Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I've made concessions. I've caved in. I have effectively let go of certain standards I set in place for my parenting. I can no longer claim that I am a hard ass (look, people, that word appears in the BIBLE, God's HOLY WORD! You know, as in Balaam's A**?? Please don't e-mail me.)
Today, I bought my children a Nintendo DS. All their friends have one. Most have a PlayStation or a Wii or an XBox....I have resisted for years on principle. When I taught high school English (before I had kids) , I DELIGHTED in taking away my students' media devices in favor of having them discover literary masterpieces like Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird ," Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" or Charles Dickens;' "Oliver Twist." I would SMILE when I placed the CD player or cell phone in my locked drawer. I VOWED to never allow my children to replace real literature with cheap imitation.
Yes, this English teacher, who once viewed all video games as tools of Satan to make the younger generations stupider, purchased a mindless instrument of entertainment for her own children. At the beginning of the summer, I shamelessly bribed my children, who had been asking for a DS for 2 solid years, with the promise of a shiny, glimmering personal entertainment system if they would each read for 1,000 minutes before the new school year. Well, today they called my bluff. As I checked off the final box signifying the culmination of a summer of books, I drew a deep breath and announced, "Well, guys, I guess it's DS day." They screamed. They hollered. They danced. They got jiggy with it.
"Mommy, I LOVE you!"
"YESSSSSSS! You are SO much cooler than B****'s mom."
"You can totally borrow my DS if you want to, mom!"
We drove to Best Buy and threw down the cash (Holy Crap) necessary to bring home a Nintendo DS and some games to match. They asked for a special DS case and special DS stickers to decorate the intelligence robbing intruder but, I said NO. Good for me. I still have some principles.
The ride home was difficult for me. I imagined them deciding to forego college and live with us instead. I imagined 2 overweight versions of my children, 20 years down the road, sitting on my couch, drinking Pepsi and eating Funyuns while gazing vacantly into the DS that now sat ominously perched in the trunk. I have a penchant for the dramatic.
My own plan had backfired. I was unprepared. I had to come up with a plan and needed to buy some time. So, I told a small white lie.
"Guys, you can't use the DS for 3 hours. It has to charge. If you use it before it's all the way charged, it won't work right."
I actually pretended to read that info out of the instruction manual, in my "instruction manual voice."
I figured I could come up with some guidelines to save the intellectual prowess of our family in the meantime.
While making spaghetti , green beans and salad for dinner (see, I'm really a good mother) , I came up with the following plan for their video game use:
1) You may only play the DS for as many minutes as you have already READ that day. They put in reading minutes (20 minutes minimum) and they can play the DS........ 20 minutes reading equals 20 minutes video game time.
2) I am the official DS librarian. I keep the DS's and kids can CHECK THEM OUT and BACK IN from ME. There will be no hiding your DS in your bed and playing it until 1 in the morning.
I'm famous for making up hard a** rules that are rigorously enforced for 2 weeks. My husband is famous for the magical 3 day enforcement. I'm sure that's because he's a pastor, you know, the trinity, Jesus rose again after 3 days, etc...
Here's hoping that I can stick to my guns..........