Sunday, March 13, 2011

Books for Screen

I might as well have announced we were all going clothes shopping. Or that I was going to make only Jell-o for a whole month. Or that all three of them had to donate a kidney. Without anesthesia. The reaction I got would have been the same. 

This weekend there would be no screen--DS, Gameboy, Computer, or TV--unless there was reading first. Thirty minutes of reading for 30 minutes of screen. And there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Ethan was certain this would be the downfall of everything. He would have to stay up three days in a row reading just to be able to ever play his DS again. (Did I mention he's a bit dramatic?)

Jonah immediately started looking for ways to get around the temporary rule: he wrote down the alphabet, upper and lower case, and told me that by staring at that page he could read every word that was ever written just by rearranging the letters in his head. I said, "No good. Get a book."

Isaac complained the least, but then again, he doesn't spend as much time with "screen" activities as the other boys who had just acquired the newest Pokemon game three days earlier.

Friday morning I woke up to the amazing sound of pages turning. It was like a dream! Until I found Jonah in his room, the glow of his DS lighting his face from under the covers of his bed. Busted! I found several possible books for Jonah to read and he resigned himself to the written word. But when I checked on him ten minutes later, he was back at the DS again. I took it.

Ethan was still being pretty dramatic about the reading rule and said there was no way he would be able to do his homework because he didn't have enough time. I told him that homework was "free" screen, but he demanded that it wasn't and that it would be my fault when he failed.

Isaac was reading his Garfield comic book.

By 9 am I was ready to give it up. There was bickering and whining and I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted the peace the DS brings! But then Jonah took a book to Isaac's basketball game and read the entire 90 minutes. He finished Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs by Ursula Vernon.

Sunday afternoon, I was pleased when Ethan began listening to an inspirational talk on CD by John Bytheway. "Can I count this as reading?" Ethan asked. I was about to say, "no way" when he added, "I will stop listening to it if you say no."

He'd found my weak spot. I let it count.

I stuck it out and now, Sunday afternoon at 4pm, I have to say I am very much looking forward to Monday. The kids have been playing with each other all afternoon, waiting for screen time. And it's not the kind of playing that goes well with a parental nap. Unless you are the type of parent who runs upstairs and gets into a deep sleep before the other parent finishes cleaning up from lunch.

I'm not sure I'll do Books for Screen. The policing is what is getting me. I can't possibly keep track of three boys reading times and screen times and then do all that math to make sure they are getting the right amount of each. I'm not Einstein. Really, it's a lot of work. 

I'm more of an all or nothing parent. So in the future, I think we will have screen days and no screen days. On screen days the kids can knock themselves out with screen. The next day they will have to find other ways to entertain themselves.

I'm guessing it won't be reading books. 

I'm hoping it won't be annoying me.


Chelsea said...

Okay, really truly you are hilarious. I love the way you write EXACTLY how I feel, so exactly that I find myself laughing out loud. When I have no screen days (like on days off from school) I always wonder if the pros of this really do in fact outweigh the cons of screen time? I guess if parenting was easy, it wouldn't be worth it? Ha.

Samurai Mom said...

The first month was the hardest and they kept complaining for the first year but now they don't even try. We love being unplugged, probably our best parenting decision ever. If you want to motivate them, tell them that in our family no one gets to see any screen at all until dad gets home from work. EVERY DAY but Saturday. They will probably feel pretty lucky.