As a mother I deal with a lot of guilt, small things like:
Are the kid’s lunches too bland?
Is it right that 95% of Rian’s clothes are hand me downs?
I really should bake with the kids and nurture a love of cooking fresh and wholesome food.
Then there are the big guilts;
Do I let them have too much junk food, specifically happy meals… a euphemism if ever there was one; should be called mammy is just not feeling it meals ?
Am I cruel and restrictive to veto my son’s desire for a pink mid-sleeper? I’m reading so much about gender fluidity and I certainly don’t want to inhibit my boys, whatever their preferences but a pink bed? That’s a lot of husband-persuading and I don’t think I have the energy for the gymnastics that may be involved.
The era I grew up in the term screen-time did not even exist. The only media available were TV, radio or the giant stereo system in the good room. My Mam was really strict about the TV and it was not allowed on till late afternoon. When I lived back with my parents for a year after we moved home from Turkey I’d often turn on This Morning and my Mam would arrive downstairs and I’d feel as if I’d been caught watching porn. She’d say “it’s a bit early for putting the TV on” and head into the kitchen and drown out Philip Schofield with Joe Duffy.
As a kid, I had seen handheld TVs in movies, big clunky things with a black and white picture and a large aerial. I marvelled at the technology and wondered would I ever possess something as cutting edge and conducive to my slacker life plan. In my teens I got a gameboy and would spend hours in bed playing Tetris, not much has changed as I now spend hours playing Suduko (I need an intervention or a hobby).
I discovered the baby-sitting abilities of a screen late with Conall. He was 3 and I put him into my bed while I cleaned the floors and put the Bee Movie on. He had spent the previous 3 years attached to my leg or being needy close by and shouting MAM repeatedly. After 15 minutes of silence I peeped into the room and he was enthralled, I wanted to sing and dance with my new found freedom but instead cleaned the house from top to bottom. He watched that movie till it wore out and I had to replace it and then came Monsters Inc, followed by Toy Story. Koray was born and Conall now had a little portable DVD player and it allowed me to feed the baby and change those never ending messy yellow baby poos in peace. As Koray grew, he wanted to watch movies but that ended badly with him throwing the DVD player down the stairs once because the screen froze (we’ve all had one of those moments). I could do an entire post on cracked screens but if I was to total everything paid out it would upset me greatly. I am currently TV-less as Rian frisbeed a wooden jigsaw at Koray last week who ducked impressively and the screen took the brunt, I suppose a smashed TV was preferable than a trip to Temple Street.
Koray started to take my phone when he was 2 and figured out how to go on youtube and use voice recognition to watch his strange little videos. He began the kinder egg opening obsession that was passed on to his younger brother. He also loved to watch people making cakes. I put the settings to kid friendly and hoped for the best as I now had another demanding little boy needing exclusive mammy time.
In the meantime Conall had discovered Minecraft and he got an Xbox for Christmas and loved to play. This led him to youtube where he watched guys like Stampy Longhead (nose) and Dan TDM narrate the games they were playing. These guys have 6 and a half and 8 million subscribers respectively. Who knew this could be a career choice? You sit on your ass at home and video yourself playing games and post it online… this certainly wasn’t discussed by my guidance counselor. (Possibly something similar but that required nudity and intimate bleach)
Rian copied Koray and began to watch the insufferable Kinder Egg opening. For the uninitiated there are hundreds/ possibly thousands of youtube videos of adults (and kids) opening kinder after kinder and expressing surprise at the contents. There isn’t much talk of eating the chocolate which concerns me. I couldn’t narrate those videos due to a loathing of thumb rings and a full gob of delicious chocolate. (A little way into that particular career and I wouldn’t find a thumb ring in the land to fit my sausage fingers)
Conall is the trailblazer as the oldest and he is not interested in Pixar movies or the squeaky clean Dan TDM anymore… he wants controversy. He wants JackSepticeye… I love and loathe this guy… his language is fucking shocking and he seems to have bypassed the child settings on youtube by wearing a flat cap and looking 12 years of age. He’s Irish and has 6 and a half million subscribers! He is John Lennon to my son and the reason he wears a flatcap everywhere and says “top o the mornin to you” to everyone (even his headmaster). He is also the reason my 4 year old likes to shout nipple-twisty-fresh at inappropriate times. I berate myself for letting Conall watch him but he will do his homework on the promise of some Jack-time and go to bed early! He works better than Santy-threats.
My children’s bedtime routine now consists of bath, then bed with a fully-charged (they’d better be or the consequences will be Game of Thrones-esque) device. Koray in my bed playing Plants Vs Zombies, Conall in his own watching something highly unsuitable on youtube and Rian in his bed watching netflix. It buys me time to tidy up and I do go take their technology one by one and spend time reading them a story and having snuggles. I seriously don’t know what I would do without my digital babysitters.
I spend most nights in bed obsessing over everything I’ve done wrong that day and promise myself that the next day I will be the best parent I can be, What I don’t take into account are my kids and how their asshole behaviour will diminish me to a gibbering wreck. I sit on the floor to play puzzles with them or take them for a walk and it all degenerates into chaos so for now I’ll take the help in whatever form it comes in…After all, Conall says he wants to be a youtuber when he grows up and while this doesn’t match my plans of him becoming a neurosurgeon, the pay would be better and in the meantime he is building an invaluable vocabulary.