Yakima Mom

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Archive for the tag “electronics”

Unplug for the Summer


With all the angst I experience watching my youngest shoot people on his T-rated xbox games (it’s just a game, Mom. Sheesh!), I had this ridiculous idea: what if we went electronic free for the summer?

Not electricity free… we could still watch the four crappy stations that we get sporadically on the television. We could still use the lights and hairdryers and such. But what if we gave up on the xbox and World of Warcraft and posting and Twittering? What if we quit texting inane conversations (“So he’s like, “What did she say he said?” “So he goes, “OMG Really?!” “That’s so like stupid LOL.” “JK :-P”), and saved texting for truly important stuff (“movie is dun. pick me up”).

Imagine the time we would have to do fun stuff together! We could go places like the hands on art shop. We could walk the dogs (all four of them) together. We could play board games and work in the yard, and oh yeah… spend lots of time at the neighbor’s pool.

We could visit the library then come home and pile onto the hammock to read. We could create new recipes. We might even have big, family-style sit down breakfasts featuring pancakes and hash browns and sausage. It would be okay to start the day with such a big meal, because we’d have so much more time to go outside and play and work off those calories!

Unplug for the Summer could go viral! I could post it, and if the right back-to-nature, organic, recycling parents spread the word, we could have a nation of kids and parents playing in their yards and hiking nature trails and sitting on curbs licking ice cream cone drips from their wrists.

But right there lies the rub. I could post it. Clearly, the biggest issue in this great idea of mine is that I too would have to unplug… from facebook, twitter and reading blogs. And really, that’s not gonna happen.

I gave up facebooking and twittering for Lent this past spring. I missed my friends. I got behind on current events (Okay, yeah, I’m usually behind on current events, but I got even behinder). I began stretching the rules—Well, I’ll just read a few updates and won’t comment on anything, I reasoned. My 16 year old son gave up social media and the entire internet (except for homework research) and did a much better job than I did.

We won’t be unplugging for the summer at our house. Instead, I think we’ll try to enforce the actual screen time limits that often get mentioned, but never get followed. Jack will get his daily xbox hour. He’ll have an additional hour somewhere… either on the TV or computer. Michael, who is 16, working a part time job and playing football daily, can set his own limits if they are reasonable, though he cannot bring friends to dinner via texting. If he wants to visit them at dinner time, he can just invite them to come eat with us.

Kennedy, who has her own computer (purchased with her own money), tends to lie in her room watching reruns A LOT. We’ll have to enforce some kind of time limit for that, but as with most 13 year old girls, social time will pretty much override the importance of anything else, so I just need to get her to someone’s house.

So if you drive by the house this summer, and notice The Judge and I working in the yard sans kids, rest assured, they are safe in the house, each plugged in to something. Honk your horn and give me a wave, and I’ll send you a tweet when I’m finished.

The "New" Playdate

I just got home from taking my 13-year-old daughter to have her hair done. It’s the second time she’s gotten highlights, as the school has just begun allowing haircoloring this year. She’s too beautiful.

Anyway, $70 later, we arrive home to find the oldest on a computer, and the youngest (11), sprawled in a chair playing xbox. Then I see he’s wearing this nerdy little headset and appears to be talking to himself.

Ah, this is the “live” thing he’s been telling me about.

I sit down to watch a few minutes. Yes, it’s a horrible game I hate, but since he’s killing mutants instead of humans, it has somehow managed to make its way into the game library. “Mom, that’s Jacob!” he says, swinging the view of his droid or whatever it is toward a red humanoid thing.

“Hi Jacob,” I say. And then it hits me.

This is the playdate of the future.

No need to get in the car and drive to the park to meet up. Ride a bike ride over to a friends house? Forget it!

These are the… what do we call these years? The Tens? The Teens? Well, it’s a new decade, and it’s in the 21st century. Cell phones and ipods and $200 handheld personal games are the norm, even for 11-year-olds. My own little guy continually reminds me that all his buddies have their own phone, their own email, and I don’t know… I think one even has a car a waiting for him.

So as I write this, I’m listening to one side of Jack’s conversation. It’s almost as disturbing as overhearing people in the grocery store having a loud and animated conversation with the little bluetooth thingy in their ears.

“So yeah, Lisa. I just got out of the hospital.” (Silence.) “Yeah, yeah… two days! The infection had moved and my toe was like the size of an elephant! (Silence.) No really! The doctor said he’s never seen so much… Hey have you tried that new digestive yogurt?”

Someone help me… please…

Well, Jack’s conversation isn’t quite as bad. I heard him announce that he had to pee and to wait for him (mad dash down hall, 5 second delay, mad dash back–clearly no handwashing involved). And there seems to be some conversation about who’s on the bottom and whose on top… but I don’t think it’s anything naughty because those comments were followed by, “Watch out! There’s a chopper coming down!”

The details are a digression, really. The point is, Jack is having a great time “playing with a friend” but there’s no one here. There’s nobody asking, “Do you guys have any cookies?” No doors being left wide open so that I can yell, “Hey! Shut the door!” No red-cheeked, cold faces asking for hot cocoa. No wet shoes piled by the door. No legos… nothing.

I couldn’t live very well with out my mac and iphone and unlimited access to the internet, so I don’t really have much room to talk. But I like my friends best face to face, hugging and laughing and right there IN FRONT OF ME. And for all their messes and hungries and rides that need to be taken care of, I like Jack’s friends that way too, messing up the house, raiding the fridge and banging through the back door.

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