Don’t the kids want finally to go buy the second Wii remote they’ve been saving up for since July? Don’t they want to get wood to burn for s’mores night? Don’t they know that I will burst into flame if I have to say one more time – on a Saturday – “Get dressed and make your bed before we can go.” Huh? Don’t they? HUH?
Oh wait, my kids are 4 and 7 and have the attention span of spastic rodents.
Mommy finally got the Wii she wanted for her birthday four months ago. I’ll admit it’s not been the massive time-sucker I had feared. Primarily because the main rule is that it’s Mommy’s Wii, so we can only play it with her. The other rule is that you have to be on your feet when it’s your turn to play so you don’t turn into a typically American couch potato. Everybody else, however, must remain seated – or else you might get hit in the head, like happened to my Lovely Bride twice in 90 seconds when our son first tried out his cousins’ Wii.
I’ve even relented to the point of occasionally allowing before-school Wii time, as long as – you got it – people are dressed, teeth are brushed and beds are made. For Pete’s sake, JUST MAKE YOUR @&$%!# BED!
I’ll admit the games are fun – my wife and I have even played some after putting the kids to bed. But as soon as we set the thing up, we realized it would be handy to have a second remote so two people could race cows at a time, for example. So we started a savings plan: the kid jobs that usually earn 25 cents a pop – emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the rug – will be matched (from the Bank of Dad, naturally) if the money goes into the Wii jar. There’s been the occasional whole dollar put in for exemplary handwriting or super-good behavior, but otherwise, saving up has been a long slog.
So you’d think this morning when we count the money to find we’re 19 cents short of the $58.29 we need, Eddie would jump at the chance to earn the last bit. I had in mind that today we’d let the dog off-leash at the park, then check out a new barbershop, buy some wood for our fire pit and s’mores then hit GameStop to buy the remote and maybe even celebrate with lunch next door at Denny’s. Oh, and we need bread.
But instead, he makes his room into a spider-web of purple and blue yarn, then wanders into the living room witha book and settles into our super-comfy giant yellow swivel rocker that my dad took to California in 1963 (thrice reupholstered since).
Dad: Were we going to try to do anything today?
E: Go to GameStop.
D: Do we have enough to buy the Wii remote?
D: What should we do about that?
He turns back to his book.
D: Weren’t you going to rake leaves to earn the rest of the money?
E: Yes… I’ll go get my shoes on to rake leaves.
I realize it’s totally normal for 7-year-olds to be so easily distracted, according to some book I read. But why doesn’t the incentive of getting to buy this remote provide any motivation? Why do I have to turn into Miss Hannigan’s male twin to keep him on track? When does the ability to focus kick in? Do I go passive aggressive and just fritter away the morning on my own, only to tell the kids at lunch that we’re not getting the remote because nobody ever made beds? More likely, I’ll tell them that if beds aren’t made by the time I get back from walking the dog (so much for some off-leash time), then nobody’s getting a Wii remote or s’mores night until next weekend. Ugh, I can hear the whining now.
Fifteen minutes later, he’s still not back. And I hear the sounds of lots of scotch tape being used. Sigh.
Time for me to go act like a grownup.