Thursday, March 30, 2017

Choosing laughter

I was reminded  by a couple of good friends today that there is a lot of laughter to be found when our world is spiralling.

This was yesterday's spiral.

It all began at 12:15pm. I'm sure it actually started the moment I got up, I am a hot mess, but this time sticks in my mind because it's when I looked at the clock and realized I screwed up.

Nana had to be at the doctor in 15 minutes. The doctor was 10 minutes away. I have a 3 year old. Times the 4, carry the 2 and all to the power of 5. Let's  a face it, the math wasn't looking good.

Cue screaming down the stairs at the toddler to put their shoes on and hoping Nana heard that too because you don't have time to run downstairs and tell them in person. Gather the 12 year old that makes poor choices and can't be home alone, very against his will, and explain that he'll be doing schoolwork in the car today. Grab your purse as they all begin to file out the door and then notice to white fur balls barking and jumping at the door.

That's right, you're dog sitting for a few hours. Oops, forgot about that didn't you?

Scoop them up and throw them in the truck (gently of course) and squeal your tires as you race down the driveway.

You're on the road taking deep breaths and attempting to chill the heck out. She'll only be a few minutes late. Then she drops the bomb. "Oh, my appointment is at 1:30."

Say what now?!?!??!

Quick mental math tells you that by the time you go home, let the dogs pee, handle the toddler tantrum that you didn't go where you said you were going, and finally remove surly tweenager from the vehicle it will be time to load them all right back up.

And so you persevere.

But not without unleashing a slew of things that you can't take back and will regret.

Why is the time different? Why can't people communicate? Why doesn't anyone want to try and help you? Why can't people help themselves.

Of course your choice words lead to their choice words and you find out that you challenged them by asking the time for the appointment, you told them the electronic calendar malfunction was fixed and you always yell at them for bothering the kids during school time so that's why they can't come and talk to you.

That was a lot of phenomenal cosmic yelling in an itty bitty truck cab space. My super hero name today should be counterproductive woman.

Oh well, apologies all around. Nana arrives at the doctor. Now it's time to sit and waste be wise the math doesn't add up. Drive home + unload + gas prices + reload + mommy sanity = might as well sit and wait.

Not everyone agrees. The dogs whimper or bark at everyone that walks by the truck. The tweenager can't read the Iliad with all the dog noise. Toddler needs everything in her life to be different.

McDonalds it is. So much for the healthy eating, less spending goal. Plain cheeseburgers and cold sodas fix this moment, albeit temporarily. There goes the gas cost savings, literally right out the drive through window.

Drive around long enough to lull the dogs into complacency and you can park again. Tweenager finishes the Iliad. Toddler needs to stop asking questions or you cannot be friends anymore. You let her use Snapchat in an effort at peace and quiet. The dogs don't like Snapchat. They're back to whimpering and barking intermittently, it's very unsettling.

The doctor appointment goes long. It's now been 2.5 hours since you last saw the outside of your vehicle. There may have been some poor planning and poor choices made. Just as you're beginning to think this McDonalds scented cab is your new forever home, Nana appears.

You check in to see how the appointment went. She tries to give you an appointment card for the next time. You unleash the fury of a thousand angry squirrels as you explain that you want communication and your online calendar not an appointment card. You sound and look like a surly toddler stomping her feet. Everyone quietly (and maybe a little scaredly) sits still for the final five minutes of the ride home.

The dogs, children and Nana scatter like delinquents when the cops show up and you stand and wonder how life got this way. Oh well, back to life right?

You look down at your phone and see the time, 3:30, and run in yelling at the toddler to get her shoes on, it's time for swim practice.

Here we go again.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

So much to say!!!

This subject weighs super heavy on me. It eats away at my soul bit by bit. I'm forced to face it everyday and it continues to get more and more challenging.

Kids and Technology.

I've read the blogs. Followed the guidelines. Seen the news. I know we live in a different world nowadays. But even with all the advice that the internet has offered me, I still just don't know what to do. It all feels hopeless.

When is the appropriate time for a child to get a cell phone? I think, and hope, that need is the primary factor here. Are they away from you for significant periods of time with no other way to contact you? Then maybe it's time.

Why are they away from you for significant periods of time with no way to contact you? Did you send them on a walkabout or is it because our country has abolished pay phones from the face of the earth? If it's because they're 16 or older, you get a pass. Your kids should be away from you for significant periods of time, and it is the government's fault that you don't have payphones available.

