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On the same team

Mythankfulboy and I get along really well, which is spoken with great gratitude and trepidation since he is a young teen.  Still, I offer this thought to preface a description of a brief period of tension and angst we had over the weekend.

Over the weekend I had a fever, and was in a bit of a fog for most of Saturday.  In the afternoon sometime I realized that B had been gaming (Destiny on Xbox One) pretty much since he’d been awake.  He’d checked on me as he passed by for food or the bathroom, but otherwise he had been gaming.  So, I asked him to come in to where I was sitting and I asked him to calculate the number of hours he’d been at the console.  He calculated, “About 5”.  I said, “Then that’s plenty, don’t you think?”  He wasn’t sure how to answer this.  He knew the expected answer was “Yes ma’am”, but everything in his adrenaline-pumped being was saying “Uh, no.”  What he actually said was, “Ok. Can I just finish this one thing?” then he returned to his room, finished that one thing, and joined me in the living room where he proceeded to talk over the Hallmark Christmas movie into which I’d been sucked.  It crossed my mind that I should have waited until my movie was over to take a stand, but instead I just told him to hush and let me watch my movie.  So he pulled out his iPod.  Ok, well, I wasn’t going to fight that screen when I was screening, myself.

When my movie was over I built a fire in the stove and moved to the new location.  He joined me there and, after some quiet fireside contemplation asked, “Can I just ask why, if it makes me happy, you don’t want me to do it?”  A good question, right?  I chuckled and gave him the not-all-things-that-make-us-happy-are-good talk, mixed deftly with the gaming-turns-your-brain-to-mush talk and the being-able-to-postpone-pleasure-is -correlated-with-better-life-outcomes-according-to-the-marshmallow-study talk.   He harrumphed and went to bed at 8:00.

The next morning I asked him if he wanted to make monkeybread with me, and he happily bounded into the kitchen.  After a few minutes of working side-by-side, I asked if he was still mad at me.  He said, “Well, yes.  I mean, I don’t know.  What’s the difference between angry and frustrated?”  I told him that angry was when frustration overtakes you, and you go from feeling like you can deal to feeling like you can’t.  He never really said if he was actually angry (based on that definition), but he expressed, again, that gaming was something he loved to do and he wished I wouldn’t put a time limit on it.  Then he suggested that he be able to game several hours, as long as some of the time was in the morning and some was in the afternoon/evening.  I told him I thought that was a really good step towards self-monitoring, and that I could work with that, but I still needed to say no more than 4 hours on weekends.  The only reason I allow that much is because I hear some really wonderful things being discussed and managed socially when he’s online with his friends.  Earlier today I heard him chastise someone for using the word autism in what must have been a derogatory or flippant way (“Man, autism is a trigger for me when you use it like that.  You’ve gotta find a different way to say that” – we may need to talk about the word “trigger”, but I thought he handled the situation fairly well).  He also has no problem with my listening to his side of the discussions – he doesn’t have much choice because we live in tight quarters.

So, the discord was over just like that, but his questions are still with me.  Why not do whatever makes you happy?  What is the difference between angry and frustrated?  When you’re a teen, who should be in charge of your time?  I’m reminded that his brain is gearing up for independence, but isn’t there yet, and he still needs – craves – boundaries, assurances, and information he can trust.  So, tonight, as I listen to him talking, planning, and giggling with his game-friends, I am grateful that he and I are still on the same team.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Momma vs. screens

Friday night at his dad’s house.  Saturday night at his friend’s house.  Then, this evening, I practically had to drag him off of his gaming system to have any discourse at all.  I can put up with the socializing, but I will not be completely drowned out by technology.  I asked him to come to a stopping point in his game and to turn it off and find something else to do.  What did he find?  My phone.  I don’t think so, buddy.  He said, “I just wanted to look up whether screens actually kill brain cells.”  I told him that, no, i didn’t think he was killing brain cells by gaming all the time, but I knew he wasn’t developing new skills in other parts of his brain, and that that was equally concerning to me.  I gave the usual alternatives to screens – the ones that were the only real choices beyond TV when I was a kid – and he balked at each as they crossed my lips.  So I told him we could study for the spelling bee, or I could find some housework for him to do.  Spelling bee it was.

