So I’m sitting here with Mary Tyler Dad, dueling computers at the dining room table, and I says, “So was this whole Screen Break Week my idea or your idea?” And he says to me, “The school’s idea, right? Aren’t they pushing it?” Well, if by “pushing it” you mean leaving a little pamphlet in Mary Tyler Son’s cubbie in school, well then, yes, it was the school. So it seems that I was the instigator by taking said pamphlet and actually reading it and leaving it out in the open. Sigh.
Mary Tyler Dad likes himself a screen as well as the next guy, don’t get me wrong, but he’s also pushing for us to drop cable. That idea, though noble, fiscally responsible, and the right thing to do, gives me the heebie jeebies. I LOVE ME SOME SCREENS. All of them. I love all the screens! I love my television and my computer and my iPad (I may have two, possibly) and my iPhone. I LOVE ALL THE SCREENS!
Deep breathing . . .
Okay. Anyway. Screen Break Weak. I mean Week. Screen Break Week. Without a lot of conversation, we agreed to give this a go. Sadly, we had differing ideas of what a “break” meant. We are like the Ross and Rachel of middle aged parents. I assumed a break meant for the boy, but clearly, obviously, not for the parents. I mean we are grown ups, for cripes sakes. Mary Tyler Dad was taking the high road and assumed it would be for all of us. WHAT IN THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?
Well, we cleared that little misunderstanding up about one hour and forty-five minutes into Screen Break Week when I used the iPad to show the boy a YouTube video of a slam dunk contest. Thing is, if you aren’t using screens, you best plan yourself some activities. There are only so many Ninjago sets you can pant after in a Lego catalog before you begin to start karate chopping every animate and inanimate object in your home. Assuming you are a four year old boy with a screen not available to him. One of our afternoon activities was a slam dunk contest. Cool, right?
So I planned an afternoon of activities for us outside the house. As a family. Family fun activities! Sigh. I got a lot of complaints from the little one and a blank stare from the big one, but it was decided. When I reached for the iPad to help the kid get familiar with one of those said activities, my husband and I squabbled about the use of the screen. He thought screen break meant screen free. No screens. All week. Ha! I am still laughing about that one. I countered that screen break meant no screens for the little one for entertainment purposes, and limited screens for us, especially in the presence of said little one.
Truth is, I work from home. I can only do that work on a screen. It is that screen that connects me to everything in the world outside our walls. There is no more office for me to go to. No 8-10 hours of subsidized Facebook for my anymore. Nosiree, Bob! I need a screen. My take was that as long as the screen was being used as a tool, even in the presence of the little one, it had to be okay. Had to be. This was a deal breaker for me. Give me a break, am I right? How else to describe a slam dunk to a four year old who has never watched a basketball game in his life. That led to the argument, really.
Mary Tyler Dad thought I was sending the wrong message to the boy if the only way I could explain a slam dunk was through a screen. That, in essence, the screens in our life had become a crutch. I call BS on that one. There is a difference between using the screen as a reference tool, a sleek and completely modern reference tool, albeit, and using a screen as a babysitter. Which I never do. Ever. Never, ever, ever. Nope, note me. Move along, Judgy McJudgersons.
Anyway. So here we are, two days into Screen Break Weak. WEEK. Mary Tyler Dad and I are finally on the same page. Well. definitely in the same chapter. And we’re doing okay. On some level, it’s been a lot more challenging for the two adults in the house than our little one. He is still at that age that he has to do as we say, you know? And he takes most all of his cues from his parents. If we’re okay, he’s okay. If we’re cranky, well then, he will definitely feed into that dynamic.
Yesterday we got through the morning, our argument, and had a pretty nice day out as a family. We went to a local library that had open Lego time. That kind of, sort of blew Mary Tyler Son away. He got to play Legos with a table full of 7-8 year old boys. He was in heaven. And they didn’t make fun of him once. And actually seemed pretty interested in his opinions on Ninjago minifigs.
The boy was sulky and annoyed when it was time to leave for the slam dunk exhibition, but whatever. Transitions are always tough on this little guy. We had a great time. That was supremely cool. Like so cool. Those guys were awesome. Aside from the fact that they were the official slam dunk team for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and they all had penises, they were awesome. Do women not slam dunk? Honest question: If you’re a 6 foot plus WNBA player, don’t you dunk?
We finished up there, had a nice dinner out, and came home. The boy started landing on his little toddler bed after simulated slam dunks and it was hilarious. All was good. He fell asleep after the night’s chapter of Little House in the Big Woods. Day One over.
Day Two started our loudly. And roughly. Seemingly, not watching screens gives a little boy more testosterone. This morning he was rough and tumble. I shivered a little when Mary Tyler Dad left for work. We needed a plan. And quick. We ended up spending the day at Ikea, looking for “big boy” bedroom furniture. Having grown almost an inch since Christmas, it’s time. He loved it. I loved it. All was good.
To celebrate, Mary Tyler Son got a new Lego set. It’s cool. The deal was that we would buy it today and assemble it sometime later this week. Yeah, right. Giving a four year old a cool new toy and then telling him to wait until tomorrow? Not my best parenting decision. That made him furious and all that new found testosterone came roaring back. He settled down and we ended up having a nice evening with the neighbor girls who we were watching for a few hours.
Two days in and I think we’ll make it. There are lessons to be learned here. Ideally, for me, my goal with Screen Break Week is to do a better job of balancing working from home and mothering from home. My go to activity when I have to zip something out quickly is a screen. It is. I’m not proud of that. But it is what it is. I need to develop different strategies for engaging my boy and he needs to meet me half way.
Alright. End of day and I am beat. I’ll do a wrap up at week’s end. Wish us luck. And if you don’t want to miss any of our hilarious adventures as a family, subscribe to this here blog. Do it! Now — even during Screen Break Week!
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