“5 more minutes and then you are done, Buddy,” I shout to my son, who is busy creating a giant rollercoaster for his latest amusement park on Rollercoaster Tycoon. The words barely get out of my mouth as I run up the stairs to check MY email and peruse the headlines on my Yahoo page. 5 minutes turns into 10…and 20 minutes later we are BOTH still on the computer. Screen time is the silent enemy in my eyes, trying to monopolize my son’s time. Yet I have been so busy worrying about him being trapped in this sneaky addiction, I hardly noticed I am caught up in it too! Maybe we are ALL in need of an intervention!
For me, the computer is both friend and foe. I love email – it provides a great way for me to stay in touch with friends and family scattered all across the country. I actually enjoy getting newsletters from some of my favorite websites and stores, even if I don’t have time to read them all. And how many times per day do I check my personalized home page on Yahoo, set up with all my (many) favorite news sources. In one quick glance, I get the major headlines from the AP, Reuters and other popular sources. But is it usually just a quick glance that I take? Or do I get sucked up in the “need to know” vortex of news and entertainment?
Does it really make a difference in my life if I read about the Metrolink train crash tragedy or the devastation of Hurricane Ike 5 minutes after it happened – or 5 hours? Certainly there will be more known facts and better reporting the longer I wait. Elizabeth Edwards’ comments on how she is doing in the wake of her husband’s shocking confession will be there for me to read right now – or later tonight – or 3 days from now. Why do I feel the urgency to read about it now? Have I been so conditioned in this fast-paced, must know world of news and information?
I confess I want to know what is going on. I don’t ever want to be out of touch with what is happening in our world – that just isn’t this Zen Mama Wannabe’s style. I’ll never forget my disbelief when after telling a friend about the profound sadness I felt with the death of Tim Russert, she stared at me blankly and said, “Who is Tim Russert?’
So I am not arguing against all this – necessarily. What I am realizing is my need to “just check” the computer as frequently as I do is getting in the way of me being present (i.e. in the moment) with my children. That is the problem. (Certainly not very Zen-like of me, huh?)
There is a simple solution. This week I told myself I would not go on the computer at all in the afternoon. When the kids were home from school, I was going to be here – present – in their lives. Leave it to Beaver strikes again. Email and internet news would wait until they went to bed. Sounds completely reasonable, doesn’t it? Well, here is the truth: I didn’t make it once! That is right – a big 0 for 5!
Oh I tried - starting out strong, with the best of intentions and all, but then I happened to be walking by my computer and thought, “Oh, I’ll just take a quick peek” – just to see. I couldn’t help but wondered if my friend had emailed me back, or if anyone had added new comments on my blog, or if the financial crisis played havoc with the stock market that day, or what critics thought of the season premier of House. WHOOSH – sucked in again! If that is not an addiction, then what is??
I frown at my son if he wants to play another round of Home Run Derby. I tell my daughter no more PBS videos for the day, that she has had enough. But who is telling me I have had enough? It is pretty apparent it is not just our kids that need limits.
So, here we go again. First step: admit there is a problem. Check. Second step: create an action plan. Check. Next step: implement said plan. Ah yes, JUST DO IT - the hard part. But don’t worry – I will get there. You see, this Zen Mama Wannabe is convinced the more tuned in (not out) I am, the more tuned in my kids will be. It is called the connection cycle: better mom – better kids – better family life – it just keeps going round and round. We lead my example; I have been talking the talk, now it’s time to show them I can walk the walk. Just hope I don’t trip all over my heels as I
stagger walk down the path!