As I alluded to the other day,its tricky during lock down. The children are gradually driving me up the wall. In many ways they remind me of Boris Johnson in so much as they’re all about the getting and are bored when they’ve got the thing they were after. With Boris it was the premiership, with the kids it’s some item, game, point scoring thing over the other two that soon gets forgotten.
Take the paddling pool*, I’ve spent more time inflating that and filing it in the last four days than the kids have spent in it. They spend ages threatening each other to not play nicely in it, brinkmanship of the highest order. And then, eventually two of them get into it and three minutes later they get the hump with each other because someone splashed someone or someone wouldn’t do what the other demanded at that exact moment, oh and have I forgotten to mention that none of them will have a towel to hand and will demand nine showers during the course of their intermittent use of the pool? Do not get me started.
There is only one way to deal with this behaviour and it’s the cowards way out for me. I go out for a long walk during my lunch break, take my time tidying up after dinner, and then watch something entirely child unfriendly with my wife after dinner. We’re currently on to season 3 of the Strain. It’s not great but it’s unsuitable for the kids which makes it much better than it might be otherwise.
I think part of the problem is the kids have never really got the hang of entertaining themselves. Things were a bit different when we were little; three, then four channels of terrestrial TV, one rich kid in the class who’s parents got a Squarial for British Satellite Broadcasting satellite TV, and a home computer that would only be usable in the front room plugged into the telly, all of which had to be packed away in time for Blue Peter and after dinner you had no chance of stopping your parents from watching Wogan.
Our kids can do one of two things: play video games independently or require full on one to one supervision to do something trivial for five minutes. Drawing a picture? Nope, one of us needs to sit next to them and watch them doing it. It is ridiculous and a conditioning we need to break but at the moment we had situations like Sunday where I turned the 8 year old’s internet off at 2pm because he’d played enough games. He then lay in the middle of the sitting room floor, saying it was only a 5 hour wait until he could go to bed and please don’t disturb him thank you very much. The others are no better, following you around wanting to help but only by doing exactly what you’re doing with the things your using and bursting into tears if you suggest maybe they should do something independent for more than 8 seconds.
Still, I’m okay, I’ve remembered that the kids are bored with difficult and old fashioned video games. Despite helping me create a blog on the subject, Kids Do Retro, even the eldest isn’t interested.
On the one hand this is annoying as it’s nice to share a hobby but on the other hand, it means I can legitimately fire up my Raspberry Pi 4 with Retropie on it and the kids will lose interest and bugger off somewhere else for a while. I should count my blessings really shouldn’t I? When I was little I don’t think I ever really got bored. Aside from that small window on Sunday morning when I wasn’t allowed out because the Sunday roast would be ready at some point but the only thing on the telly was the Waltons (and not any of the spooky supernatural episodes either) and I’d already spent three hours reading my book, I was able to keep myself entertained all the time. Whether it was playing on our Spectrum, re-reading (endlessly) my comics or books, spending hours drawing Dennis the Menace or the Bash St Kids, or being out on my bike playing with my mates, I was never bored.
Oh well. I’m off to fire up Dungeon Master for a bit to keep the kids out of my hair. Stay sane in Covid Times people.
*please, take it, dear god, why won’t somebody take it?