Madden

Is your child enthralled with video games?

My oldest son is a huge fan, though we’ve never owned a gaming system. It was a conscious choice by my husband and I. We didn’t want to get caught up in having to have the latest and greatest, spending lots of money on games and accessories, turning our living room into a game room, and most importantly losing our son’s attention. We want to spend time with him while he’s growing up, not him and his video controller.

Of course, we have tablets and my son has found that gaming systems aren’t the only medium that allows you to play games. He quickly found Madden (NFL) was available as an app and begged me to download it. We agreed he could with screen limits (though I know he’s exceeded the limit many, many times). When I’ve realized this and told him to turn the game off, it is met with much resistance. “I need to finish this game!” “Just a minute.” And the list goes on. I’m the ‘bad guy’ interrupting his fun, or so he thinks. After me nagging him multiple times and then walking over and taking the tablet out of his hands he shared his anger. “Why can’t I have an XBOX? Everyone else does!” I took a breath and reminded him that we had no plans of buy a gaming system. He’d already shown us he struggled with screen time just on the tablet. He didn’t like that. I’m sure he thought my husband and I were being unfair and/or mean.

My son went away to overnight camp for a week and was not allowed to bring any electronics. We didn’t know how he’d fair. He had books to read but this would be the longest time he’d been away from electronics. Before he left on his trip, he asked if I’d update his Madden app on the tablet while he was away. “It’s very important,” he said. He even put a reminder on the calendar.

When my son returned I shared with him that I’d had trouble updating the app, but found a work around. He was grateful and started to play the game. After about 30 minutes, he gave me the tablet and said, “You know, Mom, I don’t need this. I’m glad you never got me a XBOX. If you did, I would just be on it all the time and would miss out on doing so much. Like all the stuff I got to do while I was at camp. Sorry I gave you such a hard time about it.” My younger son was standing nearby and overheard the whole conversation. His expression was priceless. He too couldn’t believe what his older brother was saying.

My son is back on his tablet, but not as much as he previously was. I know what a draw Madden can be, and know how much my son enjoys playing it, but am glad he’s seeing the pitfalls of spending all of your free time playing games and how, if you’re not careful, they can take you away from participating in life.

How do you handle your child’s screen time or gaming habits? How are you helping them be present and experience life?

I’ll be off for Labor Day weekend and back in September.

Holiday Cards

Dear Friend,

I hope this card finds you well. Another year has flown by again…

Holiday cards are nice to receive, right? I love getting cards from friends. I really enjoy getting holiday cards from friends, particularly those I haven’t seen in a while or do not speak to on a regular basis, that include details about what they’ve been up to the last year. It seems like getting details lessens every year.

I can certainly appreciate how busy everyone is. There always seems to be something to do: get your child some place, get yourself some place, pick up something, drop off something, make something, do something. The list of ‘to-dos’ seems endless. Getting holiday cards done can seem like one more ‘to-do’ on a very long list.

I appreciate the effort and the thought of being included on friend’s mailing list, but oh, how I miss details of what is going on in our friends lives when they are not included. I know there are many reasons why people don’t do this:

  • They don’t want to be seen as bragging (most letters include highlights vs. low lights — you see more “we took a trip to Hawaii” vs. “Jimmy’s failing math and we’re super stressed about it.” right?),
  • They don’t think others are that interested in what’s going on with them (we are, we really are), or
  • They don’t have the energy to sit down to write the letter–there is just too much to get done, and this isn’t high on the list (we can all relate to this).

Writing a letter, for my husband and I, is a good way for us to pause and reflect on the past 12 months. We are often in awe of all that has occurred–good and bad, and what we look forward to in the New Year. It feels like by capturing our experiences on paper, we’re somehow permanently entering them into our family time capsule (which is made up solely of our memory, and what we capture in pictures, and on paper). The letter is a brief snapshot in time of our family history, that without writing down on paper, we’d too easily forget. When we finish our letter, I normally experience a range of emotions from grateful to sad: grateful we made it through another year and we are all healthy, and sad that precious time has passed.

A friend, this year, sent a simple fold out card with pictures of her kids and family. While it could have stopped there, she made the card even more special by adding text over each child’s picture with what everyone was grateful for. It gave me a quick sense of what the kids were into (grateful for certain toys, or their pets, friends, etc.), and that they were doing okay (when you share that you are grateful, it tells me that things must be pretty okay…it’s difficult to be grateful when you are in a low spot or something terrible has happened).

She shared those details I crave. I really appreciated it.

How do you stay connected with others? What types of cards do you like to send, and receive?

I want to wish everyone safe and happy holidays. I will be taking time off and will return in January.