My visions of an ideal summer day might be…spending time at the beach or having a family picnic. Should these activities include a 7 yrs old boy glued to an iPad? Prior to having children, I would cringe seeing a child on a GameBoy or laptop while sitting by the pool or at the park. Kids should be engaged in family experiences, right? “What are those parents thinking?!” Not only would I think this, but I would likely say it out loud! As imagined, now I have a different dialogue running through my head!
Take our recent ferry trip. It was a gorgeous summer day and the forecast was for hot temperatures. Because we are true Washingtonians with a pinch of vampire (See My Funny Vampire post), we packed up the car and headed for the ferry docks. We missed our ferry and were relieved that we were properly prepared with charged electronics for the wait. While on the ferry, we decided to stand outside of the car and enjoy the amazing water view. However, my TBP wouldn’t leave the comfort of his backseat.
Once on the island, we went to the local farmer’s market before heading to lunch. There was a pretty equal mix of eating and playing games at lunch.
When lunch was done, our son was too! Luckily, we were able to take a quick walk through town (not as long as we would have liked) despite frequent requests to go home.
When back in the car, he was able to recharge the iPad which in turn…recharged his tolerance for this family outing.
Here’s what it reminded me…you cannot judge me until you sit in my car during a ferry line! I would love if these trips meant to him what they mean to me. That just isn’t the case. So, we go as a family and he enjoys parts of what the trip has to offer and the rest of the time he uses the iPad so that we can enjoy ourselves too! I finally get it! The parents that I previously judged, let the kids think that they were doing them a favor by letting them use the iPad . In reality, the iPad is a gift for the parents! It buys some time. We have conversations (at least partial ones), we eat our food, and we can read or shop with minimum complaints. There I said it! I didn’t know the secret until now!
Is he plugged into electronics more than I would like? Probably. But at the same time, the games on the iPad , filming Mine Craft tutorials, and challenging himself to do more than the last time he crafted a village… are the things that he loves to do. So we work to achieve some level of balance between plugged in & unplugged. I admit, like most things, this is a work in progress!