October 21, 2007

A Conversation Between A Boy & His Mom

Mom: Didn't Dad ask you to turn that video game off?

Boy: Yeah.

Mom: Why are you still playing it?

Boy: (shrugs) I don't know.

Mom: (simmering gently) Dad's already asked a few times.

Boy: (eyes glued to video game)

Mom: (big sigh) I'm trying to let you make your own decisions about how much time to spend playing video games and on the computer but it's really hard when it seems like you're not paying attention to any of the other things around you. There's a whole wonderful world out there but you can't see it if you're staring at a screen all the time.

Boy: (eyes glued to video game)

Mom: (starting to boil)

Boy: (eyes glued to video game)

Mom: (rolling boil) Would you like to know how close you are to having no screens at all? Ever?!

Boy: (eyes get large and stare at mom in disbelief)

Mom: Okay, I don't mean ever. I'm just really struggling with the video games and I'm thinking that for my own sanity we may need a screen-free week.

Boy: A whole week?!

Mom: I'm not saying we need it now. I want to try working out a balance without having to do that. I'm just saying that maybe we need to be without the screens for a while so you can remember what else you like to do. Let me read something to you from The Teenage Liberation Handbook. The writer says:

"I still think an 'anything goes' vacation in which you indulge some of your petty cravings is crucial. But it's just as crucial to recognize when you've had enough of that--and move on to phase two which is still a vacation, but a much more rejuvenating one, and will probably need to last anywhere from one week to a year. During this time do not strive to meet academic goals, but do actively experiment and play--no more excessive TV, eating, sleeping, VIDEO GAMES," (Mom's emphasis) "or hanging out with unexcited people. During this time you might experiment with transition rituals, or find other ways to engage with the world such as making new friends, changing your wardrobe to reflect your personality---"

Boy: I really need to do that. I need waaaaay more t-shirts about video games.

Mom: Right. Well. Anyway, the point is you've got to branch out. You have so many screen options now that I'm afraid you're forgetting about other stuff you really like.

Boy: Yeah. Like tetherball.

Mom: Exactly. Like tetherball.

Boy: Okay, tomorrow we'll spend 1/3 of the day playing tetherball, 1/3 of the day building that wooden T-Rex, and the other 1/3 playing video games.

Mom: Well. Yeah. We could.

Boy: Okay. Cool.

This is not exactly the outcome Mom was hoping for. It is what she asked for, though, so she's gonna roll with it.

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