Lately my days have started like this:
Baby L stirs, squawks, sits up in the bed at an unholy hour. Before I have even properly opened my eyes and certainly before I have managed to reach for my glasses, a thud comes from M’s room: the patter of not-so-tiny feet, a clambering onto my bed and the customary morning greeting: “Can I play the Wii?”
As the day continues I am constantly bombarded by euphemistic references to the little white box under the telly. “What can I do?” “What can I do now?” When I say we are going to lunch: “What can I do at lunch?” (this one a sly testing of the water to see if the little white box’s cousins: “Grandma’s iPad” or “whoever’s-smart-phone-I-can-con-off-them,” will be allowed an appearance).
When I mention at lunch that we are going to the circus (a surprise treat!) I am met with a droll “why?” When I say we will stop at home to walk the dog before the circus the dreaded “what can I do while you walk the dog?” makes a reappearance followed by “what can I not do?”
The Wii. You can’t play the f**king Wii. We are going to the goddamned circus what is wrong with you that you can’t wait five minutes without electronic stimulation? (N.B one of his uncles, who was also coming to the circus, waited with M while I popped the dog out).
Relaying my frustration with the constant barrage of Wii-related interrogation from my eldest child to my husband of an evening, I admit that I am thoroughly fed up. I am fed up of the first thing I hear in the morning being “can I play the Wii?” Fed up of that being the first question when we get back from anywhere (even the beach – all he wanted to know was if he could play the Wii when he got home!) Fed up of feeling a) like a terrible parent because he is addicted to technology, b) like a terrible parent because when I tell him to stop playing Wii and find something else to do he will not find anything that does not involve me and c) like a terrible parent for the arguments caused when he resists my attempts to curb his technology addiction.
I love you kid but L cannot play games with tiny pieces, he is a crawling/cruising machine at the moment, and we do not have a maid or a cook and my to-do list for your birthday, going back to work, you starting school, etc etc is running at about four pages. I love you but it is not true that I never play with you, I do, but I cannot entertain you all the time and you can’t play the Wii all day long it just isn’t healthy.
Daddy’s solution? Let him play the Wii. Without limits. Without nagging. Let him choose what he plays and if it the Wii just let it be. He will play it all day for a couple of days and then get bored of his own accord and find something else to do. And if this theory doesn’t pan out, it is only a month until he starts school and at least in the meantime I will get some peace from the constant asking about it.
Today I tried it. Why not. The day started with: “can I play the Wii?”
“You can choose what you do.”
He played Wii for four hours. It was 11am and we were going somewhere for 12pm. I couldn’t take it any more. I told him four hours was enough for now and to take a break for lunch. We went out for a few hours, including lunch with Grandma and the iPad.
When we got back I got the question: “what can I do?” which again was met with: “you can choose what to do.” He played the Wii for an hour before dinner.
Daddy came home and asked him to turn it off for dinner after finishing the current level. While Daddy and I said hello, how was your day, etc Daddy noticed M had started another level. Daddy said to turn it off. M whined. Daddy said if he had to turn it off there would be trouble. M turned it off.
M is currently whining that he wants to play with his (real) golf set. I point out that he chose to play Wii all day and now it is bath time and bed time but he can choose to play golf tomorrow if he wants to.
Today was peaceful. L crawled and played. I alternated playing with him and organising stuff on the laptop (one of the things on my to-do list). No one whined or argued about the Wii. But I still felt incredibly irritated watching M glued to the screen for four hours without a break. I know it is not good for him. He has so many toys: action figures, Batman and TMNT houses, Duplo, Lego, puzzles, a castle play set, colouring, playdoh, blocks, cars, a huge train set and a massive Hotwheels collection. All of which need minimum input from me (though even when I do play he loses interest after a few minutes). If we didn’t have L to pass them on to those toys would be out the door to the charity shop.
I still feel like a failure. I still feel like I want to throw the Wii in the bin. If Daddy’s theory doesn’t pan out, that may well be where M finds it one day.
On the other hand, it is the last month of freedom before he starts a life of school and work. He loves the Wii. I get a bit of peace and quiet to tackle my to-do list. He can read and write. He is ready for school. We went to a playground today.
Watch this space for tomorrow’s choices. I may choose not to care either way, but I doubt it.
Posted by BurntSupper.WordPress.com © A L Roark