A while back I was rear ended by a guy from Vera Cruz. We talked during our seemingly interminable wait for the police to show up and take a report. He was a nice guy, and I had a chance to practice my Spanish, which still isn’t horrendous vocabulary wise despite my accent clearly belongs to an English speaking guero con piel el color de papel. His truck was insured, thankfully, but not him. It was his boss’s truck, and we had to wait for the boss’s wife to arrive and resolve the issue with the policia, though that was due to my Vera Cruz friend being neither legally licensed nor legally in the country. To my knowledge, nobody was deported, but I did see a few nervous glances made by my new Mexican amigo.

El jefe’s esposa, when she arrived, left her 2 year old daughter in the back of her fancy BMW while we worked through the report. It was safer there than on the side of the freeway, even in the rush hour traffic. At one point the boss’s wife mentioned, “I never wanted to be one of those moms who just hands her kid an iPad to shut her up, yet so often that’s exactly what I do.”

That’s a fight I know well. We’ve battled it in our home for years, wrestling with how much TV and games to allow our kids to watch. I know we’re supposed to sacrifice everything to make our bratty little brood transform into people with a little more dignity and grace than they show now, which currently more closely resembles The Jerry Springer Show than Downton Abbey. Plenty of people will claim that each minute we expose then to television’s infectious minds altering invisible moonbeams makes them more likely to toil away the rest of their lives in America’s dirtiest trailer parks, but gosh darn if we don’t need a break every now and then.

It’s especially hard with Finley, who all but loses control if he can’t see a responsible adult for five seconds when he’s not engrossed in a show. Anxiety runs heavily in our family, and he seems to have gotten an extra dose. At some point we’ll just throw up the white flag and turn on Phineas and Ferb or My Little Pony to endless Netflix loops. It’s that or face the screams (or worse — wanton destruction as has been documented on Facebook and will be mentioned more in a post to come). Sometimes the screens just have to run to keep me from jumping in the car and running off to some place really terrible. Like Kansas.

Zombie Mode Engaged

Zombie Mode Engaged

It’s gotten both better and worse with the iPads. With our current set up, we can hand them both their own personal screen, which will stop the infighting for just a few minutes. At least until the battery runs out on one of the devices. Then it’s a battle royale to see who gets the remaining device. It has helped though, at least with the screaming in the car (which I’ve reserved an entire post to discuss at a later date).

Does all this make us bad parents? I’m 100% positive that I can find a healthy number of people who says it does, even without invoking Rule 43. Though I could probably just as easily find a decent number who claim that NOT letting them use their iPads will lead to their eminent death, since the only thing more widely spread around the internet than porn and politics (which, in some ways, are one in the same) is conflicting parenting advice.

I figure it can’t be too bad, anyway. Cumulatively, I spent at least a year of my life growing up raised by the combined parenting prowess of Atari and Nintendo, and not because my parents were were trying to outsource responsibility to game makers. Now I’m an accountant. And believe it or not, there are worse outcomes than that.


Screens, screens everywhere

So I don’t know. We could probably do better about this whole screen time thing, though I’m not sure I’d survive. Maybe if I posted pictures around my office of Kansas’ world famous mountain ranges it’d help keep me tethered, help me realize that despite the blood curdling outbursts every time I so much as close the door to go to the bathroom, my life could be so much worse.