Last week I pledged to attempt a four-hour car ride with kids, minus electronics. I kept to my pledge. I didn’t break the news to my children until we got in the car and my 8 year old asked for his Kindle, so I told him about our plan.
“But you said we could have our Kindles on any car ride that’s more than an hour. You said…” (Both kids got Kindles for Christmas…I know, I’m a douche bag for giving a Kindle to a 5 year old. Sue me).
I truly hate when my own rules are thrown back in my face. “I know that’s the rule, but we’re going to try something different today. It will be fun.”
“Can we play that alphabet game?” I assured him that we’d play as soon as we hit the highway. He seemed to settle down. The 5 year-old, bless his heart, was too clueless to realize the severity of the situation and remained mute.
Two minutes into the alphabet game, I was on the letter “C” and my son hadn’t passed “A.” Frustrated he quit. We were 5 minutes into our ride. This was going to be one long day.
Eventually he picked up his papers and pencils and started drawing, while the younger one began asking for his Kindle. I again broke the news to him, to which he responded, “Ok, I’ll just play on Daddy’s phone.” He reminded me of that character in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” where, upon learning that her niece’s new boyfriend didn’t eat meat, she relented and decided to make lamb. Just…not…getting it.
He finally did get it, and, after a few minutes of whining and complaining, he too accepted his fate. I won’t bore you with the details of every fight, whine or annoyance. You’ve all been there and know what it’s like. They actually weren’t that bad overall. I’d say 70-80% of the time they entertained themselves and didn’t complain. That other 20-30% was the problem, however, because it felt never-ending, all-encompassing. It was then I realized: I have NO tolerance for my kids’ bad behavior, and neither does my husband.
Intellectually, I know my kids will behave terribly on occasion. I’m mentally prepared for this bad behavior with a sack full of consequences and various coping techniques. The minute, however, they start fighting or whining or having a tantrum, I become frustrated and intolerant. This is my problem, not theirs. I guess it’s time for Mommy to chill the fuck out, take a breath and resist the urge to dwell in the drama of how awful they are – they’re not. They’re just kids.
My personal issue is that I’ve been home with my kids for what feels like forever. At age 47, I’ve still got one child at home full-time (other than a measly 2.5 hours/4 days a week at pre-school – hardly time to eat lunch and run an errand). My tolerance has been depleted and I’m done.
I’m not giving my kids electronics so they can be entertained; I do it so I can get some peace. The only kid-free time I get is once they go to bed, at which point I’m too tired to do anything. So, when I get in a car for four hours, I want four hours of peace…not three hours…or even three and half hours. I want it all and if it means turning my kid into a screen zombie the entire time, so be it. If we ever do take a car-ride in which I want my kids to enjoy the scenery, I’m happy that they’re able to do so. In the meantime, however, here’s your Kindle, kid!