The loud wail some Aucklanders may have heard this week from the region of Mt Eden was no alarm, car horn or siren - it was me, reacting to the news our TV was on the blink.
A few crackly cranks and the main TV blew a fuse. The 20-year old set in the bedroom, which is really only there as an unsightly, dust-collecting ornament, has already broken down. The last remaining set is a small flat screen hoisted on the kitchen wall upon which played, each morning, a recently-axed breakfast television programme. These days it plays The Simpsons while dinner is prepared.
But, needs must. Picture, if you will, a 37-year-old, an almost-four-year-old and a two-year-old watching black shadows - which was all we could see - one Saturday night recently as we huddled on the kitchen floor.
Compounding the indignity was the fact that the movie being watched was one from the inexorable Melvin and the Chipmunks franchise. While we couldn't see much of their rodent-like CGI faces, unfortunately we could still hear the Christmas carols.
I know, I'm pathetic. But I, like many women, have sole charge of the kids at the time they need dinner and find it particularly difficult to cook something tasty and nutritious - heck, even edible - when I am constantly being interrupted to break up World War III.
In truth, I plonk them in front of the set and have half an hour of cooking time to myself.
Am I killing my children?
According to reports this week, well, yes.
In my defence, I can assure you that if the hushed, shamed conversations I've had with other mothers about their kids' TV viewing habits are anything to go by, I am not the only one.
The subject turns on particularly harsh thumb screws for parents when it comes to the topic of under-twos being allowed any TV time.
According to the newest findings, as reported by the Herald, paediatricians advise that under-twos should not watch any television and that older children should view no more than two hours a day.
* France has banned shows aimed at under-threes.
* Australia recommends that three- to-five-year-olds watch no more than an hour a day.
Reasonable limits, I know. I also realise there will be people reading this who are happy living without a TV at all and that their kids are bright, alert, and far less prone to the obesity and general decline most of us suffer.
My hat goes off to them, because they possibly are putting their back into parenting in a way many of us - myself included - are not.By Dita De Boni