This was a long weekend. Ian left school early on Wednesday for a dentist appointment, and then there were two days of parent-teacher conferences before the three-day weekend. So, yes, that adds up to 5 1/2 days off. And we had nothing big planned as distractions, just mostly work and working on the house. That is a LONG time. And my kids are at the age where they fight over EVERYTHING, especially what tv show they are going to watch. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Ian: Josie, wouldn't you like to watch Spongebob?
Josie: Yes! But I'm watching Max and Ruby.
Ian: Okay, let's put on Spongebob!
Josie: MAX AND RUBY!
Ian: MOM!!!! JOSIEBLAHBLAHBLAH!!!! ZEKESTOPIT!!! (our kitten, Zeke, likes to attack Ian at the slightest provocation. It crops up into almost every conversation.)
And so it goes.
So Friday, while we were having dinner, it happened. I'm not sure exactly why, or how. It just did. Perhaps I had just noticed how nicely everyone was eating, and mostly the same things (as opposed to the typical dinner that has added servings of cheese sticks and applesauce for the kids). Perhaps I was thinking that we were going to all be home for several days together, and wouldn't it be lovely if we did things together, like the families in the magazines? Maybe we could bake bread. or do a puzzle. I had a lot of things to do on the house. All of those things, I'm sure, were floating around in my head. And then I said it.
Me: Hey guys, I wanted to tell you about this weekend. We are going to have a no-screen weekend! It's going to be great! No tv, no computers, just doing fun stuff!
Scott looked at me funny, and only later did I realize he was thinking about the Redskins. But he didn't say a word, the sweetie pie.
Ian: So can we play games?? I have a bunch of games we can play!
Ian: Cool! Wait a minute, you said I could watch tv after dinner.
Me: Um, yeah, but just one hour, and then it's bedtime.
Ian: Okay. Cool!
Josie: I want a cheese stick!
Scott: You all got that, right? No tv at all, no computers?
Ian: Yes already! Geesh.
I posted it on Facebook (yes, I began my no-screen weekend by posting it online - the irony of which was posted out to me by several people.) and everyone seemed, well, less-than-confident that we could pull it off. So I turned off the computer. (I hadn't done that since the last electrical storm - it felt very strange to do it without the threat of lightning frying my electronics.)
We woke up Saturday with no ipod music playing, no alarms (accidentally - I left my cellphone in my purse), and no fighting from downstairs. Very few sounds at all, actually. The kids got something to eat and then were playing. Josie played in her room, then in the basement. Ian played outside, then read. We did our regular routine, but without the breaks of sitting in front of the tv or the computer.
Ian asked several times if he could watch something, but once we reminded him, he was fine. Josie was a little more persistant. She didn't quite seem to grasp that "no tv" meant, gasp, "NO tv". She tried arguing for different shows.
"I need to watch Maisy!"
"No, you don't."
"But Max and Ruby? Pleasssseeeeee?"
"No." "Spongebob? My brother likes Spongebob!"
"The princess movie on the ipod? That's not tv." (good argument for a 3 1/2 year old, but still,) "No."
Eventually she would storm off. (I hid the remote, and none of us know how to change channels without it. So that's about all she could do.)
We got a lot done. I got more work done on the house and garden than I had in a month of Sunday's. It was great! When I was installing the shelves, the boards were too long, but only by about 1/2 inch. So I got out the circular saw that a friend lent me but that I've been too chicken to try and use (hey, you could lose a finger on that thing!), and cut my boards. I was so proud of myself! They fit! I hung shelves. I put doors on cabinets. We rearranged furniture. And this was just on Saturday. It was great. I basically wandered around the house looking for things to attack with the drill and hammer. I loved it.
By Sunday, though, it was really starting to get to the kids. Ian was done with what he was terming "the experiment". (I had told him that I wanted to see if they got along better with no screentime, and Boy Howdy, did they. They played with each other, nicely! They would disappear into the Basement Of Lost Toys for hours. It was wonderful.)
But eventually (and by "eventually" I mean, "almost immediately") even the best of kids want their routine. Ian told me that his friend came over but went home because our house was boring. Then he refused to come outside, and just sat in my office. I could see him through the window while Scott and I were outside building a raised garden bed from leftover patio stones. I mostly directed, from the swingset where Josie and I were swinging. (Why aren't grownups supposed to swing, anyway? I LOVE swinging. I hate pushing, but man, I still love being on the swings.) We would ask Ian to come out, to play with us, to help with the garden, to play with the dog, but, no, no, no, he just didn't want to. He was having a horrible weekend and we ruined all his fun by not letting him have any screentime, which is the MOST fun in the world and he was done, just DONE with this experiment. So there!
Enh. Whatever. I had a swing and a garden bed that was practically building itself, just waiting for me to take credit for it. ("Why, yes, it IS a lovely garden! We worked so hard putting it together! Oh, sure, Scott helped some." Yes, I would totally do that.)
When we were done in the back, we wandered around to the front, and puttered around a bit there. I'm planning on turning much of my lawn into gardens, and we needed to sit on the patio chairs and talk about it for a bit, while Josie ran around barefoot in the yard, picking dandelions. It was really nice, actually.
The door opened and Ian walked down the steps, carrying his little orange suitcase stuffed full of stuffed animals and clothes.
"You going somewhere?" I asked.
"I'm leaving! I left you a note in your office and you can read it if you care about where I'm going to be!"
"That's MY SUITCASE!!!!" (Josie, of course)
"Is this about the 'no screentime' thing?" asked Scott.
"Yes! You ruined my fun and you're ruining my life and I'm going to find a new family where they let me watch tv when I want!"
"Okay, well, see ya!" I said. This wasn't the first time he threatened to run away. But my usual response had been to tell him how terribly lonely that we'd be without him and that I would miss him so much and blah blah blah. But seriously. Over tv? And we were having such a lovely time.
He took a deep breath. "Goodbye!!" And he walked down the front steps slowly. He looked back a couple times. By the time he was to the driveway, Josie had burst into tears.
"I want my brother to live at our house!!"
"I know, sweetie, I do, too. Maybe if you went to tell him that..."
Ian was halfway past the neighbor's house.
Josie started down the steps. (Scott and I were still sitting quite comfortably in our chairs - no need to get up for this drama.)
I looked over at Ian. He has stopped. He turned and looked at us, then he started sobbing. He ran back.
"I can't believe I lost my mind! I can't believe I was going to lose my family!" He flew into Scott's arms, and Scott began consoling him.
"It's okay, you came back, that's all that matters."
Josie had come back up the stairs. She picked up Ian's suitcase. "Here you go, Ian!"
I was so relieved. I was worried we were going to have to tail him around the block until he came back.
"Can I watch tv now?" Ian looked so hopeful.
"Dude! No! We're NOT WATCHING TV tonight!" Geesh. Ya gotta give him credit for trying.
The rest of the evening was actually fairly uneventful. The kids went to bed. I cleaned and sorted and kept on with my manic frenzy to 'accomplish things'. And eventually, the experiment ended.
This morning, I woke up to the sounds of Nickelodeon.
And so it goes.