Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I know! I know! Toys and Computers!

“I know!  I know!” my children like to say whenever I try to tell them something.  One of them even says it before I get the words out of my mouth and I hadn’t even told him what it is that he needs to do so there is no way that he “knows”.  It’s just his knee-jerk reaction for me to quit telling him things that he already “knows”.  Ah, but at six years old, there’s so much he doesn’t know, and even if he does know, he’s not doing it or I wouldn’t have to keep on reminding him and his brother!
Knowing something or being aware of it, is a whole lot different than actually doing it and breathing it so it’s second nature, so you don’t have to think about it.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could discipline ourselves to not waste time casually checking emails or Facebook and Twitter a dozen times a day, or following all those YouTube and news stories about the bizarre things people do to each other, including the very people they love?  We know better right?  Especially when extra writing time is in short supply these days. 

Last night this all came to a head with the two small boys.  Jason will be seven soon, already in primary one, and Justin is four.  I reminded them before dinner not to bring out all of their toys, and not to mix them all up because we’ll be eating soon. Besides it’s a school night, and they’re not allowed to play with their toys on a school night, but what can I say, since their mother wasn’t around, I caved in.  Give them a chance, I thought. They’re boys.  

Jason also insisted he had no homework.  Yeah, right.  And I believed him!  (Usually I’ll check the homework while their mother cooks, but since she had a meeting, I had cooking duties and food comes first.  Already I was running late. . .after I checked my email…

After dinner and homework, I asked them to go upstairs to put their pajamas on.  Then I reminded them, “If you haven’t put your toys away, please put them away, too.  Knowing how they tend to procrastinate (ok, it runs in the family), I called upstairs two more times to remind them that it’s late, and to put their toys away and get ready for bed.  After finishing the dishes I quietly went upstairs to see what they were up to.  It wasn’t pretty.  Toys scattered everywhere, pieces all mixed up; they had been tossing them at each other as “bombs”.  Obviously, they had a lot of fun.  Obviously, I was not in a fun mood.

At the rate they were going, it would take them two hours to clean up their mess when they should’ve been in bed fifteen minutes ago.  And their mother was do home any minute.  Not good.  So I scolded them and to speed things up I grumbled while cleaning up their mess.  This time they had gone too far with their “I knows” and not doing it.  After reminding them four times this very evening, not to mention the thousands of times they had been told by both their mother and me, I decided it’s time to teach them a lesson.  

I cleaned up all of their toys all right, and I mean all of them.  I threatened to give them all away to needy children who would appreciate having such nice toys to play with.  Kids who would gladly put them away properly.  We’ve used this threat before and obviously it doesn’t work.

This time, I planned to make it work. I cleared out every single toy, every single stray piece, including  under the bed, plus all of their board games, and I put them in my car trunk and in upper cabinet spaces out of their reach in our bedroom.  They’ll never find them.  Don’t tell them either, ok?  Even my wife doesn’t know! Since I’ll be going away for four days to Kota Kinabalu, they will not be able to play with them until I get back, and since that will be a school night, they’ll have no toys at their disposal until the following weekend.
Mean, huh?

Then I’ll give them one more chance, with a stern warning, “Next time you play with your toys and mix them all up and don’t put them away when I ask you to, like you’re supposed to, like you “know” how to do, I will donate them to charity.  There is no last warning.  This is it!

Maybe this time, they’ll actually believe me, but I doubt it since they already “know”.  (Hopefully, years from now, after they’re already grown up with their own children, we’ll look back at this lesson and laugh.)    Either that or they’ll never speak to me again!

Right now, I’m considering doing the same with my computer.  “I know, I know,” I shouldn’t be wasting my writing time with all those distractions a click away on the Internet.  This is my last warning, too, or the next time, I’ll stick my computer it in my trunk for a week.  After that, I’ll donate it to another needy writer who’ll appreciate it.  If it works for the children, maybe it’ll work for dad, too.
      - Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer


Anonymous said... the last paragraph...

Julia L. Simens said...

Being Expat's I think we are used to being misunderstood. When I lived in Indonesia, no matter what secretarial thing needed to happen, the greeting would always be a huge smile and the words "file?". This causes you to shake your head and say "How can I be so misunderstood? Day after day."

This is the same type of confusion your own young children bring to the table when each interaction over toys or homework sounds like a broken record..."I know, I know". Or some households do the "soon" broken record.

Now as my own two children are older and computers have invaded all of our lives, it seems our "I know, I know" slogan has evolved into 'click,click,click OK, click, click,click' as our fingers fly over the keyboard and no one is really listening to any of the conversation. I am as guilt as the kids.

Is your trunk large enough for several computers, iphones and other electronic devices for at least one night a week?

Borneo Expat Writer said...

-Anonymous. Thanks. You can't scold your kids without scolding yourself too! Glad you liked it!

-Julia. Yeah, listening is a big problem as my wife likes to remind me now and then. Too easy to get yourself so absorbed in something (usually computer related) that you tend to block everything else out? What's that? House burning down? Yeah, I know. I know, just got to finish this email...

Borneo Expat Writer said...

While I was away in KK, the two boys busied themselves playing and stacking an assortment of boxes! It amazes me what children can do when given the opportunity.

According to my wife, never once did they whine about the missing toys. They knew they had done wrong. In fact, one asked his mother, if we put the boxes away, can we get more boxes to play with? Makes me feel proud.

Already I'm looking forward to returning the toys Friday evening. Boy, will they be surprised!