Monday, February 14, 2005


When we were young(er) and idealistic, we had a list of things that would not happen in our house: Barney, Pokemon, TV as babysitter, bribing with candy, etc.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

Timothy liked Barney and was so cute singing the Clean Up song. Some friends gave him Pokemon cards at school, and he enjoyed those long before the games or TV shows entered the picture. TV is a GREAT babysitter, but only if used sparingly. And candy soothes the savage beasts, but if they don't behave you have to stand firm and not give them any.

We also had plans about how to parcel out TV and computer time, but we have been lax about enforcing them. Thankfully, just like working in a chocolate factory, unlimited exposure seems to have dulled their desire for more.

And natural boyishness makes them incapable of sitting down and doing anything for longer than 15 minutes. They'll sit and watch TV for a few minutes, then run upstairs to play Bionicle for an hour or so, then run downstairs to play on the computer for an hour or so, then run back into the TV room to see what's on.

But a new evil has entered the house. In November, Timothy got a Gameboy and a Pokemon game. At Christmas, Stephen got one, too. They played it some at first, but not too much, so we didn't put any limits on it.

Then Timothy lost his. We had gotten an older one (Gameboy Color) for pretty cheap ($13 on Ebay) just in case this happened. But we had to decide what to do about replacing it. After a quick prayer ("God, I need help"), I decided that we would pay for all of the first one, half of the second one, and none of the subsequent ones.

Thinking about it now, this is a pretty good policy. See what praying gets you, George?

So Timothy would have to pay for half of his replacement. He was okay with this, since he has a source of income (feeding the cat and making his bed) and had already had to save for something once before (a Bionicle?).

After 5 weeks, he had enough to pay for half of a Gameboy Advance that we had gotten (cheap! $20) off Ebay. God bless Ebay.

But now he and Stephen were addicts. They played all the time and were running through batteries at a ferocious rate. I got a pack of 36 AA batteries at Home Depot last weekend (during one of my 7 trips there; another story), and they had already run through 10 by yesterday.

Something had to be done. So we put them on a time allowance. One hour per day, no rollover minutes. Once the clock starts, there is no pause. When the time is up, they give the Gameboys back to us.

Announcement of the new policy was met with great weeping and anger. Stephen pouted with the intensity that only he can muster, and he's a champion pouter. Timothy went into the downstairs bathroom, hid behind the door, and banged the door until I assured him that I was aware of his displeasure.

Then we had hot dogs and new chips for lunch, and new chips cover a multitude of transgressions.

We'll see how the plan works, but initial results are good. Yesterday, right after the hour was up and I had collected the Gameboys, I heard Timothy say, "Hey Stephen, do you want to go outside?" And they did.


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