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Small moments

Last night after dinner, my sons begged and begged to watch a DVD. We don’t have television, and we have a “No DVD on school nights” rule.  I stood firm and upheld the rule. Oh, my goodness, were there tears.  “It’s okay,” I said.  “You can be sad.”  One son, looking outside and seeing the light still in the sky implored, “Look, it’s still so early. Why can’t we watch a DVD? We have more time now.” I tried to explain (once again) the phenomenon of daylight savings and turning the clocks ahead one hour. It’s hard for a six-year-old to grasp. His brother tried a different tactic. “You can give us yogurt treats or you can let us watch something. You have to chose one.” Actually, son: I don’t. I did, however, remind the boys of their other options.

“You can go back outside and ride bikes. Or we can play backgammon. Or you can do LEGOs.” The boys didn’t immediately jump at any of those options. They weren’t quite done sulking yet. Eventually, one went back to the LEGO car he’s been working on, and his brother took me up on the offer to play backgammon. Halfway through the game the brothers joined forces against me in the backgammon game.  We laughed and strategized. We tried our best to plan ahead; to anticipate each other’s moves; to make good decisions; and roll with the luck of the dice. They beat me fair and square. And by then it was time for the night time routine of bath, books and bed.

I am happy that I stuck to my guns about our school night rule, even though it initially made the boys sad. It would be easy to slide into the habit of watching DVDs every evening, but I know that small moments, such as beating mom at backgammon, and reading together, are too precious to give up.  These small moments are disappearing from our busy lives. It is sad, because the cumulative effect of these small moments are connected relationships and emotional security. Instead, we often have electronic gadgets entertaining our babies (check out this AT&T commercial) and plugged in, multi-tasking, tweens, teens (see the recent Kaiser Family Foundation report) and stressed-out grown ups (see just about any of us).

So, here’s to singing off-key on long family car trips – instead of using headphones and video screens; to talking together and sharing laughs over dinner – and leaving the TV off during the meal; and to beating mom real good at backgammon – especially on a school night.

4 comments to Small moments

  • These are exactly the moments our kids will remember when they are older. My sister once told me that she had to find activities that could compete with television for her sons; I think this pushes us as adults to really figure out what our children might like to do, and once they’re given non-tv choices, to stand firm even with sad little faces around.

  • “No DVD on school nights” is an excellent rule.

    Here’s something you may enjoy. Couple of days ago my son was very disappointed when I insisted that a plastic star wars light saber was not something we would be purchasing. Two days later he says “look what I made”, and he had constructed a very similar telescoping sword contraption out of cardboard tubes from paper towels and such. “Why that’s even better than the one in the store”, says me.

  • Thanks for sharing a great story!

  • So true, Hazel. For me, the standing firm part has been easy up until now! Since the boys have started school, their experiences and interactions with a wider group of children influence their ideas (of course). Now I’ll hear the, “But so-and-so gets to watch TV at his house on a school night.” That just never happened before they were in school. Oh well, we just have to keep on fighting the good fight.

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