Sunday, July 8, 2012


Sometimes, it's a cosmic subtle hint. My friend K-, posting this article on Facebook.

Sometimes, it's a truth said in the heat of an argument about nothing - "You're on the computer all the time."

Sometimes, it is a heart crushing proclamation made by a five year old who's been denied screen time - "I don't want to read a book! Books are boring! I HATE BOOKS I WANT TO PLAY WII."

I hate books. The words brought tears to my eyes. How could my child hate books? How could my child prefer to spend her time watching Spongebob or playing video games or browsing the app store or anything, anything but read a book?

The answer is simple. Me.

I wake in the morning, stumble into the kitchen, and check my email. Messages from Target and Groupon take precedence over coffee, even. I fix breakfast and turn my back to my children while they eat so I can check Facebook. I keep the iPad on the counter so I can check in here and there dozens of times a day as I pass through the room. At nap time, I balance it on my knee while I rock Henry to sleep.

Henry is barely awake and starts asking, "Play game?" Julia can work every electronic device in this house better than I can. And she was the source of the "I hate books" comment. I do not read at bedtime anymore with any regularity, finding it easier to put a movie in her portable DVD player, while I get Henry to sleep.

Katie, who did receive the benefit of thousands of pages read aloud to her, and has reading and writing skills far beyond her age and grade level, prefers the company of an ipod touch to anything else.

I, my friends, have fucked up.

I am not a bad parent. I take my kids places and love them fiercely and have spontaneous dance parties and feed them good food and teach them right from wrong. I am afraid what I have become is a lazy parent. Maybe sometimes an overwhelmed parent. Maybe a smug parent, assuming that their natural inclination for awesomeness will compensate for any deficit in my parenting. I am, I think, by any standard a good enough parent.

I don't want to be a good enough parent. I want to be a good parent. I should strive every day to be a GREAT parent. When we decided to have children, everything in my life became suddenly secondary. I am responsible for the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of three very small people. It is my job, my chosen profession, to dedicate my life to helping them become good and kind and productive and generous and loving people. Some people wonder what their purpose in life is. I don't - that's it. Those three people are my purpose in life.

It's my responsibility to do this job the best that I can.

And I haven't been. What I have done is helped create a trio of vidiots, so 'connected' with things that we're losing connections with each other. We lead by example - Sean and I, finally alone with all the kids in bed, sit in front of the television, simultaneously watching a show and surfing on our respective electronic devices.

But it's the way things are now! Everyone's connected! Everyone is linked in! Everyone has a blog! It's bullshit, is what it is.

I'm not going offline. We won't throw out our televisions or computers or phones. I will still give in to laziness and exasperation and say 'just watch a show for a little while' to get dinner made or laundry folded or a few minutes of quiet. I am not perfect, I can not be. But good enough is not good enough, anymore.

Today, no one played video games. As a result, none of us got the shakes or went insane or burst into flames. Instead, we sat on the floor and played Legos until my ass fell asleep. Tonight, I sat in the rocker and announced, "Storytime!" and didn't hurry the story. Julia decided she doesn't hate books, afterall.

Tiny steps. Small victories. Glimpses of greatness.


  1. Once again, you write my feelings far more eloquently than I ever could. I'm going to go find "My Life as a Chicken" and read it to Joey right now. Thank you for the reminder.

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  3. Because the world of technology is such a huge part of our lives, playing Legos in the floor or story time before bedtime become moments your children will treasure as "special treats". Do not beat yourself up my darling daughter, you are a wonderful Mommie!

    July 9, 2012 4:29 AM

  4. The guilt I feel is crushing me. I reward my nieces with video games. We bond when we watch "My So-Called Life" while we eat lunch. I don't want to miss their adorable years. Soon, they'll be teens, and I will regret it more than I do now.

    1. I do think you can bond over TV! Katie loves John Hughes movies, and there are few things that bring people together like John Hughes.

  5. Sadly, it's all too easy to let the devices take over the house. My oldest is addicted to Pokemon. I swear, if we let her, she could play the whole day. We've started limiting her to half an hour a day and tying it to chores. And we're also instituting "technology-free" days. I think it's probably going to be harder for us big people. But really? It will be nice to have some time of looking at my husband's face instead of the top of his head as he surfs on his iPhone.

  6. My eldest wants to sped all day playing brain dead games on his Ipad. We've limited him to an hour a day, which is linked to good behavior. My middle has recently become a "boy friend." He and his girl friend email incessantly, so suddenly, he wants to be online all day, and though the answer is "NO" at least his online obsession is powered by romance. My youngest is a book worm. Seven years old, reads at fourth or fifth grade level. We ask him to go clean his room and thirty minutes later, on my way to the bathroom, I find him half way to his room, sitting on the ground reading some book that he found, while walking to the room he intended to clean.

    Good post. I'm online a lot and have told my older two that they can have more time, provided they dedicate that time to learning how to program their computers. We're working on learning Python programming language now. :-)

  7. I firmly believe that spending time in "nature" - even the weediest vacant full lot of litter (as long as there isn't anything toxic or dangerous there!) - is preferable to most video experiences kids can have. Maybe not preferable to books, but just as important as reading (ha! bet you never thought you'd hear *me* say that).

    My problem is that when it's over 90*F, unless you're in water, nature sucks. :-/

  8. <3

    I feel that I'm failing MYSELF by being so addicted to technology. I can only imagine how much more angsty it is when you have kids!

    I think you're doing a fabulous job. And I should know...I don't have kids, so that pretty much makes me an expert on parenting.