Monday, April 30, 2012

Shutting Down

Last Thursday a note came home from school in my son's backpack about Screen Free Week. This is a week during the year (this week, starting today) when participating families pledge to turn off their t.v.'s and electronic devices for a whole week. It is, according to the website, "an annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life". Turn on life? Talk about throwing down the gauntlet.

Because I feel like our kids don't watch all that much t.v., I've typically ignored these notices in years past. Yesterday though, Henry and I told the kids we'd be participating this year. They each met this news with the kind of look usually reserved for the last guy in line at the methadone clinic five minutes til closing time. And yet, God love 'em, they are brave souls, and said they'd try. The truth is, they're not the only ones who are scared. My kids watch t.v. in the hour between after school activities (be that playground time or a structured class) and dinner. And I love that hour, because it allows me to make dinner in peace. No breaking up fights, no scrambling to divide my attention three ways, no homework to help with. No interaction at all. Just me in the kitchen, and the boys next door with the one eyed babysitter. Life turned off.

But this week I'm going to take a stab at using that unplugged time to engage the kids somehow.
Maybe we'll just play with the blocks, or paint or read books together. Maybe I'll finally teach them to finger knit. Or maybe I'll just let them figure out how to spend that time on their own, even if it means I have to referee an argument, or clean up someone's mess or dry someone's tears. Whatever it is it'll be our lives, together, turned on.

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