Screen withdrawal

Both of my sons found themselves in hot water this week.  I knew it was something a little out of the ordinary when I received a text message followed by a vitriolic email from my lovely wife.  She vents best using her typing fingers.

"What do you think an appropriate punishment would be?" she asked.

After a long stressful day at work, nothing came to my mind.

"Let me think on that and get back to you," I said.

By the time I made it home her mind was pretty much set on no screen time for a week: no computer, no television, no iTouch, no GameCube, no Xbox.

We sat down at the kitchen table for the family conference to discuss the things that had happened and the ground rules for the days ahead.  Actually, both Dylan and Ben were resigned to their fates by this point, the shock and dismay came several hours earlier when Heather blew her top.

Ben is adept at entertaining himself as he's the creative type.  His craft centre - my desk that was built for me by Lawrence Leavens back in 1984 - is an impressive sight with papers, scissors, paints, brushes and all the accoutrements of an artist.


Dylan on the other hand is the social type. If he's not surrounded by people, he has no idea how to entertain himself without being attached to a game-controller or keypad.  As he sat on the sofa toward the end of the first full day of digital abstinence, tears rolled down his cheek dousing the bottom half of the page of the book he was trying to read.  Disconsolate, desperate, dismayed, he didn't know how he would make it through seven days; he couldn't even handle one.

We had a great discussion about addiction, and how he had become dependent on the electronic gadgets that pepper our lives.  His eyes lit up as he began to see that this horrible punishment was actually a personal wake-up call.

It was a welcome distraction to go to the protest turned party at Keyano College yesterday evening.  Tomorrow we will go to the Wood Buffalo Regional Science Fair. Meanwhile, I've acquiesced and allowed them a slight reprieve for tonight.  In truth, I need a break from trying to keep them occupied.  In some messed up way, giving them back their screen time, if only for an hour or two, is a welcome relief.

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