Some days when you're feeling sick, or the weather sucks, you indulge your kids to keep the peace (and much needed quiet) by allowing them more electronic time than usual. At least I do. I'm not a perfect parent (never said I was) and there are just times when it's too crappy to go out, or I feel like shit, and really, all I want to do is lie on the couch while I try to survive a killer cold. And the last thing I want to do is play play dough with the two little ones, which WILL result in many minutes of me muttering curses under my breath while I try to scrape the red goo out of my "almost white" carpets.
However there is a boundary that shouldn't be crossed. And that is when the kids start showing signs of addiction. Now. My kids come to their glee of electronic devices and computer games naturally. I myself, am an avid gamer. J is one as well. So the kids hear us talking about the previous nights raid in our game, and they want to be like Mom and Dad. Xavier has his own mini MMOs's that he gets his school friends into so that they can play and chat together online after school (once homework is done). Ashe is an avid Zelda lover. He frequently comes up to me with his big blue eyes and tells me how I am Zelda, and he promises to rescue me from the evil Gannon every time I am kidnapped. Soren, well, Soren doesn't talk English much, but he makes it very clear that Super Mario is his BFF.
But that doesn't mean that a love affair of electronic games means that you drop everything else for that. That is when it becomes an issue. And the issue happened this morning, after 2 weeks of me being KO'd by a cold, and crappy weather out today. I woke up this morning to Soren screaming at J for a DS. Soren doesn't own a DS. But he wanted his brothers. And J told him no. Hell broke loose.
Getting in the car to take Xavier to school, Soren flipped out when I told him he couldn't bring the family Nook with him so he could continue playing Angry Birds. (On a side note, what is so freaking addicitng about this game???? I don't play it but my mom does and somehow she got all three kids hooked on this. They even got angry birds stuffed animals in their Christmas stockings). I'll fess up here and now and say that there have been a few days where I have allowed Ashe and Soren to bring an electronic device with them to pick up Xavier at carpool. But in my defense, you try sitting in line for 40 minutes with two young children listening to kids songs every Monday through Friday, and tell me that if you could have a little bit of piece and quiet you wouldn't have done the same thing too! It makes for a very happy family when we each have something we like while we wait for so long in the car. But waiting for that long and just dropping off are two different things.
So today when we got home, and the whining continued I laid down the law. We were having an electronic black out today: NO Nooks, DS, TV, Xbox, etc. TODAY we were going to play with REAL toys. TODAY we were going to have face time. TODAY we are going to remind ourselves how much fun other things are that don't hook into a plug.
It took them about 5 minutes to realize Mama wasn't joking. They tried whining, screaming, cajoling, begging, promising me their favorite stuffed animals as hostages for good behavior. And I stuck to my guns. Initiating play, I told them they could ransack my bedroom and bring down blankets to make a fort. And huffing off, they went. And brought them down. And started working together as a team to build a fort. Next came the bean bags to make the fort cozy. Then came the backpacks for their adventures. Books to read, our stick horse Epona to ride around the fort. And before they realized it, it was lunch time and they had been having a blast. We made a game of cleaning up, and taking down the fort so we could eat.
Sometimes, despite it being easy to ignore an issue when your kids are happy and quiet, you have to Mom up, and force your kids to find another source of fun. Like the other times when I had to redirect Soren to draw on paper and not our "white" walls with flat paint. You have to deal with their tantrums, sometimes epic ones, and say "Not Today".
Now just don't tell the kids I snuck down here to use my electronics to type this ok? It might get me in trouble. ;)