Unpluggedness (I made that up)

Not sure I should admit everything I admit, but hey…I’m keeping it real. Besides, for a writer, my material is endless. I can’t make this stuff up.

This week is spring break for my kids. It has been a bit ruined so far with my nasty cold which has left me barking like a seal and unable to swallow much since my throat is on fire. Other than that, it’s nice to have the down time.

Yesterday as I lay helpless on the couch, I began to realize that if I had two days stuck on the couch, unable to…or rather unwilling to move, my children’s eyeballs would dry out from looking at screens. Never thought I would say those words in my house because I am very strict. I am also very tired, and it has happened. They are addicted to screens – video games, you tube, movies, etc..

With this realization I panicked, as I often do, for fear I was failing as a mother, and in my most pathetic voice I tried to yell, “Hey kids come here!” That didn’t work and caused me great pain. Sometimes I am an idiot. My daughter, Charlotte, was sitting in a chair across from me in the living room. She was keeping a vigilant eye on me because she is precious and she wanted to borrow my Mac. Nine year olds know what a Mac is nowadays. Thankfully she was digging for worms an hour before, so I am okay with it.

I asked her to kindly go find her three siblings so mommy won’t have to use her voice. She happily did so. I did a horrifying thing. I asked them all to not use screens/devices for a few hours. After giving them some time to get over the shock, I gave obvious suggestions – read a book, write a story, draw, get creative like you all used to do! My 15 year old son seriously said, ” I should get back into reading. Haven’t done that in a long time.” What?? Who gets back into reading? When did you get out of it? Was there a how to stop reading program a wasn’t privy to?

Yes, this is partially my fault. I am a busy single mom with four active children in my home. Most evenings I feel like a champion if all of their homework is done and I made a hot dinner rather than a drive – through. After that, once the kitchen is clean and jammies are on, (as in mine), I just want to crawl into bed. It’ll all start again at 6am. So, as much as I dream of assigning my children extra reading, it doesn’t happen. It is all too easy to say “yes” when someone wants to watch a movie or play a video game, if it means I will have 30 minutes of solitude before I have to get some sleep.  Still….hearing my son say he’d given up reading, as though he were a recovering reader, was a bit startling.

Turns out this was a great conversation sparker. Luke began suggesting books he had read, that he thought his younger brother James would like. You know – books from back in the day, before he got out of all that reading stuff.

They all went on their merry way to find some books, or call friends, I’m not really sure. I had to get some sleep and stop coughing, so I took DayQuil and happily dozed off. As per the norm, I was awakened with a loud whispering…”Hey mom.” Why do they whisper loudly? They know they are waking me up. Anyway…imagine my horror to see this standing above me…..

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This was it. I’d done it. I messed up my children with divorce, homeschooling, who knows what – and my son was now going to murder me. Was the mask necessary for that though?

My sweet 13 year old son was behind that horrid mask asking, “Hey mom, can you snap a pic? I need to see if the eyes are in the right spot.” Good God, first bring me an aspirin to slow down the heart attack you just gave me. What on earth??

Ummm well….okay dear, please tell me what you are trying to be? I hope it is Spider Man and not some sort of bright red villain planning to take hostages?? Really, it’s so creepy I shrunk the pic a bit so you all wouldn’t get a large, in your face view of my sweet angel.

Apparently James chose the get creative suggestion. Thanks for listening honey! Wow.

Now Charlotte, my precious 9 year old, also got creative, (also chose to wake me), and came up with this. So cute! Let’s face it, mothers of my age all get excited when we see our children get a little “retro.”

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Her brother had an old box from a retro game I had given him, so she used that. I thought it was adorable. She showed me every nook and cranny of it, as I coughed my lungs out, laying on the couch. She didn’t mind.

And so the moral of the story is….scary as it may be to tell our children to put the screens away, it worked out pretty well! (minus the nightmare mask) Oh and also the two older children – to this day I don’t know what they did during their duration of unpluggedness. Some things are better left unknown.

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