Monday, October 4, 2010

Family meeting, Part I

On Thursday night when the holiday of Simchat Torah was over, I called a family meeting.

The inhabitants at Casa Baila understand that these meetings are not usually good news. We are not the type of family that has regular formal meetings. The last one we had took place almost two years ago when Isaac lost his job and we had to tell the kids about the new austerity plan. No shopping, no eating out, no movies, stuff like that. They loved that meeting.

Now the kids know that, Thank G-d, things are good as far as work goes, but they took their places very suspiciously, wondering what I was up to now. Isaac himself was raising an eyebrow, as meeting was called unilaterally.

Here's the thing: Our family has become very addicted to the internet. For myself it's facebook, blogging (okay, maybe I'm not writing quite as often, but I'm still reading. Alot.) and downloading streaming TV shows. The kids are also watching TV online and facebooking. Isaac says he's working, but to be frank, I don't believe him. At least not all the time. So it's conceivable that on a given night you'll walk into the house and find Isaac and I on our lap tops, Liat holed up in her room on her computer that she bought with bat-mitzvah money, and Tali and Orli arguing over who's turn it is to get on (the loser watches TV).

A common sight for the modern family. But this is my family, and it's not pretty.

Now I've imposed some limits on all this. When there is school, the kids are limited to an hour of internet. But when there's no school (and we've just come off a three month vacation, with a week of school thrown in somewhere at the beginning of September) the number of hours spent in a sitting position is just mind-numbing.

I don't like it for myself. I don't like it for my kids. And I don't like it for my family.

So I started my meeting and told them how I felt. And I proposed this: one day a week (BESIDES Shabbat), we were going to be a completely computer- and television-free family. I didn't really care which day, but I told them this was a fait accompli.

I know you're as surprised as I was that the troops didn't jump up for joy and thank me for saving our family. Nope, they weren't grateful at all. Here are some of the reactions I got (I think it'd be a fun exercise to match the comment to the person who said it, for those of you who really know my kids), and my responses:

"I guess I'll be well-rested 'cuz I'll be going to sleep at 3:30 [when said-person gets home from school]" (I think you'll find things to do). [Orli]

"Look, if I need to do school work on the computer that's going to be a problem". (Not a problem, there will be special dispensation for school work, but understand that the work will be closely monitored). [Liat]

"Hey, I need to work" (Then stay at the office until you're done. One night a week you will come home to your family and be with us, not working on the computer). [Isaac]

"Does this mean we'll go out to eat at Burger's Bar, you know for the family to be together?". (No it means we will have to find ways to fill our time that are more productive. If it means doing something together like going for a walk or a swim, that would be great). [Tali]

No, the troops were not happy or grateful. But I felt I had to do something. I've thought about more strict restrictions--getting rid of the TV and not allowing them to use the computer for the internet at all, or putting some blocking software in. The fact is, I'm not willing to do that at this point, but felt I had to do something.

We chose Sunday, and yesterday was our first day without internet or TV.

I'm going to tell you how it went--in my next post.


SuperRaizy said...

I love this! You, my friend, are a true parenting hero!
Now let's see how long it lasts ( :

Anonymous said...

can u post the answers to who said what, need to know. thanks


Gila Rose said...

Oooh can't wait for the sequel!

אנט פרידמן said...

Very curious! Please let us know what happened!

Kathleen said...

I'm glad that you're planning another post because I'm curious to know how it went too.

Anonymous said...

Very brave but also very responsible of you. i wish you were my students' parent.