thing over and over and not get bored while the parent, if they hear that "one song" or "one joke" one more time they are going to scream. Well, for me at least, each time I watched the race is was as if it was new all over again. It never got boring. I knew what was going to happen and yet I was always surprised when Danny Sullivan hits the wall while leading on lap 101.

Now I said I watched this many times and I was not kidding when I said, "1,000 times." How do I know this? As the story goes, I went through a couple  VCR's because I would watch, rewind, watch, rewind, watch and, well, you get the idea.

It just wasn't the Indy 500 I would watch over and over again. One Saturday afternoon there was a PBA (Professional Bowling Association) tournament that was on ABC and during this tourney a bowler had shot that he originally got nine of the ten pins, but then a pin rolled all the way around knocking the last one down. The bowler was so excited that he did a slide on the approach as if he were sliding into home plate at Yankee Stadium. The mixture between the sensory bliss of watching the pin roll all the way around and taking the tenth pin out to the bowler's extreme reaction made this the highest of sensory candy. If I knew the bowler's name, and could find it on YouTube it most certainly would be a part of this... and then again I might not be able to stop watching it.

Those are a couple of examples and truly, whatever the thing that is watched over and over again, it truly is as exciting as the first time. There is safety in knowing what's going to happen and yet it is like watching it for the first time.

Often I get asked, "How can I get my child to watch something else?" I don't have that answer because whatever is that one video, or event, is above all else. Even after I had the 89, 90, and 91 races on VHS I would still gravitate towards the 88 race. It wasn't until the 1992 Indy 500 that I had a new favorite. It didn't hurt that my favorite driver at the time, Al Unser Jr., won the race and it didn't hurt that I was at the event seated above the finish line it what would be the closest finish in 500 history. I was nine then, and yet even then I would watch the race over and over again. My favorite past time before school? Watch as much of the race as possible. When I got home and Press Your Luck was over? Yup, I watched more of the race that I had already seen more times than anyone else would like to recall.

Here's an odd thing now; I can't stand to watch something I've already watched. About 10 years ago there was a major shift and if a sporting event is tape delayed I won't watch it (because of that I am usually angry at NBC's Olympic coverage) and if it's a movie I've seen I won't watch it again. So parents, there might just be hope after all as eventually I got over watching the same things over and over again. However, I'm sure my mom and dad wish it came sooner because they probably know more about the 1988 Indy 500 than they ever wanted to and, perhaps, the sound of the Paul Page, the announcer in the video, sends shivers down their spine as they remember watching the intro over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over...


  1. When Aaron learned how to press the search button on the remote life changed. That bowler falling down? Aaron not only watched it over and over and over, he would fall down with him over and over and over. His knees and elbows looked like they were the result of child abuse. The result? VHS abuse lead to the purchase of new ones. Wish they would've had DVD players back then.

  2. I believe he was only three and four then. mum

  3. Thank you for this insight! My little guy will watch the same videos over and over and over again. Or play the same computer games over and over and over again. He always laughs and giggles at the same place in the videos. I always thought it made him feel safe. He knows what to expect. No surprises.It is calming to him. Thank you for giving your insight. Please know it helps me to know my little guy better. Thank you!!

  4. I do have an answer to this question- new things need to be slowly introduced and with patience. First few tries might not work so well, but keep trying. After the child started to like the new thing consistently, then it's time to introduce another new thing. The key objective, if I remember, is to diverse the child's interest and phase out the obsessions that are maladaptive.

    Of course, if the obsessions doesn't really interfere the kid's ability to function in the community, then it's OK to leave it as is and just provide some incentives for trying new things.

  5. My daughter (17) still watches stuff again and again...and again. But she does have a larger rotation than she did when she was small. I remember when she was 4, she used to watch "Spirit"..a cartoon movie about a horse. I used to just hear it in the background, and pay not much attention to it. One day I said to her..."Is that Spanish??" And she said, "Yes. See it looks the same and sounds different!" Yes...and she watched it in Spanish for about a year.