It seems that all my kids free time is spent in their rooms doing homework. Once in a while they will appear from their abyss for a glass of water, a trip to the pantry for a cookie or two or three, or even to tell us parental units a quick funny story or remind us of some important task we must not forget to do for them. This got me thinking about the amount of free time I had in high school.
It's hard to think that far back, but I really don't remember studying half as hard as my sons. I remember long telephone calls with girlfriends and boyfriends, playing hours of tennis just for fun with a friend, and I remember being done with all my homework most nights by 8:00pm, before the prime-time line up started. Of course, there were the inevitable nights I would have to study until 10:00pm because I procrastinated studying for a test or finishing a paper.
Times have changed. Stakes seem higher. The competition is on.
But what I do remember about studying in the olden days are the little breaks I would give myself. "When I finish chapter 5 from my Biology textbook I will get something to eat." Or, "When I finish my thesis I will call Joey or Susie back."
Cut to today.
Kyle is studying for a pre-calculous test, he needs a break so he turns to his computer and checks facebook. Then he studies a little more, needs another break, and he turns to youtube and catches a few videos, then back to the books. I have tried to watch him maneuver between studying and all the electronic toys he has at his fingertips. He browses the websites he loves, checks up with friends and texts, all from the computer, all while he is studying. Now, I am not saying that he does not study way too much, what I am saying is that if I had all these distractions I would never have made it out of my room for the prime-time line up. What takes Kyle six hours I probably could have gotten done in four without all the toys to distract me and get me through the endless hours of studying.
I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, it is just a new way of doing things. But here's what concerns me. As a result of all the distractions that undeniably help him get through the tedium of homework, I see him less. And that's what really bugs me. How nice it would be to end the day with a few relaxed hours before we all went to sleep. If I counted the minutes I actually see my kids in a day I am sure it would add up to less than an hour. And most of that time is driving them places. And that is just not acceptable.
Short of banning computer use and cutting off texting privileges I am not sure what I can do. I don't think their studying suffers from all their multi-tasking, I suffer. So what can I do about it?
Perhaps if I put up embarrassing photographs of them on this BLOG, then they will have to come talk to me. We could could spend time together as they try and admonish me for ruining their lives. I could text them, telling them that I have put up a photograph they might want to see, post the photos on my facebook page and tag them so it shows up on their facebook page, and then download a video of them as infants doing something really stupid and put it on youtube.
It would make a point. I would get their attention. But is it the kind of attention I want? I'll tell you tomorrow.