It’s back! Oh how I love this little tradition in our family! Haven’t heard of it yet? Let me explain…
It all started at least 4 (maybe 5) years ago much to the chagrin of my children. I admit that I have a problem with video games. No, not an addiction to but a repulsion against. I can’t stand them. In my perfect world they simply do not exist.
I’m not sure why I feel so strongly about video games. It may be that I just don’t enjoy them in my life and so I don’t understand the appeal they have to my munchkins. It may be that I have seen lives damaged, marriages ruined and so much time simply wasted by trying to get to the next level.
There is something about them that actually hurts my heart.
But I also know that reacting radically is not a right response. Technology can be used, like anything else, for both good an evil. My boys need a time of rest in their day and this is what they choose to do in that time – play pokemon, or NHL ’11 or whatever else it is that they play.
I’ve had to learn to combat my anger against all things video game and learn to loosen my grasp on them a bit. I want my boys to enjoy them but also know that there is danger in addiction. I want them to play now when they are children so that when they are men they can recognize that this is play and work comes first. I’ve had to find a balance that works for our family so that we are on the same page. This balance is called No Screen September!
As we transition from a summer of fun, rest, sometimes downright laziness and head back into the routines of work and school I knew I needed things to change radically to get back on focus. We have always held the motto of work HARD during the week so that we can play HARD on the weekend and the summer becomes even more about the playing than the working so September is a time for us to refocus. To shift our alignment.
As we get back to waking up early and the long days of school and the hours of homework afterward we find it easier if we simply don’t feel the pang of, “I wish I was playing video games.” because it’s not even an option right now. For me, it’s a break from, “Mom, can we play video games?” and having to be the bad guy who says, “No. There is homework to do right now.”
It also sparks in us a time of imagination and creativity. Screens are put aside for playing outside and riding bikes with neighbourhood kids in these last few weeks before the rain sets in. Family nights become about board games or walks to the park instead of watching a movie. Drives over 20 minutes turn the truck into a frenzy of word games, story telling, remembering and trivia instead of the silence that comes with headphones in and gaze focused on a DS or iPod.
Even the boys have come to
love embrace put up with, no screen september. While I’ll admit to a groan when I announced it last night they do know that every year it is coming and by the second week they no longer even have video games or movies on their mind. They will even admit to feeling freedom from it. They have giggled (a few weeks in) about how important a certain game was to them and how silly that seems now, in the stepping away and looking back. They can see and know that they get a bit too caught up. They can appreciate the shift in perspective. Mostly.
A few years back it carried on well into October before they even asked for them back. But now that we’ve sorta “started something” amongst a group of friends and no-screen-september has become a normal for many of the families around us other friends remind them when October hits and so it ends. promptly.
But that’s okay.
It isn’t my ploy to remove
this evil video games from their lives entirely. It is to teach them where priority lies. To teach them balance. To show them other things. To step away so as to enjoy the resuming that much more. To teach them, in a small way, the things that can have a hold on their lives. To show them freedom from these things. To ask them if these things may be idols for them. They can’t see that they are when they’re ‘in it’. But in stepping away the heart reveals so much. We I love no screen september. I pray that I don’t love it so much that I hold it up as lofty or in higher regard than I ought. I pray that God would bless this time for us. And I pray that for your family too, if you’re one of those participating!