One of the current debates in the parenting world is called "Screen time". Now if you live in Hollywood and are the parents of an 8-year-old trying out for that great part and has a cocaine addiction at a 15-year old's level, this probably means something way, way different between you and the rest of us. Seriously, don't spend all your kid's money on hookers and 4-loco (is that still a thing?). Open up a nice easy investment account so that they won't have to do playboy at the age of 19. I'm looking at you Disney Channel people.
See what I did there? I deflected judgment onto someone who is possibly way worse than me so that I can look like a god damn saint when I finish this story. You will be so busy googling failed child actors and their shit heel parents that I will be looking like a rose. I should be a politician but I don't like to kiss babies. Face it, babies are gross. They look cute from a distance but you can never tell if they just ate some chocolates or diaper candy.
Now you are thinking about bad parents and poop eating babies while I'm gong to come out looking like a saint. This is going well.
Screen time for the rest of us means how much time we allow our children to veg out in front of anything electronic. Is it good? Is it bad? Am I a bomb sheltering scared hippy? Am I not hippy enough. Should I get a flower power tattoo while my child watches Mutt and Stuff? On a side note, yes another one to further the distractions here, does anyone think the main guy on Mutt and Stuff looks like the actor Justin Long? Don't know who that is? Well, you need more screen time and I probably need less. Watch the movie "Tusk". It will ruin your life and Mutt and Stuff all at the same time. Win/win.
There is a whole war going on over this. Just google it and you will find articles written from every conceivable angle. Too much and your kid is going to rot his brain, get hooked on drugs and sport meth teeth in his sophomore year photo because there is no way that kid is going to graduate high school. Too little and your kid is not going to learn as quickly and dear god when preschool starts what happens if he doesn't know how to read and there goes Harvard so fuck it go get some meth. Parents are very passionate about this, almost nutso about it. They either brag on how they are doing a wholesome nature raising thing complete with wheatgrass organic sippy cups or they tell how their 10-year-old is just so good using his new iPhone and learning how to speak Chinese. Heads up to both groups here: wheatgrass is used to kill your soul and your 10-year-old is actually looking at porn. So basically the end result is the same.
This is getting pretty contentious in an under the surface kind of way, much like the vaccine vs. anti-vaccine groups. Ha, I'm just kidding. Vaccinate your kids. If you are not doing it, you are doing it wrong. We can all agree on that so fuck you, take care of your kids. Jesus, how is that a thing? Polio or no Polio. Hmm. Wheatgrass screen time it is. (Yet another deflection!)
However, I think both groups are wrong. Not on the vaccination thing you people are shit heels. On the screen time thing. The whole discussion is framed wrong. It shouldn't be framed as too much or too little. It should not be framed in a "my kid is nature loving" vs "my kid will be a genius" fight. That's the wrong fight to have.
Here's the real issue. My 3-year-old is going to be living in a closet with spiders if I don't get just a couple minutes a day to poop. I need the confidence to walk into a bathroom knowing that when I do, because there is only so long that I can hold it, that my toddler won't try to plug the dog into a wall socket. Are my wall sockets covered, hell yes they are. Will he go into the garage, find some tools, unscrew the outlet and then stick the dog's nose in it? Probably. He can't figure out how to pull up his underwear but he turns into freaking Macgyver when it's time to break something. And have you ever pooped with someone staring at you in the eye? Every parent every where is now nodding their head. It's awkward as hell. Don't look at me, I can't poop when you look at me. Sadly, prior to Ipads, I couldn't poop unless the door was wide open and someone was singing to me while looking directly at me. So weird, so very very weird. I do not enjoy it.
Now that we have covered pooping, lets move onto cooking. Let's all rehash this very real and very common conversation:
"Don't stick your hand into the hot water."
"Because it will hurt."
Then he proceeds to try to stick his hand into the hot water. Look, I'm all for letting the kids help me cook. Great, teaching a life skill, much like pooping in solitude. But the kitchen can be a crazy place with lots of hot things and you can't eat microwaved nuggets 3 times a day. And also, sometimes Dad just wants to make a nice damn sauce for Mom and Dad's dinner and we would prefer to not have any boogers in my reduction. Really, it's just common courtesy. Now please quit waving the knife at your brother and how did you even get that drawer open, it was locked?
And finally, the one we will all relate to the most, is that sometimes I just need a break. I get up at 7 and I run around all day. Every part of my day is filled with questions, chores, complaints, wants, and responsibilities. And like most parents, I enjoy most of it. I love coaching soccer with my boy, I love taking my daughter to volleyball and watching her play. I love finger painting and butt wiping. I love answering every "why" and explaining every "because." I love every story that starts with "did you know dad that cows have 4 stomachs" and ends with "it was so funny dad, it was just so funny, let me tell you again why it was funny." I love bath time and story time and bed time. I love it all. My day doesn't usually end until 9 at night because there are always drinks of water and homework forgotten or one more time please tell me why it was funny. I love it. But sometimes, Jesus, sometimes I just need everyone to shut it. I need a moment to think. I need a moment to step back and plan my next step because honestly, a lot of times I'm just winging it. It's good to have a moment where you can decide if you put the nuggets in the microwave or the dishwasher because that's going to make a pretty big difference when dinner time comes. And yes, you are going to eat it either way.
So screen time is really more of a time out card for life. As parents, have we forgotten how much time we took just to do these things unfettered? Have we gotten so used to the constant interuptions that they are part of life and somehow we feel guilty for just needing a few extra moments to maintain our sanity? I think so.
As you go about your day today, doing your jobs or driving your car, do me a favor. Set a repeating timer for 3 minutes whenever you are doing something. When it goes off stop what you are doing, try and answer a completely unrelated question while hopping on one foot and boom, that's what parenting is like. All the time.
So giving our kids an Ipad or turning on a cartoon is not to be judged or fought about. The real question is what are the visiting hours in the mental hospital. I'm not saying to do this every day all the time, spend time with your kids, be a good parent. Don't let them eat diaper candy and let's all judge the real crap holes of the parenting world: The Organic Hollywood Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Seriously, fuck you people