Monday, October 5, 2009

World Record

The Matron will admit to tearing up, smiling a little and flat-out cracking up the first THREE TIMES she watched this movie.

Three. Four. Five. Six.

You see, Scarlett and Merrick both have what the family doctor - consulted over the phone -- says is most likely the H1N1 flu. Scarlett fell ill on Thursday; Merrick came home sick from a birthday party on Saturday.

The symptoms?

Fever, head ache, eyes hurt, cough. The basics. Scarlett appears on the mend but she will miss at least three rehearsals of Annie, which causes her great additional physical pain.

However, while convalescing, Scarlett happened upon a particularly brilliant plan: set the world record for watching Elf. So that damn movie has been going through a permanent loop.

This from the family who brought you The Simpsonathon. New readers will definitely want to check out that link for some high-end parenting tips.

All this mind-numbing screen time brings her to another question. First, let's set side the flu. Sickness, in the Matron's own childhood, was a precious condition precisely because endless TV was possible. Endless TV was always ALLOWED in her childhood but, given that whole problematic school and band and theater and speech situation, endless TV was only POSSIBLE when one was ill.

But on a normal day, like a Monday after school when there''s just an hour of homework and no good book -- how much screen time is enough? How much, how much! Now, the Matron is NOT allowed to blog about her oldest but suffice it to say that the amount of time one should spend at the computer is a hotly contested topic in these environs.

The Matron knows what David Walsh says. But what's the reality in family life? Could Walsh be wrong? The Matron herself quite literally lives online: she teaches, blogs, socializes and shops. If the center of adult life has shifted to something electronic, why not teens too? Maybe the soapbox Walsh is standing on is floating away, far far away, lost in time.

Here's another thing. The Matron thinks that people tend to be a little ingenuous about how much time their children spend plugged in. On the one hand, she hears statistics like children spend four after school hours watching TV. But everyone she knows?

"Oh, we have a strict one hour policy."

"No TV on weeknights, ever!"

"We allow one hour after homework is done."

A friend of hers summed it up best: "Everyone lies about sex--and about how much time their kid spends plugged into computer or TV."

Help her! How do you help a teenager unplug? Should he?!


Suburban Correspondent said...

You drive - shouldn't he? You're married - shouldn't he be?

Those silly questions are just a rhetorical device used to point out the obvious - what is okay for parents is not always okay for children. Also? It is your computer. Whatever you decide, it is what you decide; not what your son nags you into, what your son thinks is good for him, etc.

Believe me, from someone who used to be an avid reader - when the siren call of the screen beckons, no book is good enough.

We treat Facebook (and its ilk) like electronic gold around here - if your kids are going to have it, make sure they pay dearly. Because they are willing to, you know. Don't just give it away! There are lawns to be mowed, dishes washed, laundry folded, items lying on the floor for weeks on end waiting to be picked up...I'm sure you get the idea here.

A corollary to your theory - no parent is fully aware of just how much crap is going on during computer time. It's not that healthy, really. I wish that we had never allowed it. But now that we do, at least I have a clean house to show for it.

smalltownmom said...

I'll be completely honest. The tv goes on when he gets home and doesn't go off until he goes to bed. Of course, during this time he is doing homework, practicing piano, eating dinner, playing videogames, using the it's often just background noise. But he's a good student. If I thought it was interfering, I'd be more vigilant about turning it off.

Suburban Correspondent said...

The tone of the above comment is meant to be encouraging and jovial; I'm afraid it came across as stern and censorious. I'm having a spectacularly bad day here.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am of the opinion that as long as all the musts are done first: homework, chores, sports and bedtime is very reasonable (9 p.m. is what we had when our kids were the son you're not blogging about's age) then that leaves a reasonable amount of time for Facebook and online games.

We have always had the rule of no computers for an hour before bedtime because it gets your brain too jazzed up to sleep--that's a perfect time for (gasp) books.

Beth Dunn said...

Ummm. I was frankly ecstatic when my 3 year old finally started wathching tv--it only took my first son til he as 19 months. I make it a policy never to listen to anyone but my own motherly instincts. They seem fine to me--no one is in jail yet!

Daisy said...

I like Elf except for one issue: Buddy's pronunciation of "Santa." It has a T in it, darn it. A little crisp consonant work would really help.

blognut said...

Meh. I think you have to weigh this issue carefully. If you kick a teenager off the computer, and limit the amount of time spent watching TV, the darn kid might start talking to you. And who wants that? :)

Minnesota Matron said...

Suburban and Smalltown: thank you! This is exactly the kind of conversation I need. My house should be cleaner, SC!

Hay said...

Wishing those beautiful peeps a quick recovery.

I won't talk about the computer issue, you know me Matron. I'm the one who let my three paint the washing machine and dryer red today, because when they asked, I couldn't think of a valid reason why they shouldn't...

~annie said...

Leave him alone. At least you know where he is! Seriously, though: You are the mom, you are in charge. You know best what's good for him, if he's done what he needs to do, if he's getting enough sleep, etc. You are the boss.

Mary Alice said...

As long as the homework is done, chores finished, and they go to bed by the appointed time, I don't really care. That said, my kids are so busy with sports and homework after school that there really isn't much time left to spend in front of any screen. Oh, plus the dinner hour is spent as a family with no TV at that cuts into happy vegging out time as well.

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks, everyone! Smalltownmom, I know what you mean about feeling like it's all okay because the kid is such a good student. Reading these comments let me see we're pretty typical. There are required chores, homework, etc. Jenn- we do the same - no screen one hour before bedtime, which is 9:30 here. I think the late night screens really suck kids in. We have a two hour limit that we're not very good about enforcing -- two hours a day of television ,facebook, games, etc. combined. It's the enforcing piece that's tough. At least for me!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

This too shall run its course--I hope your family feels better soon. That is a good movie to set a record for watching repeatedly.

FlourGirl said...

At our house, since both the hubbs and I work, the kids' computer time is limited to before 5:30 pm and after all homework & chores are done.

What? You had basketball practice until 4:30? Too bad!

What? You CHOSE to hang out with friends and now want to be on the computer after dinner? Too bad!

Of course, if neither of us are online, we allow them to be on the computer. Our feeling is that if we're out working to pay for the computer/cell phone/internet/cable, then when we are home we get first dibs.

I totally agree with Suburban about making sure the kids "pay" for the extras.