We used to declare No-Screen Days pretty often, as much as once a week for a while. But it has been a long time since we imposed one on ourselves. And what were we thinking, choosing a lazy, at-home day with nothing much planned?
Since we got back from Calgary, the middle two kids have been practicing enthusiastically during the day, rather than waiting for the evening, and have developed the habit of plopping themselves in front of the TV each evening. It was weird and a little frightening to watch these kids, who normally go weeks or months without ever thinking to turn the TV on, zoned out for hours on the living room floor. The one thing that has given me some peace with the high levels of computer use has always been the fact that the kids, despite no parental limits, rarely watch TV. But there they were ... zoned ...
We talked about whether it was becoming a habit, rather than a choice. Somehow our discussion turned to the idea of trying a No-Screen Day. I suppose to see how addicted we were. So yesterday we got up and didn't turn on the computers.
Erin was fine. She practiced ... at least 3 hours of violin, and a good bit on piano as well. Sophie was fine. She practiced, she communed with the outdoors, checked on the chicken-and-egg situation regularly, and read. Fiona was fine. She'll happily do whatever anyone else is doing. Chuck was fine -- he was at work, of course, and exempt from the no-screen rule by virtue of necessity. Noah and I had our challenges, though. Both of us tend to default to the computer at moments when there's nothing more pressing or enticing. For me, those moments are not constant -- I have all the houseworky things that I do try to keep up on. (I try, I really do...) But I kept thinking "aha! bread's rising in the pans, and I've got the laundry on the line, now I'll just put these jars in the basement and then sit down for a few minutes at the computer." Or "gotta use up these eggs -- I'll just have a look on the 'net for a good quiche recipe." Or "ah, that's a good hour of viola practice. Now I get a few minutes to relax on the computer." I had to pull myself up many times through the day. I confess it was a challenge.
And Noah. He's the kid who sometimes finds the 5-hour-a-day computer limit he's set up for himself on WatchdogPC to be painfully restrictive. He didn't cheat or complain, but there was a fair bit of theatrical and amusing wailing and gnashing of teeth. He really had to push himself to find things to do to fill his time. He actually napped, twice. He read a book. And he wandered around, throwing himself in chairs and couches and doing goofy time-wasting things. Like lying on the couch playing Fiona's sixteenth-sized violin for the better part of an hour. (see above)
If nothing else, having a No-Screen Day has brought the issue of balancing our sedentary/electronic and active/non-electronic activities back onto the front burner. Which is where it needs to be for a while, I think. There's been a big empty space in our lives since all the intense summer busyness of music workshops ended.
Speaking of summer music workshop intensity, Erin commented yesterday that she'd like to attend music workshops all year long, not just three weeks of the year. Her ideal, she said, would be a boarding school that was Suzuki-music-based. But no, that wouldn't work, because it would still be a school, so they'd make you do essays and algebra homework and multiple-choice tests on 20th century European history. So it would have to be an Suzuki Music Boarding Free School. A boarding school because obviously we don't have the population or faculty to support such a school here. An Free School so that you could just do music, and whatever else interested you, but nothing more, all day every day. For advanced Suzuki students from the age of 12 on up who are firmly committed to an educational environment free of cooercion. Maybe in Calgary. I think if we can sign on 300 other students, we could make this fly. Any takers?