It's felt like we've been living in the half light recently. Neither of my kids have made it to school this week; Tween with his head injury (I'm still unable to rouse him in the mornings), and Teen got some viral thing which gave him headaches and the occasional vom bout. So days have been whiled away on phones, tablets, PCs... And it's not just the boys; I too have been guilty of wasting hours online. My particular area of expertise is stalking ex boyfriends on Twitter, daydreaming about what could have been, searching for signs of new girlfriends.
By yesterday lunchtime, I'd managed to rouse myself from my electronic fug. CRAP, I thought: it's like we've all eaten the apple, and have been drugged for 100 years. (Bit over the top, I grant you.) So I walked into the front room and made this announcement:
TONIGHT, FROM 5PM, WE WILL HAVE A NO SCREEN EVENING. NOSE FOR SHORT.
AT 9PM, WE WILL WATCH SOMETHING TELEVISUAL TOGETHER. AT 10PM, THERE SHALL BE BEDTIME. *END*
I was prepped for a barrage of abuse. I had my best steely glare at hand, in case of mutiny.
But, as it happens, it wasn't needed. Both boys glanced up from their porn viewing (or whatever). "OK," they said, in unison.
Bloody. Effing. Nora. What the actual??? Was that all it took? Just a firm 'no', and they would capitulate? Why have I been so frightened of doing this before?
So. 5pm came and the tech was turned off. I made scones. Tween read. Teen - wait for it - tidied his room. I KNOW. Then we all played cards together. We made tea together. We ate tea together and complained about anchovies. We played cards again. Teen did his homework. We all sat down at 9pm and watched Child Genius. I had a little cry.
And then, at 10pm, the boys went to bed, with less than the usual grumbling.
This morning, I feel much better than I have done for a long time. I had a good night's sleep, and was woken by my alarm (unusual). Teen is also better, and has gone to school. Not so miraculous for Tween, who needs a bit more than a night without tech to recover - I couldn't wake him up for school. Still - tiny steps forward and eventually battles will be won. Probably.
They don't know this yet, but NOSE will be a regular thing. It showed me that I've lost it a bit, as a parent. I've lost that sense of family that I remember having, in bursts - usually on caravanning holidays - when I was a child. I'd assumed that, when your children become teenagers, they don't need you anymore. But that's not true. In fact, you all need each other. Just as much as before.