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Why I let my kids crack out on video games

Twenty-three. That is the record for the most times I have said “It’s not TV time yet!” in under 30 minutes. It’s like my kids think if they keep saying the same thing over and over again, eventually they will wear me down and I’ll let them crack out in front of the boob-tube all day long every day. I’ve had 6 years to build up an immunity to childhood sneakiness, though. I’m not that easily broken!

I’m willing to admit that I am a bit of a couch potato, and I won’t even blame my chronic couchpain for it. I just love TV. There’s a lot of good TV on, and I hate missing it. I’ve earned my spot on the couch, though. I spent years playing outside until the sun went down, rain or shine. I didn’t have access to the internet (not until I was about 11), or a tablet, or a cell phone with all the games a kid could ever dream up with just the press of a spot on a screen. Sure, eventually my brother and I had a Nintendo, and after a year of saving my allowance, a Gameboy- but my most used toys were my imagination and the great outdoors.

Yes, times have changed. Maybe it’s less safe out there, maybe the technology has grown so great that we all have a hard time pulling ourselves away from it, or maybe we’re all just a bunch of lazy schlubs who would rather zonk out staring at a screen than doing something productive, and I realize my kids can’t have the EXACT same childhood as me so I’ve adapted accordingly- but I don’t want them to become screen junkies.

It’s totally possible that I’ll never be comfortable enough to kick them out the front door and tell them not to come back until dinner- but I want them to have FULL lives. Ones lived themselves, not watching others live it. I want to enrich them! I want them to go on adventures! I want them to love the arts, and music, and to learn through experience and not by just reading it in a book (although reading is awesome). I want EVERYTHING for them, but… most days, I would just settle for them getting along enough to do any ONE of those things. Sad but true.

At just 2 years and 2 weeks apart, they are the perfect age to either be the best of friends, or sworn enemies. At 6 and 4, they are usually sworn enemies. Holden just read this sentence over my shoulder and confirmed it. Enemies. They fight almost NON-STOP, and over nothing! At least when I was tattling on my brother, it’s because he sat on my face and farted, or pulled my hair, or punched the crap out of me. These kids tattle on each other for singing. Or saying their name. Or looking at them. Or trying to play with them.

old2Really? You’re whining because your brother wants to play with you? REALLY??? I can’t make sense of it, but I suppose I don’t have to. I just have to deal with it.
Very rarely do my two boys get along; I had SO hoped they would grow up fighting less than my brother and me, but that seems to be one of those rainbows, bubblegum, and unicorn fart dreams we parents tend to have before we’re kept up for 7 hours every night by a screaming baby.

Because I can’t kick them out the front door and expect them to play nicely, not get hurt, or not hurt each other- that means their whining, complaining, and fighting is contained inside (if it’s not nice enough to go out with them) where it threatens to make me snap. Strict on screens me can’t wait until the designated TV time just to make them both shut up. JUST STOP FIGHTING FOR FIVE DAMN MINUTES, IS THAT REALLY SO HARD? YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE IF HE SINGS A SONG WITH YOUR NAME IN IT!

I’ve tried to play board games with them, but they usually cheat and then start fighting. I try to get them to read together, but it always ends in on complaining that they can’t see, and the other one biting or hitting or pushing or saying “you’re not my brother anymore!” Where do they get this shit??

One day, out of boredom, I downloaded a new game to my phone. When the boys caught me playing it, they were enthralled. It’s not a game for kids, but for some reason, they couldn’t stop watching me play, asking me to play so they could watch, asking if they could have a turn. It definitely didn’t help when Thomas downloaded the game to his phone, too. Strict with screens me let them download it to an out of service phone we had lying around, but they could only play after finishing dinner, and I would turn it off when they started cracking out on it- and then the snow came down. Being that we live in the south, snow means we are going to be stranded at home, no school, no freedom- until it melts.
I held out the best that I could, but after days upon days of the nonstop whining and tattling and telling and time outs, when Holden asked if he could play “just for a little while!”- I caved.

Ten minutes later, I realized there hadn’t been a single bit of fighting. No complaining, no tattling, no yelling, no screeching, no nothing. I went to see if perhaps they had both self-destructed, and there they were- quietly sitting on the floor together, playing the game and talking strategy. They weren’t trying to tear it out of each other’s hands, or throwing it so the other couldn’t play with it, or tattling to mommy because the other wasn’t taking turns. They were playing together. Happily. If it weren’t for all the eye makeup I wear, I would have rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing correctly.

I can’t stand my kids cracking out on video games; they’ve never played with a playstation or any game system of any kind, they don’t have a DS or the newest gaming whoseit or whatsit- but this time, I am making an exception.

Am I selling myself out? Being a push over? Heck no. My kids are bonding! Maybe this time it’s cracking out over a stupid game, and I’m sure other things will come along that I don’t exactly love, but if for once they’re cracking out TOGETHER? That is definitely something worth being pushed over for. The fact that it un-wedges them from my ass and keeps them from whining for a prolonged period of time is just a fringe benefit.

**random side note: We do have educational “video” games, and I think those are great in moderation. This was NOT an educational game, hence my initial apprehension.
Posted on January 27, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment
Holdin' Holden

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    I have my son who’s 2.5 who’s ecstatic when his brother comes home from school. The oldest is 7 and always wants a quiet time so when I say you can play a Game on the iPad with your brother it wins the battle. I get dinner prepped, lunches made for the next day, and a load or 2 of laundry folded. All within an hour of peace and cooperation from us all. Winning Momma right here.

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