Okay, need established. Now what type of phone do you get them? No kid needs a smartphone. Phones are for calling and texting, that is their purpose (she says as she writes a blog on her smartphone hypocritically.) But if you don't get them one, they will not be the cool kid. Scarred for life. Or so society tells us. Somehow we've come to believe that our kids need a $700 piece of technology that has a 75% chance of breaking within the first month (hope you got the insurance) and 100% chance of being outdated within 2 years. Or, maybe you're in this to save money. A flip phone and a tablet seem silly when a smartphone could do it all in one conveniently overpriced device ( thats why I have one:))

A smartphone, tablet, iPod etc... opens your child to the entire world! That's pretty amazing, as well as amazingly terrifying. I think it's wonderful that you have the one kid in existence who doesn't come to crave the instant gratification of receiving a text, or experience the thrill of constantly checking for new notifications. It's even more wonderful that your child respects you enough to always follow the guidelines you gave them for when they can use it, and what's appropriate. Sadly, I think a lot of our kids are not the same way.

I think a lot of our kids get bullied or are bullies. I think a lot are sleep deprived from staring at the glowing screen waiting for the notification that never came. I think many children have found addictive games, pornography and foul things that their precious eyes cannot unsee. I think these things are happening through the lens of their personal electronics. I'm not saying shelter your kids, but I am saying a certain maturity level may be required to handle our technological world. If they really need/want technology, couldn't we share our devices til they've proven themselves worthy of this grandiose prize?

Now, off my scary technology soapbox and on to my social query soapbox. Can your child function without technology? I'm asking because when my child invites them to play, they bring it along. Their personal technology device, meant for one person, is brought along when they hang out with friends. Is it in case my kid isn't fun enough? I'm slightly baffled as to why your child wants to play on his phone while sitting on my couch. Isn't it the same as when he's on his couch? Is it because I have air conditioning? Is your child setup for the lifetime of social interactions that will need to occur without technology in hand? Because they don't even look up from the screen when they're talking to me.

Do I sound pretentious enough yet? Well, here's the laughable part, my kids are crawling with technology. Even my 3 year old has a phone (of sorts). But I'm finding their technology use frightening. My 10 year old asked to play a video game in the car today. We were going to the grocery store 2 minutes down the road. He sounded desperate. The game wouldn't have even loaded in that time (I didn't say they have quality technology). One of my 12 year olds snuck away from his own slumber party to watch YouTubers play video games (his real friends were in his house playing real video games at the time). My 3 boys go to a school with Technology Academy in the name. My husband is a software engineer, creating technology is his job.

I say all this just to get it off my chest. Kids and technology pisses me off. Now let me tell you what I've learned and what I'm doing to regain some sanity.

No personal devices (tablets, ds, iPod etc...) They have computers for school so they have access to things they both need and want online. I've found that they cannot control themselves with personal devices. They're either on it all the time or they haven't even charged it for 2 weeks. Either scenario is a waste. Personal devices are also too easy to hide what they're doing and where they're doing it. If your kid has a personal device, please keep it that way. I don't enjoy it when they share it with my kid.

Phones. My 12 year olds have had them for almost a year. My 10 year old and 3 year old have old phones of ours that don't have service but can make calls via WiFi. They all pretty much exist so that we can play Pokemon GO as a family. I am way overpaying for this service. The phones must sit on a centrally located charger at home and they are not allowed to put any app on the phone without parental permission. They should be for emergencies. They are not. It's sad. Don't buy your kids a phone unless you have to.

Gaming systems. I'm actually a fan of these. It's a way for multiple kids to enjoy technology together. It's in a centrally located area and can easily have set time limits. I still like the trampoline more, but gaming systems are pretty okay. But, I'm not a fan of that being the only thing your kid wants to do when he comes to my house to hang out. We have a lot of cool **it.

After today, here's what I'm  I going to do. I'm​ setting up a technology drop box at my house asap. From now on you'll be asked to leave the ball and chain there (yes this goes for adults too. No I'm not referring to putting your wife in the box.) and forced to enjoy the lovely company of the many people that live in my home when you come visit. If you need that personal screen time, feel free to leave. (Jumped right back on my high horse didn't I?) Okay, okay, I will allow calls and texts, after all that is a phones purpose.

Rant over for now. I like technology, I swear I do. I just don't know how it fits with kids who are exploring boundaries and learning how our society works.

P.S. I didn't even touch on this, but if anyone can explain the zombie like affect that the television causes, I'd love to learn more. I let the 3 year old watch trolls this morning and managed to mesmerize 8 different 10-12 year old boys to the point that they could not move or respond. Infomercials seem to work equally well. What's up with that?