First of all, before I get to laying out the rest of the 2014 program, a January update. We haven’t actually been low-teching it very long, as we didn’t all get home from the holidays until Jan. 5, and I was out of town this past weekend, and Lord knows what went on at my house in my absence. I told Grandma she could handle things however she wished, and while she is supportive of our endeavor (and is generally a saint), she spent most of the weekend at home indoors with the children. Even Mary Poppins would cave in this situation, and I would not blame her if a screen-time binge resulted.
And we won’t talk about the last two days, a holiday and a snow day (THE HORROR!). Monday morning I went on a really hard, nausea-inducing long run, which finished me for the day. Bring on the screen time. And today...ugh. Is there anything worse in the annals of motherhood than a snow day? I used to absolutely adore snow, and I still like it, objectively speaking. But as with all things, when you add kids, the enjoyment factor goes down exponentially. Love watching football on TV? How bout with 2 kids climbing on you and screaming? Love eating out a restaurant? Now add a dining companion who throws food at you and won’t stay in his seat. A snow day for a childless adult means cuddling up on the couch with a good book and drinking hot chocolate all day while you watch the snow falling peacefully outside. What’s not to like. Even after I had Charlotte, I couldn’t wait for it to snow and take her out in it. She would think the snow magical, we would spend hours making snowmen and snow angels, having snow ball fights and catching snowflakes on our tongues. Then it actually happened, and like everything else having to do with motherhood, it’s not quite like the idealized version I had in mind.
Taking a small kid out in the snow in reality goes something like this. First, you have to convince the small child (or one of them--they never want to both go outside, that would be too convenient) that they actually want to go outside, and the only reason you would commit such insanity is that you have exhausted every possible activity inside. You have made cookies, you have played play doh, you have fashioned empty toilet paper rolls into doll furniture. And of course you have travelled the shameful path of Excessive Screen Time, and now you feel guilty. So let’s go outside kids! Next, you have to don the snow gear. Oh dear Lord in Heaven, the snow gear. Can I just say, for starters--I would pay an obscene amount of money for a pair of waterproof, toddler mittens that are easily put on and actually stay on. It’s like trying to wrap a raisin in a slab of bacon for some kind of chi-chi appetizer. Definitely more delicious than a banchee toddler though. Big dilemma--do you put the mittens on before the coat or after? If you do it before, there’s a greater chance they stay on, but then it’s hard to get the child’s hand through the coat arm and he’s gonna let you know about that. Then there’s the pants and the boots and the hat--by the time I’m done, I’m so overheated, I could go out in the snow in a bikini and it would feel awesome. Then you send them outside, where they play happily for about 11 minutes, then they are cold and the snow isn’t sticking together and their snowman isn’t working out for them and their sibling hit them in the face with snowball and they can see the grass a little bit when they step on the snow and--of course--their mittens are falling off. There are three certainties in life--death, taxes, and toddler mittens falling off. You cajole and bribe them to bring the grand total of outdoor snow fun to about 30 minutes. At that point, you risk the neighbors calling the police due to a disturbance next door. You go back in, where you remove the gear as quickly as possible, before anyone tracks snow all over the house and jumps on the sofa in drenched snow pants. Well. That was fun.
But apart from sick days and snow days and lazy days and travel days and mental health days--we’ve actually been doing fairly well. Or, I should say, the children have been doing fairly well. I am another matter and continue to carry on an intense love affair with my iPhone (by the way, if you ask Siri to marry you, she tells you she is not the marrying kind. For real! Try it! Also, she calls me Bill all the time, I’m not sure if she just calls everyone Bill or if I sound particularly Bill-like to her). I did observe No-Tech Sunday last week, however, although I made an exception to watch the Golden Globes Sunday night, why I don’t know. These award shows are always the equivalent of pigging out on stale, burnt, sugar-free cookies made with tar extract. I end up spending hours of my life to see a bunch of fat-free bodies in gorgeous dresses that only make me feel like crap and 10 minutes total of banal, generic acceptance speeches from actors I don’t even really like, all of which I could see on the internet the next day if I really wanted to. Totally not worth breaking my Sabbath. I have also started reading books on a plain ol’ Kindle that my wonderful father gave me instead of on my phone, so that it is harder to multitask while I read (it’s also easier on the eyes. I may yet dodge complete blindness). Still, you would be amazed how easy it is to put a Kindle down and pick an iPhone up periodically. I’m really good at it, and I’m not even that coordinated. So I need to up the ante on my iPhone. For one thing, I need to relocate its charging base far away from my nightstand and replace it with a low-tech plain ol’ alarm clock.
The kids have been doing quite well, but then the technology never was for their sake anyway. I explained to Charlotte that Mommy has been breaking the doctors’ rules by letting them watch so much TV and play so many computer games. If there is one thing Charlotte respects, it’s rules. I have been reprimanded by her on numerous occasions for breaking them--for going up an escalator with a stroller, when there was clear signage that this was not legal; for giving her and Lawson their iPods before takeoff, which was illegal the last time we flew (it is now OK, proving that major progress is possible in the world); for allowing Lawson to stand on the top step of the pool during the bizarre and ridiculous 10 minute rest period each hour that is mandated by Virginia law for public pools (proving that there is less major progress in the world than there could be); and for calling her a Drama Queen, which calling people names is completely unacceptable in all of the world’s major ethics codes. So she has been on board with the tech restrictions. Lawson is doing OK, too, although he still has episodes of iPod withdrawal in which he says/yells/screams, “I want my iPod!!!” 159 times in succession. You just have to pour yourself a stiff drink and push through it. It is serendipitous that our resolution comes just after they have been showered in new toys for Christmas, with which they are, miraculously, actually playing in the absence of other options. The Wii is not much of a temptation and in fact is more trouble than it’s worth at this stage. So we may survive and dare I say triumph.
So here is the rest of the 2014 program:
March--The children will start brushing their teeth twice a day instead of (maybe) once a day. I am proud to say that I already do this for myself (most days).
April--Daily outdoor play will become mandatory, weather dependent. This will also mean Lawson will have to get over his morbid fear of lawnmowers, which began last summer due to an unfortunate and very poorly timed visit from our lawn crew during a 4th of July cookout.
May--The children will start cleaning up their toys before bed, like for real, not pretending to do so while Mommy actually picks up the toys. Charlotte’s view that “chores are such a waste of time” will be mercilessly stamped out.
June--If he has not already potty-trained himself, Charlotte will potty-train Lawson. No, I’m kidding, I’m just going to let him potty-train himself. But in June, he will be given strong incentives to do so.
July--The children’s religious education will go up a notch. I haven’t decided what this will entail, but perhaps doing something other than making paper airplanes or mopping up milk spills with the materials the lovely church people diligently send home every week. And--more incentives for Lawson to potty-train himself will be added.
August--Charlotte and I will start volunteering somewhere. And, Lawson WILL potty train himself.
September--We will institute a museum day at least once a month. We live in the city of free, world-class museums, and we will go learn stuff.
October--IF LAWSON IS NOT POTTY TRAINED, HE WILL BE SHIPPED TO A RUSSIAN ORPHANAGE. (kidding, grandparents and CPS!)
November--We are going to discuss gratitude every day of this month.
December--We are going to do Christmas right, like for real this time. Limited numbers of gifts. Lots of talk of Jesus.
Bring it, 2014.