It started with an afternoon video game spree in the middle of a very untidy family room. I started to get angry. Well, that’s not exactly true… my blood was boiling. I had been upstairs trying to work my way through Mount Washmore, while the kids were supposed to be picking up the first floor. I had carefully assigned specific, age-appropriate tasks in the hopes that when all the work was done, we could head out for the park and enjoy a beautiful summer day. Unfortunately, the kids had other ideas.
The blue glow of the screen, whether it is some mind-numbingly sophomoric show on Nickelodeon, or Minecraft, or even an educational movie, had reduced my children to pudgy zombies seeking non-stop entertainment. This had to stop. I want them to know there is more to life than what you can find on a screen.
So I unplugged it all. I piled it up in my office. I told them they were not getting any of it back until the end of the summer. They sat in stunned silence. Now what? I didn’t even know. I shut myself in the office to formulate a plan and to avoid being taken prisoner by my mutinous minions.
I decided that I would let them know that I understood that no electronics was a tall order. BUT, if they were willing to stick it out, they would see it would reap big rewards. I told them to go make a list of all the non-electronic things they wanted to do this summer.
I got back lists which included the local amusement park and water park, the Museum of Science and Industry, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Yellowstone, the local park, several campgrounds, Glacier National Park, and on and on.
YES! First step accomplished. They did know there was life outside the tube. The next step was to sit down and have a meeting. We decided a trip was in order. In addition to heading out to Six Flags at least once a week, and going to Chicago to the museums, several local camps, and our diocesan VBS, we now have plans for a two week excursion to Glacier National Park, Teddy Roosevelt Park, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, and parts in between. We’re bringing Grandma, and a Great Aunt. And we’re camping.
Since the games and TV have been unplugged, they’ve learned to play games with each other, they are reading more, and lots of games are being played in the back yard. I have noticed more compassion with one another and more creativity in their dialogue. The lack of electronics has had a humanizing effect on our family.
They still ask for the video games. And I remind them of the trip we’re planning, the work we have to do on the house before we leave, and all the fun there is to be had outside. There are some groans still, but it’s getting better.
This may be our best summer yet.