How Am I Supposed to Do Anything?!
Nearly a month after mentioning it to Shane, I finally approached the subject of electronics restriction with Dylan.
First, I came up with ideas for things to do in the “down” times: camping, the zoo, swimming holes, waterfalls – you know, summer stuff. I even picked things we could do for shorter time periods: miniature golf, picnics, bike rides, movie matinees.
With nearly 50 choices, all visually laid out, labeled and sortable, Shane had a blast. He created a countdown from the various choices, finally coming up with about 20 nearby fun activities, and more than a dozen day-trip activities.
Dylan took the same choices, looked through them, and said, “What do I do if I hate half of these and I don’t want to do them at all?”
Teenagers are so fun.
After they finally – mostly thanks to Shane – came up with their favorite things to do this summer, I printed out their decisions, in order, and magnetized them on the fridge. Shane came up with an additional idea and added it to the page. Dylan ignored everything.
The next day Shane asked, “Now that we have it all organized, when are we going to do all this fun stuff?”
“Not this week,” I said. “But we’ll get started when Dylan comes home from his trip.” (Dylan is going away for a week with the church.)
Later I was in the car with Dylan – the only time I see him – when I finally had to tell him about the plan.
“We’re going to have four-hour blocks without electronics,” I said. “We’re going to use that time to enjoy things away from all the little screens.”
“WHAT?!” Dylan shrieked. “We’re going to spend four whole hours doing absolutely NOTHING?! What am I supposed to do during that time? How am I supposed to talk to my friends? How am I supposed to do anything?!”
“You will have plenty of time to talk to your friends,” I assured him. “And you will also have some time to enjoy the summer.”
“I am enjoying the summer!” he wailed. “I’m HAPPY! For the first time in my life I am finally happy and you’re going to take that away from me!”
“No Dylan,” I said. “I am not going to take that away from you. You will have plenty of ….”
“Yes you are!” he screamed. “And I suppose we have to do this every day?!”
“Four times a week,” I said, deciding on the spot. “And remember, I will be off of electronics, too. This is something that we’re all going to do together.”
“Together, right. But you decided it. So for four days, just because you want no electronics, I don’t get to talk to my friends! I don’t ever get to do what I want to do!”
“You will still get to do what you want to do,” I said, though it fell on deaf ears. “And we’ll get to do some things as a family, too.”
“Right, like we’re going to do anything that’s good. I need my friends! I can’t live without them!”
“You can,” I said. “And you will.”
And he will. For a whopping sixteen hours a week, he will survive.