Parenting is hard (to any parent, I am stating the obvious). Much harder than most people imagine, before they are up to their eyeballs in it. With work, and exercise, and keeping a (reasonably) sane house, and pets, and maintaining some friendships and yada yada yada, being “The Good Enough Mother” (or father) is elusive. Research says we’ve given up on being “The Perfect Mother”, thank God; it’s now evidently considered enough to be “The Good Enough Mother.” Yet, even that seems like a high bar many days.
My son is five, and now, we have a new-ish challenge. This year, 2010, he truly discovered THE GAME. The computer game (Lego Harry Potter), the iPad game (Lego Harry Potter), the iPhone app (Harry Potter Spells) and now, thanks to Santa, the Wii game (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is too hard, so Lego Indiana Jones). He also writes his own code for Harry Potter games he is inventing, but that’s another story altogether. And already, he’s gone from a kid who uttered “outside” as one of his first few words to a kid who whines incessantly about turning the game off and going outside.
Just this morning, an unusually warm day for December 31, we told him he could not play any games until we all took the dogs for a nice long walk to the park. The excuses came spewing forth immediately: “Can’t Dad just do it?” “I don’t like walks.” “I’m tired.” Halfway to the park: “Can we go home now?” “I’m tired.” Translation: I just want to go home and play the Wii. We continue the forced march to the park, and get on a swing. And, wait. What’s this? Who is this child hollering “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” and “THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!!!” Happy kid, happy dogs, happy parents. For a little while.
But then we get home. And I’m the one whining about being tired, and having a headache, (all quite true) and taking him for a bike ride later instead of now. And somehow The Good Enough Mother has gone AWOL. And, as I sit in bed planning menus for the holiday weekend with my 87-year-old father and writing this, what’s he doing? Playing the Wii.
Yes, yes, no one is perfect and no one has energy all the time. And even I have to admit that I’m not, generally, a slacker parent. When I get home from work typically around 6:30PM, we do art projects and science experiments, when we can. Or we read Harry Potter books. Or, if my energy fails completely, we watch Harry Potter movies and snuggle off to sleep. Now, we might play Wii bowling when I get home, my personal favorite because it’s the only one I don’t completely suck at. On top of the many other resolutions for 2011 (More laughter, less drama; Lose the same 10 pounds I lose every Spring; Write more.) I’ve got one more to add here and it’s NOT getting better at video games.
I like games as much as the next person (though I am a hold out against Angry Birds because I don’t need another addiction). To me, it comes down to this. Compare the vacant stare in a kid’s eyes when they are playing a video game, regardless of platform (Helloooo? Junior? I’m talking to you.) to the light in a child’s eyes when they are fully engaged IRL. There. Is. No. Comparison.
Therefore, I believe we have an important resolution to make for our children: Less Wii, and more “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Let’s go into 2011 with that top of mind.
Do you agree? Can you relate? Do you have similar challenges with your little people?