couldn’t wait to get back to the negotiation table, with him – my 10 year old, 7 days after the gadget detox began, but that’s not what I led him to believe. From his point of view, I couldn’t care less about giving his “stuff” back to him. It wasn’t even a negotiation table from my point of view – it was a set of guidelines that I’d prefer him to follow. But having freedom, or the perception of it, is the most valuable thing known to human. He needed to feel that he was in charge.
So he was itching for it – to have the taste of freedom again. Every time he did something right, which were many, he’d like to know when he’d get his iPod back that he got as birthday gift less than two weeks ago. I was not, from the look of it, in a rush.
Whenever we talked casually about what he thought was the ideal amount of screen-time, on a weeknight for example, he would have a number higher than where I would like it to be. If I said the minimum was an hour, his response would be two. He’d also test the water by saying, “but you said 3 hours the day before yesterday.” His primary goal, what I realized, was to exceed the limit, not the absolute amount of time he received. Extending the boundary was, in and of itself, part of the goal here.
When finally we sat down to talk formally, my take was simple – I want him to be in charge of himself. He does what he is supposed to do – manage him schedule, his activities and school work and then he does what he enjoys, with screen time limited to an hour a night. Then he gets back iPod AND PS4!
We shall see how long this sticks. For now, there’s truce. The most enjoyable time during this process was the incessant conversations we had, whether the intention was to oil me up or to share with me what he really wanted to be for the fifth time. Selfishly, it just took a drastic measure to get that time from him.