Dad Stories: A Day Without Devices & a Lesson From My 6-Year-Old (and It All Started With a Pair of Broken Sunglasses) by Michael Kennedy

Dad Stories: A Day Without Devices & a Lesson From My 6-Year-Old (and It All Started With a Pair of Broken Sunglasses)

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times ... or something like that.

My 6-year-old little girl broke my nice sunglasses during horseplay with her brother, and due to the unfortunate incident, I had to lay down the punishment. I was forced by the laws of parental repercussion to administer a punishment fitting of the crime. As I looked eye to eye into her teary goldfish eyes, her remorse almost swayed me off my parental perch, but then I just blurted out the words the children in my house fear the most, right alongside the boogeyman, spiders and snakes: "No screens for the weekend, nada, nope, nothing, not even a drive-by in the living room. No iPad, no gaming, and if you see something on the television, keep on walking."

In our house, the children often find workarounds to the "no electronics" punishment, so it's easier to ban all screen viewing.

Now I realize some may say we should be doing this every day, and we do to some extent, but let me say, like many we are two parents working from home. It is a day full of homeschool agendas, Zooms, work calls and such; most days, it is nice to let the kids play age-appropriate games or watch television for an hour here and an hour there so my wife and I can actually hold a civil, uninterrupted, low-volume conversation or, even crazier, have a quiet evening. Still, as we well know, this is no ordinary year and these or no typical times, so these "devices," as we call them, can sometimes provide much-needed tranquility in a house.

Funny enough, and I'm sure most parents know how this goes, but you most likely find yourself on the clock as well. Meaning, of course, that either my wife or myself would end up picking up the activity slack and forging forward unless her siblings would be willing to. Nah, forget I said that. I wish we were Pinterest-perfect parents and had an endless arsenal of educational craft and play ideas at our fingertips ready to spring, but alas, we are not, and to lead by example, no phones on our end either. You know, unless we need our phones for pictures, there's always a need for pictures.

So there we were on Saturday morning. Before we even had our coffee in us, she had cleaned her room. Whether this was a veiled attempt at persuasion or not, the fact remained we already had a small victory under our belts. Then we all made breakfast together, got dressed and moved on to arts and crafts, a toilet paper roll glitter-scope to be exact, and then since the day was warm, we ventured outside for a walk and talk. The next few hours were a mix of selling Girl Scout cookies, playing driveway basketball, a few games of Sequence, Battleship, Uno and Don't Break The Ice, a scooter ride, homemade smoothies and so on. Rinse and repeat the next day.

A Sunday stroll, a visit by grandma and grandpa, and the day fell to its typical wind down of dinner and then we even capped it with a surprise nighttime trip to a special event at the zoo (masked and distanced, of course) and at the end of the day, she looked at us exhausted, gave us huge hugs, and asked, "Mommy, Daddy, can we please go another weekend without electronics soon?"

Absolutely my dear.

Sometimes it takes a little shake up in our house to bring back what's natural, normal and not plugged in. We are an adventure family, so we're out and about in nature and activities quite a bit. However, when the grind of a pandemic and a corresponding routine set into our lives, we fell prey to the daily cycle and grind like a lot of parents and people. We were optimistically waiting for that light at the end of the tunnel to arrive like most while letting things slide during the pandemic peculiarity rules.

We periodically fell into the trap of forgetting what normal feels like and rinsed and repeated another day, another sunset, another Zoom, another month, another meal, etc. It took a pair of broken glasses to shine the light again. The light was much brighter.

As much as parents provide optimism and hope for our kids many times, the roles reverse, so I guess I'm truly thankful for those broken sunglasses at the end of the day and most certainly owe my 6-year-old the real apology.

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Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
This. Is. Awesome. "We periodically fell into the trap of forgetting what normal feels like and rinsed and repeated another day, another sunset, another Zoom, another month, another meal, etc. It took a pair of broken glasses to shine the light again. The light was much brighter." BOOM. Thanks for sharing, Michael Kennedy . I just love your perspective!
Tribe
This is so awesome!

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