Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Family Forte: Hicks, Homes, and Hope

by: Topher Wiles

     “What the hick?” is a question that caused me to face-palm at 2am.  At this moment, you might be wondering the same thing as me.  What did my two year old girl say?  Ashley had asked Clara to repeat that utterance and sure enough, “What the hick?” is exactly what my sweet little girl meant to exclaim.  After being positive of what she said, as parents, we began our super-sleuthing role of ascertaining the origin of her words.  We have no problem with any of the three words.  “What?” is an interrogative question that we generally encourage.   I’ve already used the definite article “the” five times in this writing.  And let’s face it, I’m a Tennessee boy who has at times epitomized the word “hick.”  We don’t have a problem with the words themselves, but where did Clara learn to string them together into this specific usage?  
     “Where did you learn to say those words, Clara?” is the question my darling wife asked.  Immediately her blame was leveled at her five year old brother, Micah, who was sleeping soundly in the recliner, waiting patiently on me to come home from baseball practice. My interrogation of Micah would be postponed due to my five year old not being able to stay awake past 9pm.  Thus I headed to bed with the puzzling questions on my mind, “Where did he learn it and why would Micah think that phrase is appropriate to share with his sister?”

     While I fell asleep quickly, my mind continued its detective style work well into the dark recesses of the night, waking me when with a fuzzy dreamy image of a red-bearded guy wearing a “DP” t-shirt yelling, “What the hick!” in my face.  That’s right, I awoke dreaming of Tyler from the hit Youtube channel, “Dude Perfect.”  These trick-shotting sports junkies are so popular that you can buy their brand specific football at Walmart.  My boys and I have been following the five man Dude Perfect crew for about five years, ever since their hit video, “Pickup Basketball Stereotypes” saw me laughing hard enough to spill milk from my nose.  Yes, sometimes these goofball guys get a little crazy with their antics.  Yes, their funny usage of odd words gets a little more colorful than I want for my two year old little girl.  Yes, it is my own desire to watch Dude Perfect videos that allowed the phrase, “What the hick?” to creep into Micah and Clara’s vernacular.  Thus my 2am face-palm. 

     Please understand that I don’t blame Dude Perfect for their influence on my little girl.  Their crazy antics and colorful wording reaches their target audience of 13 to 35 year old males very well.  It isn’t their fault that I have seen every single video on their YouTube channel, all 202 of them.  It was my desire for something a little more mature that influenced my young children.  This isn’t the first time we have had to reassess our pleasure watching habits and the influence they have on our family. 
Thirteen years ago, we gave up our TV.  That’s right, we cleared the spot on our living room tv-stand around the time Google bought Youtube, Nintendo launched the Wii, and Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.   It was my beautiful bride who first suggested we unplug as our evening viewing pleasure consisted of a steady diet of “Friends” reruns and the hot new show, “How I Met Your Mother.”  Ashley’s question, “What do you think of getting rid of the TV?” was probably met with a responding question similar to “What the hick?”  I’m grateful I followed my wife’s suggestion (admittedly after much initial protest), and we’ve never looked back. 
     Plenty of others have questioned our sanity.  Some people thought we were crazy when they heard we were TV-less in our home.  “How will you get the news?”  “How will you know the weather forecast?”  “If tornados come, are you going to be safe?”  Even at church, people were concerned with our decision to get rid of the TV.  Some well-meaning friends claimed we’d be sheltering our kids too much without TV.   If making sure our children’s role models aren’t Joey Tribbiani and Barney Stinson is “sheltering”, then I think sheltering is a wise choice. 
     What did we do with the five+ hours of TV watching that the average American loses from their day in front of a screen?  We reinvested our time into tennis, books, hiking, chess games, Bible study, piano playing, volunteering, and more.  People have often asked how we are able to accomplish so much in any given day, to which we usually respond, “We just don’t own a TV.”
     Unfortunately, with the rise of personal mobile TV screens called SmartPhones, I’ve seen some of my valuable time waste away and some of the cultural influences creep back in.  According to, the average person is spending over four hours a day on their smart phones, and I’m probably one of them if Dude Perfect’s influence on my 2 year old is any indication.   With all the current data documenting the negative influence of screen time on physical, emotional, and spiritual health, it’s time to reassess my time investments.   I think I’ll start making my changes by deleting the Youtube app.   With all the recent international buzz over the creepy and suicidal “MoMo” influence on our children today, deleting Youtube from my personal mobile device may be one of the best things I can do for my family. 
     Whether it’s the influence the world is having on your precious children or an honest self-assessment of how you’ve been investing your time, I invite you to join me as together we strive to invest the best in our families.   E-mail me at if you’ve got a idea for wise time investment suited for a hopeful hick like me.

“Act like people with good sense and not like the unwise. These are evil times, so make every minute count.” – Ephesians 5:15-16

For further reading check out the New York Times article: How to CutChildren’s Screen Time? Say No to Yourself First.   

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,