Where to start?
Was it the miraculous speedy recovery from the FLU? (Thank you very much, FLU SHOT!) Was it the successful recovery of the house this morning, after quick flu bout that set us back several days in life repair?
Was it the gig in the *MicroSoft* enclave in the Center of Cambridge that I dreaded, but appreciated, then enjoyed today?
Or the birthday performance for the lovely family I see regularly? The fact that it’s Saturday Day Night Live time tonight and I’m STILL AWAKE? That we got to spend the evening with dear family friends? As if all that isn’t MORE than enough…
Here’s what it really was:
Our kids woke up this morning, just *perfectly* in time for the school bus… had they needed to catch the school bus, which of course they didn’t, because it was Saturday. My two year old girl started her day crying because she wanted CANDY. And our five year old boy crying because I said “no” to him playing video games on his daddy’s phone. At *6:45* in the morning. So, after sorting out their biological needs (potty, milk, dry, cozy and such), I decided to indulge myself in going ahead with showing them what’s been on my mind for days now anyway.
So we gather on the couch, and first I showed them this: [Global Soap Project, 4mins, 48 secs]:
When I first saw it, I was like, “And I get a hard time in my family for always asking them to wash hands!” But moreover I’m like, “How awesome is this and… how much do you LOVE this guy Derreck Kayongo?!?!
THEN I showed them THIS [no video, just 2 mins of photos & text to absorb]: Chained Up Boy
Horrible and austere of me to show them, I know. My aim of course was to help illustrate how lucky we are, to have things like a HOME, a bed, health, jobs, access to medicine, school, roads, clothes, food… and other luxuries. (Forget *video games* or *candy!*) These folks with a hovel on the inside, and garbage on the outside, they’re not bad because they treat the boy like this, and they don’t WANT to treat the boy like this; they just don’t have any resources.
Naturally my son was pretty turned off by my efforts. My daughter (no dummy, but 2 all the same) seemed just happy to be sitting on my “yap.” My son did say, amazingly, that those people should “try to *recycle* some of their trash, and then *sell* it for money.”
“Amazing you say that!” I say, and show them THIS [Landfill Harmonic, 3 mins, 27 secs]:
My son does not complain, and my daughter says, “Again!” So we watch it again, after which she says “Again!” again, on account of the music. So instead I search for “Peter and the Wolf.”
(On a comedic note, when at first I read that it costs $3 on YouTube, my 2 y/o shouts, “Oh DARN IT!” …causing a welcome interlude of giggles for us three.) But then I find it on Netflix. Staged to the original Prokofiev score, it is all of 30 mins. But here is a ONE MINUTE taste I DARE you not to fall in love with: [click link]: Peter and the Wolf Preview
Like, we only just discovered this production, and we can hardly get enough of it. Do you know what my son said about the *duck and wolf* scene? ”TOO VIOLENT!” he said in protest; incensed, offended, violated. So incredibly rich coming from the ninja-super-hero-weapon-specialist-modern-adrenaline-junky who LOVES killing stuff with anything animated or pretend. THIS bothers him? Thank *goodness* I say. Tragedy & demise treated meaningfully and with sorrow? WHY should it ever be any other way?!?!??
And that the wolf is shown compassion in the end just underscores the complexity, ambiguity and humanity in us all. [Spoiler alert? I don't think so. Watch it! Watch it!] Amen and halleluia.
OK so anyway, not only all THIS, but ALSO: I share with my husband a proposal lifted from a random parenting book I’m reading (“How to Behave So your Kids Will Too“). The idea is “30 minutes of screen time for every 30 minutes spent *READING*.” At first this seemed absurd to me, “1 to 1 ratio? That’s way too much (screen time)!” Then I realize that is 30 minutes more of reading than we are already asking of him for screen time. [Oh and of course it doesn't hurt our son has turned into an amazing reader for his age; not to brag, just praise the lord and halleluia to that too.]
So later this morning as I prepared to leave for much of the weekend per usual, I offered my husband this idea; “When Gavin asks for screen time, you could say, ‘YES as much as you want; just every 10 minutes reading = 10 minutes screen time.” And DEAR HUBBY WENT FOR IT!
So now instead of just *limiting* screen time or implying that it’s a forbidden indulgence (if you’re me, or not if you’re daddy)… these (contemporary) kids need to be raised with skills to MANAGE it. And instead of positioning ourselves as *obstacles* to it, we parents can now enjoy the benefits of creating responsible *pathways* to it. One strange implication is that *reading* is a currency and that *screen time* is the payoff (reward). But the happy truth is that BOTH are payoffs.
Then lo and behold, when I got home in the evening, my son was so busy reading aloud to himself he neither noticed me nor hugged or kissed me (’til I insisted later). He was honestly so agreeable for the remainder of the evening I can scarcely believe it. There was a big pile of books (baby books no less, but my favorites… all by the indelible & incomparable Sandra Boynton)… that he had apparently “read over and over” in order to earn screen time. Hey; whatever man! My dear Mom… a lifelong avid reader, always said, “Doesn’t matter if it’s a cereal box, so long as they’re reading!” (Something like that; right Mom?)
He even *shared* the video-camera-video-cartoon-movie experience with oldest friend Zaida tonight, instead of letting her wilt while waiting “her turn” as he “shows her how to play” a video game. (This is a huge step up from Thanksgiving just one week ago!) He even stopped a red hot crying-performance-fit cold in its tracks later when he saw an opportunity to restore his video privileges. He even agreed to *assist* his sister in getting ready for bed for this. But because I don’t believe this post can sustain one more digression, I save THAT play for the *next* post.
What can I say, other than “Holy Saturday, Batman!”?
(It’s not like I don’t know these good things are about to *change* mind you. It’s of course *because* they do that I must celebrate them when possible!)