Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day Two of the Consequence Contract

Day Two: Today was the morning of the second day of the Consequence Contract served upon my son by the Supreme Court of Bryceland. The Consequence Contract stated that all electronic gaming will be suspended for the duration of sixteen days (until the last day of school), and that each and any incidence of non-compliance with this contract will earn the offender an additional day to its duration. Any and all complaints must be submitted in writing. Verbal complaints will add 1/2 day to the duration of the contract. Signed by all parties involved (mom, dad, Chailyn) and dated. No fuss. No muss. Just the law.

Why such a severe (according to the offender) consequence? Because, I am absolutely done with the disrespect that I am being shown nearly every time my son is on or near a computer or Nintendo game (especially if it's... god forbid... time to get off). I also see my son crying, getting angry, frustrated, and out of control when he can't get to the next level, when something's not downloading fast enough, or when the screen freezes. Or when someone wants to... ehem... speak to him while he's happily and busily engaged in cyberworld. He turns from an energetically competitve penguin who is throwing snowballs or catching fish (Club Penguin) or block man building new cities, to a child worthy of Supernanny at the drop of a hat... or let's say, the click of a mouse.

So yesterday, my mom's last morning here, he had a meltdown after I kindly asked him to sit in the living room while playing his Nintendo DS. I asked him to move because I couldn't stand hearing his crying/whimpering/lipcurling frustration at whatever it was that was causing him such angst in Pokeworld. Why was he playing this in the morning, you ask? Well, we decided we'd give him an hour a day a little while back. He could decide when to take the hour. I actually like when he chose morning for part of the time because when he got home from school he would more likely use his time to play with friends outside. This morning, that wasn't working out so well. When I asked him to move he had a fit, crying and saying "no." He finally moved when I gave him a "strike." Three strikes and the game is mine for the day.

Then we had another, rather public, incident at the bus stop where he told me "no" repeatedly when I asked him to go over by the tree and calm down after he had an episode with his sister regarding places in line. I think he screamed loud enough to wake every sleepin'-in slacker within a two mile radius. When the big yellow bus rolled up to the stop, I gave my son a hug, told him I loved him, and watched him wave goodbye. His tears rolled down his cheeks as he peered at me through the bus window, waving a very very sorry hand.

It suddenly hit me like a wayward frisbee to the back of the head... My children saying "no" to me is the most disrespectful thing EVER. Not only that, it could lead to a relationship where I do not have control... a dangerous relationship where my children, as they become teenagers, feel they can constantly throw the frisbee at the back of my head. Well, I was going to have to either learn how to play frisbee or confiscate it. (Seriously, I'm not sure if this analogy makes any sense, but just run with it.)

I walked home from the bus stop and wrote up a contract. A very very specific contract. I called my husband and gave him the details, and he supported me 100%. When everyone got home I simply told my son that there was something on the table for him to read and sign. I left to take Kayden to dance, and when I returned he had signed it... "Not truly yours, Chailyn Bryce." Good enough for me. At some point during our very quiet evening, he said that the contract wasn't fair, that two days without screens would be fair, and proceeded to climb under some pillows and wail and lash about when we tried to talk rationally to him. We calmly reminded him about the non-compliance clause, and filled in +1/2 day on the space allocated on the bottom of the page. He then asked if we could go to the library.

The rest of the evening seemed as pleasant as you can get with one kid doing dance rehearsal and mom headed off to a meeting. And aside from being very very tired this morning from having stayed up very late reading, our second day is going well.

I just read an article on a friend's Facbook page regarding a shift in the culture of our youth as a result of living in a techno-world... it claimed that younger generations are becoming less empathetic and more narcissistic. I will now be documenting how this "screen-free" two weeks affects the relationships within our family and my son's outlook on life.

Wish me luck. Oh, and if my son comes over to your house, please put away your iPhone tic-tac-toe app, and log off of World of Warcraft... he will breach his contract just for watching you play.

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