A war is being raged in this house and I SHALL BE THE VICTOR!
Sure, it’s been attacking my morale, calling me to question my whole approach to parenting, undermining my confidence and lulling me into false hope with occasional ceasefires but I WILL NOT SURRENDER.
This battle happened with the stealth-like characteristics just like most battles do. A squirmish here, a negotiation there until whoomf all hell breaks loose.
On the one side is me.
On the other is a burly conglomerate of electronic devices, gaming consoles and computing devices resorting to the dirty tactics of recruiting my children in to do their tawdry work.
Since the beginning of this year there’s been the no television at night rule. Primarily because I couldn’t take the clanging of cymbals it resembled in my head but also because homework is now a serious deal for some and silence – or the illusion of such – is growing in importance.
For as long as I can remember there has been a blanket no console games (xBox, Playstation, Wii) during the week.
Technically there has been a no-technology (ie computer) after 7pm rule as well but that has been tricky to police as I try to clean up from dinner and deal with all the other stuff raising 100 children involves.
But the console and computer games saw this weakness and have been slowly creeping over these battlelines for several months, occasionally moreÂ aggressivelyÂ through the form of tantrums and fighting and more subversively through good behaviour and reward systems.
The casualties of this war have – as can now be seen with the benefit of hindsight – sibling infighting, poor communication between comrades and combatants, lowered tolerance, disappearance of empathy and the rise of the Reactive Parenting Technique*, aka yelling. A lot.
The situation reached such a point I was daydreaming of just walking out of the house – many times – over the course of a weekend. IÂ was miserable. The boys behaviour to each other and to me (and Chef and Grandmama) was appalling.
So I tasered them. Metaphorically of course. There’s no way I’m going to prison for this lot.
No, this was my taser: THAT IS IT. NO XBOX, NO PLAYSTATION, NO WII. AT ALL. INDEFINITELY. THAT MEANS UNTIL I SAY SO.
(It annoys me how you have to explain yourself while yelling – it’s like slamming the soft-close drawer.)
I knew they knew I was serious by the complete lack of response. This is also known as “shock”.
Of course, they found a loophole and moved their frontline to the computer to satiate their need forÂ mindless bright colours moving across the screen with some awful muzak. I conceded this ground until last Saturday morning when Jasper reacted with the equivalent verocity as you would if you’d have a limb ripped from your body by a speeding car.
This time the assault went something like this: THAT IS IT – THE COMPUTER IS NOW ADDED TO THE BAN!
Shock AND Awe boys, shock and awe.
And then something happening. I think it was because all bets were off, all cards were on the table, there was no room for negotiation, no trade-offs, it was a total, complete fullstop.
They didn’t ask for it. They just got on with …Â living.
Within 24 hours there was play, sibling jibes taken with good humour, GAMES and all the rest.
With each passing day the peace becomes more assured. Bouyant even.
I would say that the past two afternoon-evenings are pretty close to my idea of perfect.
I am not shitting you. The results have been nothing if not breath-taking.
But I know this won’t last. As this becomes the new normal something will creep back in or something will step up and suddenly I’ll be having to re-evaluate all over again.
I know a blanket ban on these things is not sustainable. For these guys computers, console games and some form of connectivity is as much part and parcel of their day as matchbox cars, barbie, wendy walker, scalextric and strawberry shortcake were for us.
So where to?
1. I’m going to ride this baby for as long as I can
2. We’re reigniting Team BerryÂ and as part of that bringing in a weekly family meeting. The idea behind that is regaining control and giving the boys a heads up on what is expected of them. So we’re going to look at what is happening during the week for each of us and then discuss which Family Value we’re going to work on that week.Â Remember our Family Values?:
THEN we let them know the consequences if that Family Value is not adhered to, the first punishment being something like no dessert/ice cream, the second having far more gravitas (so IF using rights are reinstated for the console games on the weekends they will lose that).
So there you have it. I tell you, this parenting gig is a rollercoaster and a half. Just when you think you’ve nutted it out aWHOOSHka it all goes to hell in a handbasket and you have to re-evaluate everything you’re doing.
I’ve been really buffeted by the last few weeks and was at quite the ebb over it.
But here we are, a new strategy at the fore.
* The Reactive Parenting Technique is that perfected by our parents’ generation – you know:
Parent: put that down
Parent: I asked you to put that down
Child: NO I DON’T WANT TO
Parent: GILBERT I asked you to put that down. PUT IT DOWN NOW.
Child: YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!
Parent: *SMACK* DON’T YOU DARE TALK TO ME LIKE THAT. GO TO YOUR ROOM
CHILD: Â NO! I HATE YOU.
… and so on and so forth.