This week was my kids' first official week off from school. Since we spent the entire camping budget to send them to sleepaway camp in July, they're home with me this month. Mom Camp.
I was pretty enthusiastic on Monday, apparently a little too enthusiastic for them. In the car on the way back from my morning exercise class, I declared this to be the "Summer of Yes," where they would say "yes" to all the activities I've planned for them, diving into new adventures.
My daughter was okay with it, but I encountered resistance on the other side of the car. Bar Mitzvahzilla had apparently decided it was going to be a "Summer of No." It wasn't exactly a "No," it was more like a "Can you just drop me off at home?" followed by a "Can I go on the PlayStation when we get there?"
About two years ago, I decided to override my husband's wise opinion and I bought Bar Mitzvahzilla a PlayStation 2 game system. He was already 12 and was apparently the last child anywhere in the Western Hemisphere who didn't have a gaming system. We were already social outcasts, with legions of boys who weren't interested in coming over to our house to hang out because there wasn't anything to do - despite our basketball hoop and air hockey table. One time a boy came over and expressed astonishment that we had a nice house; the kids at school had all assumed that we were poor because Bar Mitzvahzilla didn't have a gaming system.
So I gave in, buckled. I told Husband that we could keep this thing contained. It'd be used when friends were over only. And anyway, seeing my son stick out like such a sore thumb reminded me of myself as a kid, when friends came over with their perfect Barbies with store-bought Barbie clothes, and then I'd pull out what passed for a Barbie in our house: a Barbie body with a freckled Skipper head and one leg. And it was naked. I felt my boy's misery.
After two years passed, I had to shovel past criss-crossed mounds of wires just to find my son somewhere tangled in the middle, the computer addict needing more, more, more. And just like they say happens with drugs, the purchases didn't stop with the Playstation. Soon there was a Wii, and then there was an iTouch, which I actually thought he'd use for music. Little did I know he could download games. And I don't mean to seem naive, but isn't it a little odd that my son, whom I'm trying to raise Jewishy Jewish, with Jewish values and a reverence for life, spends all of his time on these devices killing human-looking creatures?
Sometimes things I don't want to look at closely kind of dance around the edges of my brain and then, when I finally notice them, my brain kicks back on and I can act swiftly. So when Bar Mitzvahzilla tried to opt out of every activity in favor of staying home with his favorite friend in the world, the PlayStation, this thing I apparently invited into our house to raise my child two years ago, well, that was it. It became the "Summer of No" all right, but with me saying No.
So I took it all away. He put up a good fight, asking me hundreds of times after the ban if he could use them anyway, waiting to tire me out, insisting he had nothing to do. And of course he had nothing to do. He has become the most boring child in the world, with no interests except that. With it all gone, we'll just see who exists under there.
But let's put it this way: by Wednesday he played basketball in the driveway, then he put on his Rollerblades and zoomed around the neighborhood. On Friday he became aware of the existence of other people in the world again, and actually had a conversation with his sister.
And yes, he came along on all the activities I planned in this, the first week of the Summer of Yes.