Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

Shocking news:  I'm not a perfect parent.  

I know, right?  Who'da thought?!  I'll give you a moment to collect your jaw and it's contents.

Ready for another one? Steady now.

I'm not a perfect anything.

Phew.  I'm glad I got that off my- you know the story.

It so happens that I'm not a huge fan of the set-up of your average creativity sucking machine school.  Too much sit here do this and not enough of - well, anything else, really.

Not really news to anyone, but I felt a teensy bit of back story was in order to help bring the next bit into sharper focus.

I've observed that during their time at school, my kids had no time for much else.  Whenever we had holidays, after a few days they would decompress and start finding things they enjoyed all over again.  It was with this in mind that I decided to just let it all hang out when we finished the last school year; just let them do whatever they wanted.

What they wanted was screens.  iPod games, iPad games, Wii games and Netflix watching (there are eleven - count 'em - ELEVEN different Power Rangers series that Brother was gorging on).  It was a brain numbing technology overdose.  I watched and secretly wanted them to choose something else but kept saying that they needed the down time so they could do a major un-school decompression.  I believe(d) it was good for them.  I mean, surely, they'd get to a point of having had enough.

I'm here to tell you: Unsurely.  That point of too much screen time - "Mom, I'm tired of this, let's do something else," said none of my kids ever.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, they were totally uncooperative with me, with our household, with each other.  There was Major bitching and moaning when they were asked to help out around the house.  They did not cooperate with the simplest requirements (pick up your dirty clothes off the floor of the bathroom, turn of the lights, bring your plate the three oppressively long uphill-both-ways-in-wintertime feet to the kitchen - things like that).

It got to the point where everything felt like it was a fight.  And I was really losing my tolerance for their faces constantly being reflected back at them in a screen.

In an effort provide a consequence for their thoughtless ignoring of our requests, I began deducting one hour of screen privilege for the things I had reminded them of some googol times.  Clothes on the bathroom floor?  One hour off for BOTH of them.

Bathroom light left on (a-@#$@^king-gain)? One hour off for BOTH of them (I'm not dealing with the whole "It was him/It was her" scenario.  And they would have to help each other remember.  At least, that was my theory.

Some days they'd have lost three hours of time.  But it didn't matter because we were now going out and doing stuff (I was working for the month of July).

It did help a little, but not that much.  And then.

I had had enough.

(I need to tell you that this story reads like it was just a few squabbles and me being a total overlord and that's because I'm not a perfect story teller either - so I want to clarify that I - WE, the mister and I - had been trying to foster and encourage some more responsible behaviours for a while.  We spoke to them about living in a community and doing their part; about doing things that are not always fun, but that are important.

To no avail.

I had had enough.

Enter, three days ago which I will call the IHHE point in time.  Because - say it with me - I had...



"That's IT!" I declared.  "Screen privileges are suspended until further notice!"  Or something like that. Faces slid to the floor.  Protests were staged.  Lectures were thrown - aggressively.

You're not babies, you're big kids, I said.
Eight and TEN! I may have said a little loudly.
You can be more responsible people, I said.
I'd be happy to keep picking up after you, I sang with Nutrasweetness.
And treat you like toddlers, I smiled.
Would you like that?, I cooed.


Then when you can act like more responsible people, 
I squinty-eyed, scary-quiet-voiced at the two deer in my headlights
you can have the same privileges as responsible people.  Heavy and angry declarations from a tired and had-it-up-to-here, frustrated me.

Not my best moment, no.  (Why do you ask?)

And guess what?  It kind of was.

Secondary to any behavior modification I was looking to achieve, the real benefit is .... dun-dun-dunnnnnnn - they have been PLAYING!  With toys! And each other!  Happily!

Out came the legos, the animals, the Imagination.  I mean, we had "celebrity guests" - Bear and Other Bear who had a made up non-actual-celebrity name I can't remember now- at breakfast the other day.

I shared my shower with a giant lego boat, a turtle, a spiderman, a zebra, a crab and an elephant today.

Sister has constructed a house, complete with solar panels!  (Lego, people, lego house with lego "solar panels".)

And yes folks, even a little cooperation.  Is it carrot and stick?  Yes.  Yes it is.
Apparently, I'm not afraid to use it.

We've watched a few documentaries and some Doctor Who together, and will carry on with that for now.  iWhatevers will make a return when the time is right.


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