The Walking (Brain) Dead

I ruined my son’s life today. There will be no iPods, iPads, tablets, Gameboys, or any other “technology” allowed. The only day that the kids will be allowed to use their “technology” is Saturday.

Ricky’s life is over.

The decision to reinstate this rule came after we played what should have been a friendly game of Monopoly last night. What typically is a night of conversation, teasing, jokes, and stories became a night of regurgitating and reenacting Vines, YouTube videos, and jokes they’d seen online. I felt as though my children’s minds had been hijacked by people I have never met.

So, this morning when I laid down the new rules, two of my three sons shrugged and made a feeble effort to put up a fight. They ended up deciding to head out to play a game of football. But poor Ricky. He spent the better part of the morning with his head buried in his pillow, making lists of why we are the worst parents on the planet.

Later, when Ricky was still buried deep in his cave of disdain, Joe asked me why I made the decision to ruin Ricky’s life. We talked about why I am actually a smart, caring mother contrary to what image I could feel developing in Ricky’s mind.

I explained that I consider our minds like a worm’s digestive system – garbage in, garbage out. If all we see, read, hear, and experience is offensive, sophomoric humor, then that’s what we’ll talk about, replay, and present to the world. I reminded him that he and his siblings are smart, talented, and compassionate. To water down their creativity with videos of kids twerking, adults falling into cakes, etc. wouldn’t be that much of a concern, except the time it takes to watch all of that. When can I expect them to practice their instruments, tidy their rooms, read books, play catch in the yard? Today’s iPods aren’t much different than the TV was in my youth. We can’t spend all day, everyday watching TV or eating Twinkies, or playing Clash of the Clans. That’s just not how we live life to its fullest.

So there I was, repeating the same conversation that I heard from my parents thirty years ago. Ugh. Which made me wonder what other Universal Truths in Parenting there were.

1. Garbage In = Garbage Out. Consider that what you put out in the world (via your athletics, academics, friendship) consists largely of what you’ve consumed.

2. A Smile for a Stranger Opens Many Gates. Is it so difficult to smile at someone? No. And believe it or not, your smiles create a sense of happiness that is contagious. Next time you are serving brussels sprouts, smile and see how much more accepting your kids are of your gourmet selection.

3. Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask Before Assisting Others. The truth is that if your child faints while you are putting on your own mask, you will still be able to help them. But if you faint, then you will be of no help to anyone. As dramatic as it is, this rule applies for many other areas in life.

I’m sure there are others that are equally crucial to surviving as a parent and molding responsible, productive members of society. This is a good start.

Maybe I’ll add more after watching the season opener for The Walking Dead… just kidding!