When we wrapped up studying for the evening, I wrote some words that were particularly hard for him to remember on sticky notes and hung them around the house (e.g., pyrite, jettison, impugn).  Then I returned for the chalice lighting.

There is another storm predicted for this evening that is a little bit of snow (coming down currently) and a fair amount of ice, if it proceeds as predicted.  Mythankfulboy was thankful for his dog, his momma, and the chance for a two-hour school delay.  Now that he has a middle school workload, he doesn’t really wish for whole days off – it’s just work he’ll have to make up, and he doesn’t want a lengthened school year, either.

I was thankful for time with him, without screens.  He admitted, “Me too.”

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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New lessons

The chalice lighting started off so nicely tonight. B was thankful for the creek at the bridge at the bottom of the hill that we walked to this weekend among many weekends. This weekend we happened upon a kid he knew from afterschool care who lived on the way, and it turned out his parents owned the section of the creek we like best. So I took both boys and the dog with a light snow falling down to the bridge and let them skip rocks and throw in sticks to watch them go downstream. Peaceful. Lovely. Pure.

When it was my turn in the chalice ritual I said I was thankful for a weekend at home to get things done and enjoy each other. B was unusually quiet. I don’t now recall exactly how the discussion unfolded from there, but what came to light was that he was very frustrated that I had restricted his screen time when “everybody” he knew could play “all weekend” if they wanted to. Furthermore, it was very hard to not have a X (screen of the moment) when everyone else did and he “could only dream of having one”.

Laugh? Cry? Scream? The proper response is? Deep breaths. D-e-e-p B-r-e-a-t-h-s.

We reviewed what actually happened this weekend, and how anything (screens) that makes you feel that desperate for more (screens) should be carefully administered (screens). I covered the adage that being pleased with what you have is the path to happiness, and that perspective is everything. I reminded him that he has a mom who listens, and that I would keep thinking about it, but that I thought the first order of business was for him to get busy making some money and stop waiting for things to be given to him. We brainstormed some winter money-making ideas, discarding a hot chocolate stand in favor of a post-storm yard cleanup business. By then we both felt better.

I am uncovering new elements in this concept of gratitude that are necessary to specifically teach. Tonight, the lessons for me are that it is easier to be thankful when you have than when you don’t, that earning something teaches a different lesson in gratitude than just receiving it, and that deep breaths can help a momma get through even challenging chalice lightings.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Catch up

I have had internet access issues of late that, in conjunction with the arrival of, unfolding of, and aftermath of the holidays, kept me from recording my son’s precious and not-so-precious thoughts about grattitude.  For those of you who look for our entries, I apologize.  Here are some of the highlights that did not get recorded in the last month:

B:  Being invisible (he says this from under the covers)

M:  You know you’re not invisible, right?

B:  Yeah, but it’s the idea of being invisible…

“For all the stuff I got for Christmas.  This was an epic year.”

“That new church.  Even though we didn’t like it, the people were nice.  I think we should give it another chance.”

“For all the people I love.  Especially my cousins. They are sooo much fun”.

(after a day of battling over the amount of screen time he would have)

M: Tonight, let’s try to think of something in the broader world to be thankful for.

B:  Okay.  I’m not trying to be smart or anything, but technology really is important in the broader world for lots of things and we should be thankful for it.

M:  sigh

 

Over the holiday we had the good fortune of having friends give us a mini laptop that they weren’t using.  They offered it for B, but because my mini was on it’s way out, with a half-inch of permanent gray at the top of the screen and a circle of bright yellow in the top corner like the sun shining on your work, we decided to give B my existing mini and I kept the newer version.  Of course the newer version had bells and whistles I knew he would have liked to have had, so I held my breath as I presented him with the old one, wondering if I’d get a lukewarm response.  Instead, I got a thrilled, and very thankful one.  “Thank you for even considering letting me have this.”  “Thank you, Momma.  I know not many kids my age have a laptop.”  He asked to write our friends a note, and in that note he said, “Thank you soooooo much for suggesting that I have my mom’s laptop and her have yours.  I am so grateful for it.  I looooove my new laptop.  Thank you again.”  And then I got a thank you note typed on the new laptop.  That night, at our chalice lighting, I told him that I was thankful that he was living a life of gratitude, and that I knew that it would lead to happiness for him.  And I didn’t it to him, but something about hearing your child use the word “grateful” just makes you feel like you’ve done your job.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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