Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This House is NOT a Democracy!

I seem to write a lot about Joey.  I'm pretty sure that it's because he's such a great source of quotable material.  A lot of times, when I relay a conversation I've had with Joey to Justin, he will spit a mouthful of liquid across the room in laughter.  Laughter is hard to come by, so I take every conversation that turns out funny as a blessing.

Today, I suggested to Joey that maybe I should limit his video game time because that's all he wants to do.  I admit to being a somewhat bad mother in this regard by not already having a limit, but if video games are making him happy and his grades are okay, am I hurting him by allowing non-stop access to Mario Brothers?  I mean, at least he's not watching Girls Gone Wild or South Park on cable.  What's the harm?  Imposing limits hasn't worked with him anyway, as I have discovered him on numerous occasions under the covers after bedtime with his DSi in hand, looking up at me with a very guilty expression on his face.

I was informed today by my youngest son that if I limited his video game time, I would be infringing upon his constitutional rights.  Put almost in those exact words.  Um....please tell me where exactly in the Constitution it says "No parent shall impose a limit on her children's video game playing time?"  Was there an amendment somewhere that I missed?

When I was growing up, we had exactly two televisions - one in the family room and one in my parents' bedroom.  No cable, no computers, no video games, no cell phones, no internet.  We got three channels and were limited to one hour of television per day.  I used to sneak over to a friend's house after school to watch soap operas and eat popcorn (the real stuff - not that microwave crap that passes for popcorn today).  Her mother and father both worked and she was free to watch as much television as she wanted.  My parents were (hopefully) none the wiser.

I can remember when Atari released their original gaming system and suddenly Pong was available.  It was like a new universe had opened up!  A game you could play on your television - holy crap!  Then later came Space Invaders and Centipede and Pacman...games that are now considered to be somewhere on the same evolutionary level as the dinosaurs.  I was really too busy riding my bike and reading (and discovering boys) to get much into the arcades that came out in the 80's.  Going to the library was really a lot more fun and I think my mind got a lot more stimulation from reading a couple of books a week than by spending my allowance feeding quarters into a huge box to play Frogger for the three seconds it took my little green guy to get run over due to my lack of skill.

Video games now invade every aspect of our children's lives, as do the internet, cable television, and cell phones.  Everywhere I go, I see middle schoolers holding devices that have worldwide web access and youtube frantically texting messages to their friends while trying to walk down the sidewalk without running into something.  They are using some video games now to train military personnel.  I know I heard that from a reliable source somewhere - I think it was my husband.  Video games to prepare the military for combat.  Seriously?  Should I be scared of this?  What really scares me is how I have to swerve to avoid hitting the housewives on their cell phones while they are driving, disciplining their unruly children in the backseat, and eating a Quarter Pounder, while putting on their makeup.  Or the teenagers who are too busy texting their friends to watch the road.  Or the fact that a lot of elementary school kids have a better understanding of technology than I do and how my eighth grader knows how to make the DVD player work and I don't.  We have created a world where we have great technological capability but are losing our ability to actually have a conversation or write a real letter, with all the vowels included.

Which brings me back around to Joey's idea that I would be infringing upon his rights under our Constitution if I were to put a limit on how many hours a day he stares at his tv screen trying to get Mario to his destination without being stomped on by Bowser.  (How do I know this?  I stood behind him for five minutes.)  After informing my self-righteous little gamer that the Constitution was definitely not written by our forefathers with his video gaming rights in mind, I started to wonder when the house I am supposed to be running became a democracy and my children able to set the rules.

I think parenting should come with an instruction manual.  This is really out of control.

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