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Gail Silver: Blog

Wire free—Worry free

Posted on September 15, 2014 with 0 comments

 

Written July 2014, one week into our wireless summer. Posted September 2014.  
We didn’t hole up in a cabin on green acres, but we did the next best thing, and while I knew it was a necessary withholding, I had no real way of knowing how far reaching its effect would be.   For the six weeks that I would be in-house with three kids (8, 12 and 14) I proposed (okay, required) that there would be no computer, computer games or video games during the daytime hours. After dinner, (which in the summer is unreasonably late in our home) each child would be permitted an allotted amount of screen time based upon what would be appropriate for his or her age. The exception to the rule is that they are permitted to use the computer for creative outlets, such as writing or videography. They would also be permitted to email and text their friends, which they don’t do very often anyway.  My thoughts on this are that socialization is important and I don’t want to disrupt their budding friendships. After all, I’m not (contrary to what they think) trying to ruin their summer, but am just a mother trying to enable the brain activity of her children to hover above flat line, while maintaining a peaceful home where she can get the smallest bit of work done. 
The first three days were filled with complaints, foot stomps and arguments (some quite admirable) as to why my idea was not “good for them.” 
I listened, but remained firm, and one week in I feel as if I have been born into another household. I may keep this rule in place until they are all twenty-one. I always knew that the computer, the video games, and various other vices were a source of some of the conflict in our home, but I don’t think I realized the extent of their hold on my children’s moods and wellbeing until laying these new bylaws on the land that I now enjoy calling home. 
My daughters, who on an average day, would be first in line to throw the other in front of a Septa Bus, have been playing and working cooperatively with each other… for days! The eight year-old has been helping the twelve year-old clean her room since Sunday (it’s Tuesday). In exchange the twelve year-old gave the eight year old a make over. This I learned when the eight year-old rounded the turn on the stairs revealing her face, cherubic and orange hued. Despite feeling the littlest bit of triumph that my girls were engaging in cooperative play, my own face turned a less than complimentary shade of something not too distant from orange-hued. 
Plunked into the bathtub, the eight year-old received her first at-home facial. She enjoyed having her mother clean her face so thoroughly. It’s possible that it may have been the first time I have actually done so. 
The twelve year-old also gave the eight year-old all of her outgrown clothes, pajamas and other crap, a job usually left to me. Weed through clothes—Check. Last night at dinner the eight year-old readily traded seats with her sister and she didn’t even ask for anything in return. I also saw them share desserts. It was quick, and admittedly, I had had a glass of wine, but I don’t think it was the wine because my husband saw it too:  The twelve year old licked the eight year-olds cheesecake pop and then allowed the eight year-old to lick her ice cream cone. This is a tween whose scream normally rivals that of Carrie’s on prom night whenever her sister does anything to cause her germs to enter the biosphere (i.e., sneeze without covering her mouth, cough, breathe heavily). 
As I write, the Silver sisters are downstairs co-creating a dance musical. The twelve year-old is teaching the eight year-old how to sing, not an easy feat since the eight year-old has my singing voice. I keep hearing the big one give the little one words of encouragement—“that’s good, but try it higher,” “Okay, a little softer now…” 
I am walking around in circles, stunned and elated. I feel as if I am living in someone else’s house, in someone else’s world. What’s even better though, is that I know they can feel it too. 
  Maybe this is all a big joke my family is playing on me in light of my forthcoming book, Peace, Bugs and Understanding wherein two sisters learn sibling harmony through the practice of Metta.  Up until now, I had been worried that if someone walked by my house and heard my children screaming at each other that nobody would buy my books. Rest assured, they really do love each other. They are having fun together, for long periods of time. Come on, Septa, we’re ready for you.
As for the 14 year-old boy, he’s still grumpy.

Written July 2014, one week into our wireless summer. Posted September 2014.  

We didn’t hole up in a cabin on green acres, but we did the next best thing, and while I knew it was a necessary withholding, I had no real way of knowing how far reaching its effect would be.   For the six weeks that I would be in-house with three kids (8, 12 and 14) I proposed (okay, required) that there would be no computer, computer games or video games during the daytime hours. After dinner, (which in the summer is unreasonably late in our home) each child would be permitted an allotted amount of screen time based upon what would be appropriate for his or her age. The exception to this regulation is that this summer unlike summer's prior, I am actually enforcing it and that they are permitted to use the computer for creative outlets, such as writing or videography. They would also be permitted to email and text their friends, which they don’t do very often anyway.  My thoughts on this are that socialization is important and I don’t want to disrupt their established or their budding friendships. 

After all, I’m not (contrary to what they think) trying to ruin their summer,
but am just a mother trying to encourage the brain activity of her children
to remain above flat line, while maintaining a peaceful home
where she can get the smallest bit of work done.
 

The first three days were filled with complaints, foot stomps and arguments (some quite admirable) as to why my idea was not “good for them.” 


I listened, but remained firm, and one week in I feel as if I have been born into another household. I may keep this rule in place until they are all twenty-one. I always knew that the computer, the video games, and various other vices were a source of some of the conflict in our home, but I don’t think I allowed myself to appreciate the extent of their hold on my children’s moods and wellbeing until these new laws were laid upon the land that I now enjoy calling home.

 
My daughters, who on an average day, would be first in line to throw the other in front of a Septa Bus, have been playing and working cooperatively with each other… for days! The eight year-old has been helping the twelve year-old clean her room since Sunday (it’s Tuesday). In exchange the twelve year-old gave the eight year-old a make over. This I learned when the eight year-old rounded the turn on the stairs revealing her face, cherubic and orange- hued. Despite feeling the littlest bit of triumph that my girls were engaging in cooperative play, my own face turned a less than complimentary shade of something not too distant from orange-hued. Plunked into the bathtub, the eight year-old received her first at-home facial. She enjoyed having her mother clean her face so thoroughly. It’s possible that it may have been the first time I have actually done so. 


The twelve year-old also gave the eight year-old all of her outgrown clothes, pajamas and other crap, a job usually left to me. Weed through clothes—Check. Last night at dinner the eight year-old readily traded seats with her sister and she didn’t even ask for anything in return. I also saw them share desserts. It was quick, and admittedly, I had had a glass of wine, but I don’t think it was the wine because my husband saw it too:  The twelve year old licked the eight year-olds cheesecake pop and then allowed the eight year-old to lick her ice cream cone. This is a tween whose scream normally rivals that of Carrie’s on prom night whenever her younger sister does anything that might remotely cause her germs to enter the biosphere (i.e., sneeze without covering her mouth, cough, breathe heavily). 


As I write, the Silver sisters are downstairs co-creating a dance musical. The twelve year-old is teaching the eight year-old how to sing, not an easy feat since the eight year-old has my singing voice. I keep hearing the big one give the little one words of encouragement—“that’s good, but try it higher,” “Okay, a little softer now…” 


I am walking around in circles, stunned and elated. I feel as if I am living in someone else’s house, in someone else’s world. What’s even better though, is that I know they can feel it too. 

 

9781937006631.jpg


  Maybe this is all a big joke my family is playing on me in light of my forthcoming book, Peace, Bugs and Understanding, wherein two sisters learn sibling harmony through the practice of Metta.  Up until now, I had been worried that if someone walked by my house and heard my children screaming at each other that nobody would buy my books. Rest assured, they really do love each other. They are having fun together, for long periods of time. Come on, Septa, we’re ready for you.

 As for the 14 year-old boy, he’s still grumpy.