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Month: July 2011

kids and computers

kids and computers

Micah and I both have a lot of business to take care of on the computer. Jobs, callings, hobbies, and even simple chores (like meal planning) often have us on the computer for a couple of hours a day. And our children have taken note. More especially, the older one. It isn’t surprising, really, but it is a little exasperating. Like when he claims it is his turn to use the computer when I’m in the middle of sending a round of important e-mails or typing up a press release. And then he climbs into my lap, commandeers the mouse, and informs me that I had a long turn, so he gets a long turn, too.

It drives me crazy. Just a little bit. Not only because it makes it so much harder for me to work, but because I don’t really want the boys to feel like they need to be on the computer all the time. Despite my poor example. And yet this is the world they are growing up in. Using a computer is a necessary skill. I’m just not sure the best way to go about teaching it to a 4-year-old.

We decided that giving the boy an opportunity to use the computer, for a limited time, well-supervised and with strict parental controls, and then gradually allowing him more freedom as he grows up is the way to go. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to teach him to be safe online, to show him that it can be a tool as much as a toy, and that it needs to be used responsibly. We set up an account for him on our laptop. He has one hour a day to do whatever he would like with a handful of websites, a game of chess, photobooth, a folder of pictures, a word processor and a few other things. So far it is going just fine. He has fallen in love with the chess game, laughing maniacally every time his pawn “captures” (he really means “is captured,” but he doesn’t know that yet), and insisting I come look at every word or string of numbers he types.

It’s only been a couple of days, and some of those days he hasn’t mentioned his computer time, so it isn’t really easy to tell how things will go, but I feel pretty good about it (perhaps especially because he hasn’t mentioned it every day). I am able to take care of my computer-centric business more efficiently, and I feel like we are on the right track in introducing our children to this big, crazy world wide web.

But I’m curious about how others of you handle it. Are your kids computer-crazy? How do you regulate usage, or do you give them any time at all? I’d love to hear other opinions.

ps Simon and I played Trivial Pursuit today (as you can see in the picture) and he won.

flamily lingo

flamily lingo

Simon often says “blanklet” instead of blanket. He says “flamily” for “family.” And sometimes we do too. It’s a show of solidarity on our part, of course. We would never mock our children’s childish slips of tongue. And Oliver’s particular way of saying “yeah” has caught on with his parents as well, at least when we are talking to him.

Those are fun little quirks that are developing in our family lingo. I imagine that in 20 years or so there will be remnants of them that pop out every now and then. Maybe we’ll always ask for a “blanklet” when we are cold, or we’ll head to the “flamily” reunion.

Those are cute little baby things, but I like something a little more substantial. Like when, last weekend, Simon said, “Mom, let’s pretend we’re playing the Loser game and I just played an eight.” We were throwing a ball back and forth, and Oliver was trying to get a turn. What did this have to do with the Loser game? In the game, if you play an eight, it skips the next person. “Oh, so you mean you want to skip Oliver?” I ask. “Yeah, and let’s just keep pretending that we’re playing eights.”

I see. He’s come up with a “nice” way of saying he doesn’t want his brother to play. Clever. If it weren’t actually mean, I would love it. In fact, I kind of hope it does become part of the family lingo.

“I’m not really feeling up to going to the store today. I’m just going to play an eight.”

“Let’s just play an eight on nursery today, since Oliver has had a bit of a cold.”

“No, you may not play an eight on dinner tonight. You have to eat it all.”

It could be fun. I like having our own secret language. What are your favorite bits of your own family lingo? Excuse me, flamily lingo?

an experiment in urban gardening

an experiment in urban gardening

We were really late to get started on a garden. Mostly because we don’t have any land to use. But then some friends talked us into trying to get some space at one of the three community gardens within two blocks of our apartment, so we ordered some seeds and got going. And then we found out that there was no space left for us to plant in any of the gardens. We’ll wait until next year, but in the meantime, we’re trying our hand at vertical gardening. Or window boxes. Or vertical window box gardening.

Like I said, we got started pretty late. But we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get something tasty to eat out of this experiment and maybe a little bit of confidence to try with some real ground next year.

we’re losers

we’re losers

Is 4-years-old too young to play the Loser game? It’s the game where everyone wins . . . except for one person. Pretty good odds when you’re playing with people who can’t stand to lose. Right?

Simon has been pretty excited about the Loser game since his dad started to be pretty excited about designing a special deck of cards for it. He holds his own pretty well, and, amazingly enough, doesn’t get upset when he’s the last man standing. He’s played with us on vacation and at the park with our friends. He wants to play it at breakfast time and after dinner. He thinks it makes a great family home evening activity.

And, most recently, he’s decided that we don’t really need cards to play, blocks will do just fine.

He’s given us an idea for another game or two, but that’s something else entirely.

we tried again and things got better

we tried again and things got better

After Thursday’s fiasco, I was determined to make up for all of the mistakes and bad decisions and lost patience. So on Friday we had fun. I ran the boys to Trader Joe’s, only to discover that I left my wallet at home. No problem. We laughed it off, ran home, had lunch and played games. We decided to go to the New York City Fire Museum. (Simon was a little suspicious about going to a burning building, but I insisted we would be fine and he got excited about it.) It meant waking Oliver up from his nap, but we went anyway. We got there 20 minutes before closing, which turned out to be a perfect amount of time. The fire trucks and equipment seemed to be a little bit much for Oliver, who kept telling me to “Go!” from his perch on my back. We went back to Brooklyn in a rainstorm and did the shopping we’d missed out on in the morning because of the forgotten wallet. We got our groceries from Trader Joe’s, waited for the bus in the rain, stopped at Target for some more stuff, waited for the bus in the rain, and made it home a few minutes before Micah got home from work.

No one cried. No one yelled. No one was hungry or scared or cold. We savored the water dropping on our heads and the chance to juggle grocery bags, children and an umbrella.

Then we ordered pizza, put the boys to bed, and watched “Where the Wild Things Are.”

long haul

long haul

Simon rode his bike all the way to the park on Saturday.

We lost a wheel to our buggy board, but Simon insisted it was no big thing.

The boy could ride his bike.

More than two miles?

Almost. He made it a mile and half before his legs were tired of running.

Then I carried him the rest of the way.

You couldn’t find prouder parents.

I think it’s just about time to pass the balance bike to the little brother and let this big kid have at it with some pedals.