I’ve never tried to be friends with my kids,because I’m not their friend, I’m their parent. I don’t try to make them like me, I hope they just do because I try to be fair and reasonable and treat them with respect, in the hope that they will do the same. I say TRY because I’m not superhuman and I’m far from perfect. I get tired, I get fed up, I get sick of saying the same bloody thing all the bloody time (apparently I say bloody a lot).
I think tonight I am going to make myself very unpopular with the teen and nearly teen in my life. I have got K on board so hopefully we will both get equal dibs in the unpopularity stakes but I suspect that I will be seen as the ringleader, mainly because I’ve got form. K doesn’t shout much: he gets annoyed when strange black marks appear on the staircase wall (he painted it so he feels aggrieved when it gets messed up); he gets a bit cross when he sees the state of their school shoes on a Sunday night when he comes to clean them; he gets a bit annoyed when T starts banging around in his room at 10 pm because he’s suddenly remembered to back his school bag. Generally, I’m the shouter. As I said, I’ve got form. I’m not going to be shouting tonight, at least I don’t plan to, I just want a chat. I’m not going to broach it as having a chat in inverted commas as that will set alarms ringing. I’m going to just drop it into conversation over dinner.
Sounds ominous doesn’t it? It’s not really. It’s not actually that big a deal. I just want us all to switch off our devices by a certain time and leave them downstairs overnight. It’s not been prompted by any specific incident, and this is where I am wavering slightly. I have ALWAYS told my kids I would give them a reason for my answer or actions. If I say “No” to anything I will always tell them why – it’s got me in some tricky situations over the years, where I’ve had to have conversations that I would much rather not have – so this one is going to be a bit difficult. I suppose I have quite a few reasons for it, but they are all going to be deemed lame and “old-person” concerns and mum having another hissy fit about devices and screen time. And I suppose they are right in some respects. I don’t like the amount of time the kids spend on devices but I also feel that K and I are slightly obsessed too and that we could benefit from this blackout period as much as the kids. It’s too easy to fill five minutes while waiting for the kettle to boil by looking at Twitter or Instagram and we both respond to texts or messages in lightning fast time. I want to be less of a slave to it and less addicted and I want some sort of enforced separation from the culprits (the devices). It’s easy for the kids to say they won’t go on their phones after 8pm but still have them in their rooms. The temptation is too great and although I have never caught either of them online at an ungodly hour, I can’t say with hand on heart that I believe them when they say they won’t. I find it hard to not look at my phone and I’m old – how hard must it be for them?
I know this is going to be very unpopular as we’ve tried various other strategies in the past – I went with T not speaking to me for a whole 24 hours after I installed a curfew app on his phone a while back – but I’m not going to back down on this. I am made of stern stuff and I can deal with being a bit (OK a lot) unpopular if it means we can be a bit more engaged with each other and do other stuff, even if it’s just watching TV together. Maybe, if the devices are downstairs and switched off, the kids will come downstairs a bit more often and actually have a conversation. Maybe. Watch this space.