The boys successfully “fasted” from hand held screens throughout Ramadan this summer and once the season came to a close, they didn’t really ask for them, so I’m certainly not going to offer them! The only place that it has come up of late is at restaurants when they ask, “What are we going to do while we wait?!?!”. Hmmmmm…let me see, I have a novel idea, why don’t we talk to each other. To their response, “Okay, what are we going to talk about?”. So randomly, we have been talking about popular children’s shows and the parts of them that make absolutely no sense. For example:
Why do the Berenstein Bears wear clothes, but no shoes? And isn’t it odd that they are animals that can talk, go to school and work, but all of the other animals are still “animals”. And don’t even get us started on their lack of hibernation.
Why do Caillou and his family always wear the same clothes? And no one ever gets older.
Why, in Franklin, does Franklin have a name, but all of the other characters are called by their animal type, i.e. Bear, Fox, etc.
And the most puzzling of all…where in the world are Max and Ruby’s parents?!!?!
So this weekend as we were waiting for our pizza at Portland Pie Company (our favorite since they have gluten-free vegan pizza) we decided to Google “Where are Max and Ruby’s parents?” and of course there was a slew of discussion threads–we are not the only inquiring minds that want to know! All of the threads led back to an interview with Rosemary Wells, the author of the series, where she is quoted as saying, “We don’t see Max and Ruby’s parents because I believe that kids resolve their issues and conflicts differently when they’re on their own.”
While searching for the answer was all fun and games, the answer was brilliant and was like a light bulb moment for me! Duh! How many times have I had conversations with friends of my generation about how our parents never played with us. We went outside each day to play with the neighborhood kids and didn’t come home until the street lights came on. My mom owned a business 20 miles away and left us a chore chart each day and got us a membership at the local pool and we were on our own. I’ve even written about my mom’s designated “Fend For Yourselves” nights each week where we had to make our own dinner and put ourselves to sleep.
As a result, when my kids ask me to play with them, my answer is always, “I gave you a brother for that.” But all kidding aside, how many times do your kids come to you in a day with “Mom, so and so took….” “Mom, where is…?” “Mom, how do I…” “Mom what should we do next?” and you answer without even thinking about it. Over here, it’s like four billion times a day. And when I think about that, I realize that I’m really hurting them, more than helping them. They need to work on conflict resolution, problem solving, strategy, creative thinking on their own without having all of the answers. By my not playing with them, is actually better for them! Work with me here!
In the past couple of days when they have come to me with a dilemma–like what they should use for a coffin that would hold water for their mechanical fish that had “died” (I can’t make this stuff up!) I have replied, “Well Max and Ruby, you better figure it out.” I’m operating on the assumption that Zain is Ruby and Mir is Max of course and while they aren’t loving the analogy, when left to their own devices they have been settling their own disputes, figuring out solutions, and finding ways to play with each other (for the most part). And in all actuality, all summer, as they have been screen free, they have tapped their creativity on ways to entertain themselves. Most of them have involved water, so I’m pretty sure that our water bill will be double this quarter, but it’s a small price to pay for them to experience the freedom of just being kids, on their own.