Mary Alice and I play a game of catch with a large red and blue striped ball I found at Walmart, right before Easter. Truth be told the ball kind of looks like a giant Easter egg. The first time I introduced the ball to her she wasn’t all that interested, so I set the ball down on her living room floor and we found something else to do. A while later she wandered into her living room, spotted the ball and we’ve been playing catch ever since. Standing a few feet apart, we toss the ball back and forth and count together; marking with celebratory “high fives” when we reach a milestone number such as 100. The first time we played catch I think we stopped after 100 straight catches. Yesterday we stopped after we counted 300 straight catches, without any drops in between. Sometimes she’s sly and tries to punctuate her “toss” with some extra “oomph” which has me diving for the ball, while other times she’s just content on barely tossing the ball which sends me running toward her to save the ball from touching the ground. And after every errant toss she apologizes with a giggle and I accept.
The kids and I play a game of catch but on a different level. Our ball(s) may not resemble a giant Easter egg, but nevertheless, we are constantly tossing them into the air in hopes someone will catch-and keep them from touching the ground. Instead of counting how many catches we’ve managed to make, I’ve spent many days simply counting to ten-in hopes of making the goals attainable for them; though lately I feel like I’m playing catch with myself.
The other night I grounded both kids from all electronics in our house and warned the computer could only be used for homework. The boy looked at me and said “No”. “No?” I looked back at him incredulously. “What did I do that got a bug up your butt?” He asked. “Nothing”. I replied. “Then why am I grounded?” He asked. “No you misunderstood. You did NOTHING. Not a thing. Three baskets of clothing sat here for three days and you never attempted to fold them. You leave all your chip bag wrappers and milk glasses on the end tables. You walk right over all the empty water bottles without a care and you leave the over flowing garbage bag in the can, instead of taking them out. You DO. NOTHING. I however do something. I ground you from everything. See how that works?” “I didn’t make all this mess…I shouldn’t be expected to clean it all up…” He argued. “And….since none of the mess is mine or your fathers means….” “Okay fine. If I clean up the mess you pointed out, then can I watch TV?” he asked. “NO. That is not how grounding works. You need to step up and start giving instead of taking all the time. Once we see marked improvement then you’ll earn TV and internet credits. But this general apathy has to go bye bye…today” I explained.
After listening to the boy’s argument, the doll decided to take a different approach. “Mom I’m actually happy you grounded us from the TV. Honestly, all the new channels were getting in my way-preventing me from doing fun stuff with my friends and finishing my books” She said. “”Is that right?” I replied. “Yep…with all this free time I’m going to hang out at the park with my friends.” She said. “I see…” I replied and tthen added “You know…electronics aren’t the only things you can be grounded from….” Giving me a curious look I filled in the blank the doll was presenting, “Books and friends. I can take away books too. I don’t want to. But unless you start pitching in and helping…you’ll lose books, then time with friends too.” Shaking her head in not so much in agreement she walked out of the room.
Today my house looks a little better. The garbage is still overflowing, but the wrappers and water bottles have been placed in recycling. Yet both kids are still angling to get something for nothing as is the nature of the beast. “Mom I’m hyper” the doll began. “I couldn’t go to the park because of all the homework and now I have all the excess energy…” “How about you take that excess energy into your bedroom and pick up all the clothes off your floor, putting them away…? I suggested. “I’m not that hyper” she replied and then skipped off to bed.
Yes, our tentative game of catch…continues on….