Road trips with young ones are just not what the used to be and I blame the invention of tablets. Up until last Christmas we did not own a tablet, or that’s a lie, I did, but it was mine and the little rats were not getting their filthy paws on it. Then along came amazon with a deal…$35 for a kindle fire. How could I refuse? Number one was getting older and as much I had resisted the electronic madness there comes a time when you have to let them enter that world. But you can’t get one child something without getting the others the same…Right? So before I knew it there were three Kindles all wrapped up and under the tree. The kids seemed easy about it start, only playing in them every so often. Still interested in all their other toys and actually socialising with one another. But slowly, slowly the beast grew and now I don’t have any idea how to moderate this unruly monster that I, myself brought though the door.
For me, sometimes it’s an easy out. I need to make dinner or clean the house in peace so out comes the tablets. In the past few months I’ve become unceasingly lackadaisical, handing it over to stop the constant whine “Mum, can I have my Kindle?” “Mum, when can I have my Kindle?” “Mum, Mummy, Mum, I really need the Kindle!” Then there’s the harrowing screams when the battery runs out, I always think someone is close to death. The arguments the ensue when one kid realises that one of the others have 100% battery but theirs only has 98%. But when will the madness stop? What’s a mum to do? The husband I have had talks about how to moderate it, how to give them a little but not make it so they are like shit faced junkies waiting for their next hit. Do we time it? just an hour a day? or only allow it at weekends? The guidelines on these things are ever changing and I can’t keep up.
We don’t take them to use them out of the house (The kindles, we do take the children out of the house!) unless we are travelling. Which brings me back to road trips. This past Thanksgiving week we spent a lot of time in the car. We drove up to Sacramento, which is about a six hour drive but then add in dinner and toilet breaks, we talking more seven hours. So the Kindles came with. It was great to start, they played happily, still talking to one another, requesting Alicia Keys to be on the stereo constantly. And may I point out the The Element of Freedom was released in 2009 – I mean seriously, I thought it was about two years ago, what happened to those years?
While in Sacramento (the state capital of California), we looked around the amazing old town, which has a history with the Gold rush in 1848. The area has 53 historic buildings and is registered as a national and California historic landmark. It also has a darker side, and was once known as the worst skid row west of Chicago. Today is it still super rough around the edges. Due to it’s river location it is very industrial with lots of edgy graffiti on disused buildings running the length of river from our hotel to tower bridge. Perfect for a rock band photo shoot! But the area still has a huge homeless population, it pains me to see so many people wandering around, kicking the dirt, looking completely lost when you know that they should be receiving real medical help. I guess the cost of medications and healthcare will make it nearly impossible for these people to stand a chance.
A friend recommended that we take a trip to the rail museum, which is located in the old town. The place was filled with historic trains and employees in costume who had the knowledge to answered every question. The carriages were filled with artifacts, and placed on moving platforms that swayed gently, so you really get a feel what it would be like to travel in these trains back when they were operational. The play area for kids had…yip…trains. They could watch the vintage train sets bimbling around in their vintage tracks, then play with the wooden trains. Pretty much a perfect day out for anyone. Even if you’re not a trainspotter(which I am not!) But throughout the day I heard the word Kindle, 700 million times. They kids dreamed of the drive back to L.A. so that they can play their bloody kindles. The immediate moment was lost. Screw the trains, who gives a shit about historic train or even playing for that matter when there is a Kindle sitting in a hotel room all lonely and sad. How could we have left them there? What if someone breaks in and steals their precious box of plastic and microchips.
The journey home was quiet, apart from the cogs of my brain ticking around trying to work out a solution that will end this madness.
A few days later we were headed to Carlsbad for the night. I was quite excited, having seen friends photos for the area. It always looks beautiful with lovely beaches and desperate housewives style homes. And yeah, the Kindles came with…they needed to experience the beach life too…right?! While driving down the freeway I noticed a massive building wrapped up like a giant Christmas present, with a freaking huge red bow on top…I tried and tried to get the kids attention but their eyes were glued to their screens. How could they miss such an amazing Christmas miracle? The bow itself was about 3 stories high. What the hell were they thinking? How can Plants vs Zombies or slither.io be better then a giant bow on a building? ugh I give up!
I’d love to tell you that Carlsbad was as good as I expected but the weather was crap, with two storms headed our way. We pretty much hid in our hotel room watching out the window as other hotel residents took pictures of the palm trees blowing sideways. The next afternoon we had a cold, windy walk on the beach. Then lunch at Benihanas before enduring another quiet ride home.
This past week I’ve come to the conclusion that, I’ve had enough, no child of mine is going to miss the craziness that is America. Or miss the songs we can sing, the chatting that we can do. The good family times that we are missing out on due to a $35 piece of plastic. But now comes the hard part…weaning them off. I’ve had a few people who don’t have children telling me that they would just lay down the law. Which is lovely and slightly naive. I want to understanding their needs and really, Jacob and I are the only ones who have to live with that crap, so a full cut off may not be the right thing!
So, What’s the right thing to do? What are the limits? What do you all do?
I’m wondering if a mysterious ant colony may invade the house and eat up or carry off the kindles! That’s a totally realistic reason for their disappearance, right?