Screen time is a sticky topic in our house. The 13 year old boy in my home does not like to have limits imposed on his screen time. And he has a variety of screens to tempt him. The TV, of course, and the computer and his Nintendo DS and his Wii and his phone and his iTouch...
Of course, he thinks I'm mean because we do not have an XBox 360 Slim and he can't have friends over without it because they will all be bored and have absolutely nothing to do. If you are not lucky enough to have a teenager in the house you probably think I am making this up or exaggerating but sadly, it is true.
The other day his friends came over and they were all sitting around playing with their phones and not even looking at each other. "That's enough." I told them. "Turn those screens off. You are all smart kids. Surely you can find something else to do."
And then, after my little pep talk (or fun-crushing lecture, depending on your perspective) I did something very dumb. I left the house. When I returned, the boys were very excited. They were packing up pitchers of lemonade and plates full of cookies and brownies onto a wagon and heading up the street for their very own Lemonade stand. What entrepreneurs!
Then I went into the house and saw my kitchen. Wow. Maybe sitting around texting each other wasn't so bad after all. Dirty bowls, measuring spoons, cookie sheets and brownie pans sit on every counter. There is a thin layer of sticky lemonade powder everywhere and my feet are sticking to the floor as I walk.
Mess aside, I was proud of them for thinking of an idea and following through with it. I head down to the corner to patronize their business and buy a cookie. "Mom, I had a little trouble with the cookies," Jack tells me. "I just put all the ingredients in the bowl and then I realized there were steps. I couldn't figure out how to mix everything up so I ended up using my hands like I was making bread."
Kneading cookie dough--that's one way to solve the problem. All told, the boys made about $12.00 each and they did come back to clean up the kitchen, sort of. I think they've cleaned me out of flour and chocolate chips but they had fun and they learned a lot about working together and the importance of following a recipe. If I'm lucky, years from now they'll remember our house as one where they could be creative, play games and have adventures, instead of the boring old house where there were limits on screen time. If so, it was worth all the lemonade dust on the floor.
Disclaimer: Credit for the witty pun goes to my friend Dave who said he often "kneads" a cookie. One reason Dave is so droll and intelligent is that he limits his screen time and reads a lot of books.