There are days when I feel like my kids and I are sliding from one end to another on a giant seesaw of sound, trying to stop somewhere in that middle part, just above the fulcrum, where the balance is – the ever present fulcrum of yet another parenting conundrum. On the one end of this seesaw is max volume, as my kids are yelling with their hands around each other’s necks in their attempts at ‘socialising’ with one another. The other end is embodied by an eerie silence as each child is wrapped up their own little screen zone, completely ignoring one another.
I’m not 100% sure of this but I seem to remember as a child that that being stuck at either end of a seesaw isn’t ideal for extended periods.
It’s felt worse lately because we have all been at home together quite a lot without much escape. And what’s making it even WORSE is the prospect of a three month summer holiday for the teens fast approaching at the end of this week. THREE MONTHS!
How long have the kids been at home off school now? I think it’s about that at least, if not triple the time already.
Admittedly there are moments when they get along fine. They have spent time in the garden building a fort out of sticks lately and I’m delighted to see the creative harmony happening there.
On the other hand, we are all feeling slightly traumatised by a couple of recent board game attempts which ended up with one or other parent storming off in a rage after the bickering sucked all of the joy out of the game.
I’m telling myself that the yelling and fighting is a necessary part of growing up and sibling rivalry blahdiblah. I can cope with it if nobody resorts to physical violence. I can cope with it even better if they take it to another room so that I don’t have to listen to it either. After all, why should I have to hear the argument if it’s nothing to do with me anyway? You fight in there then sweeties while I sit here and pretend to drink my cup of tea in peace.
I am also trying to tell myself that extended periods of screen time won’t be the cause of the end of the Universe and every parent needs the peace and quiet after all those hours poured into rearing these humans.
Actually I do need to secretly admit I am quite grateful to the genius who invented those little metal rectangular portals into the internet. One of the enormous positives of screens that parents don’t often mention is how brilliant they are as a source of bribery, I mean motivation, to do things that need to be done, like clean bedrooms or study for exams.
We had a little incident this past week related to a missed online test. I’m not going to name names in the interest of not embarrassing my child, but the consequences for this particular child was there would be no screen time for that evening if they didn’t get their act into gear.
Unfortunately the bribery, I mean motivation, worked and the situation was sorted. I say UNfortunately because precious child admitted afterwards that they had planned a few alternative activities for the evening, like rearranging their bedroom and practicing a musical instrument instead, however there was no need for it now. Even though that choice was still available, apparently it wasn’t.
I suppose, on the other hand, when I’m settling down to an evening of Vikings, I don’t really want to be disturbed by the sounds of furniture being scrapped across the ceiling or the raucous strains of music practice, even though those sounds would blend in with that particular programme quite well actually.
Last night Nate said, “I remember the time you banned me from watching screens for a day”.
He was banned for one day and it was memorable?
He continued, “I got diarrhea from drinking pine needle tea that I made myself. I also created a new adventure board game in my bedroom. I used coffee to stain the map and my room stank of coffee for weeks.”
Oh yes, I remember that too.
I’m still not sure how to resolve the sound seesaw issue. I know I’m not the only parent continually struggling with the debate of how much screen time is too much, especially during the holidays, v.s. the exhausting process of teaching your kids to negotiate and communicate without bloodshed. And now even more so during these particular holidays coming when so many activities have been cancelled!!
In any event I suspect we’ll be stuck parenting on this seesaw of sound for many years to come, until my kids are fully grown. I guess the most important thing is to stand up with a leg on either side of that fulcrum applying gentle pressure to keep the seesaw pivoting, up and down, up and down – we certainly don’t want to all get stuck at either end in max volume or utter silence until the day they leave home.
The one thing I DO know about seesawing is that when it’s stationary it is no fun at all!