Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I know follow through is always important in tennis, but I had no idea how much it meant in parenting. Until now, just now when my youngest, the 12-year-old, said "I don't care!" That was in response to my decision that he was banned from screen time tonight. Screen time is, of course, anything that involves a screen -- the computer, the television, the Wii.
Once upon a time, when we were homeschoolers, and I kept track of these things, each child was allowed one hour of screen time everyday. Now that the kids are in school and I work too many hours, along with cooking, cleaning and computing the other hours, the kids are really free to overindulge all they want. Complicating things, the boys have a bedroom in the basement, right next to the family room which contains, you guessed it, a computer, a television and the Wii. The laundry room is down there too, but I rarely catch them surreptitiously washing clothes.
So the most recent fight with the 12-year-old came because of the way he was speaking to me. The tone -- isn't it always about the tone -- came when I asked him whether the math teacher considered 2 a perfect square. He's memorizing perfect square numbers.
"I don't know!" he said, in that tone.
"Well, how are you going to find out?"
"I don't know!" he said again. Same tone.
"That's it. I'm requesting a meeting with her."
"Wait! Why?" he asked, his voice rising.
"Because you don't know the answer and you don't know how to find out the answer."
He pulled out a piece of paper.
"It's on here. No, 2 doesn't count so you can stop YELLING at me!"
But now, it's not about what he knows or doesn't know, it's all about that TONE.
So, I parried with, "Until you can learn to speak nicely to me, no screen time."
That's when he slipped in the classic, "I don't care."
And, I do know why he doesn't care. It's because he knows I have no follow through. He has a paper to type, so I'll let him type it. Then he'll pull out his guitar and start looking up songs on YouTube, learning which chords go with "Nowhere Man." And I'll think, "Well, that's kind of educational." So I won't stop him. I won't call down to the basement. "Hey, no screen time for you."
I know this is a slippery slope. But he's my third. The other two have turned out very well. Two out of three, ain't bad, as the song goes.
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