Category Archives: aha moment

Two Mamas At Target

I went to Target this morning to pick up a few random things. A birthday card, a few bottles of wine, paper towels, a box of tampons, and a Mega Bloks Halo minifigure that I pinky promised I’d buy for Riley because Gertie ate the one we bought yesterday as a reward for surviving a throat culture at the pediatrician’s office, which thank God was negative.

Gertie’s been driving me batty lately. She climbs on tables and takes the boys’ toys hostage. Last night, she peed in the bedroom and pooped under the computer desk. I think she needs a paper chain! This Gertie rant has nothing to do my trip to Target, except that it helps explain the wine in my shopping cart.

In the toy aisle, I came upon a woman with a baby in a stroller and a toddler who was exploring. You know, running all over the place. It was a little tricky to get my shopping cart through the chaos, and eventually the mom said, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize,” I said. “I get it. I have two of my own. They just happen to not be here right now.”

She laughed a little bit and said, “You’re lucky.”

I laughed a little bit, too.  She was right.  I don’t often think about all of the catastrophic shopping outings I’ve had with my boys over the years, but – oh man – I’ve had them. We’ve all had them. These days, I take for granted all of the places I can go alone with no whining, needing to go the bathroom RIGHT NOW, or fielding questions I don’t want to answer, like, for instance, “What’s a tampon?”

When I finally reached the end of the aisle, she said, “Enjoy yourself.”

As if I were at the spa or something! I was at Target, for Pete’s sake, but damn it if it wasn’t just a little bit peaceful.

I looked back at her and said, “Thank you,” and then I added, “You’ll get here eventually.”

And that was it. She continued to chase after her little boy, and I headed toward the front of the store to buy my wine and tampons. Our conversation was brief, but it was profound. There was no judgment, and there was no envy. She was genuinely happy for my present solitude, and I was genuinely hopeful for her future solitude. We were two Mamas at Target on the same wild ride but at different stops on the journey.

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Filed under aha moment, motherhood, shopping

Minecraft Made Me An Asshole

It’s quite a headline, isn’t it? But it’s true. I’m an asshole. Ever since Minecraft became a thing in my house, all I do is yell, threaten, punish, and negotiate. Negotiating isn’t necessarily a bad parenting technique, but the kind of bargaining in which I’ve caught myself engaging – “If you stop playing Minecraft, you can skip your bath” or “If you stop playing Minecraft, I’ll give you a dollar” or “If you stop playing Minecraft, I’ll buy Froot Loops” – has left me feeling defeated and depraved.

Last Friday, as I yelled my way through another miserable Minecraft morning – Get up! Eat breakfast! Get dressed! Put your shoes on! Brush your teeth! Get in the car! GET IN THE CAR! – I lost it. Without thinking about the consequences, the following words came flying out of my mouth: “THERE WILL BE NO MORE MINECRAFT IN THIS HOUSE BEFORE SCHOOL!”

NoMinecraftZone

I felt a little bit like I cancelled Christmas, but I also felt really good. I didn’t want to be a victim of Minecraft. I wanted to be a survivor. I wanted to be in control of and feel good about my parenting, but I had to admit Minecraft and technology in general were starting to have the opposite effect.

Allison Slater Tate’s remarkable Washington Post piece on parenting in the age of “iEverything” resulted in an aha-moment for me when I read this one sentence:

My generation, it seems, had the last of the truly low-tech childhoods, and now we are among the first of the truly high-tech parents.”

Yes! That was it! That was why I had no idea what to do about Minecraft! That was why I had no idea why my kids were obsessed with watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games! That was why I ended up yelling, why I was afraid to set boundaries, and why I didn’t know when to say yes or how to say no! That was why I was an asshole!  It was because I had no idea what the hell I was doing! But neither did anyone else! Hallelujah!

My boys are young. At ages seven and five, they have access to tablets and smartphones, the Xbox, and our family computer, but they don’t have their own cell phones, and they don’t do social media, send emails, or text…yet.  I’m only just beginning my “iEverything” journey as a parent, and I have absolutely no idea know what’s right, but I’m starting to recognize what feels wrong.

On Sunday night, I reminded the boys that there would be no Minecraft allowed on any devices in the morning before school. They would be allowed to play again after school only when all of their homework was complete. I’m pleased to tell you that the kids survived the morning, and, to my great surprise, they complained very little. Even better, I didn’t raise my voice, negotiate with a terrorist, or cry after I dropped them off at school because I felt like an asshole…again.

Toward the end of Ms. Tate’s Washington Post piece, she wrote:

“I don’t think I even believe there is a ‘right way’ to parent with technology. But acknowledging that what we are doing is unprecedented – that no study yet knows exactly what this iChildhood will look like when our children are full grown people – feels like an exhale of sorts.”

As a 30-something- (okay, almost 40-something-) year-old parent of young kids immersed in technology, I’m navigating uncharted territory. I don’t know what’s right, but I do know how I feel. So, at least for now, my strategy is to trust my gut and make choices that don’t make me feel like an asshole. If you think this revolutionary parenting technique will work for you, feel free to use it. Just don’t forget to give the original asshole – me – some credit.

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Filed under aha moment, boys, parenting, technology