Kindle be gone.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refereeing the World

While refereeing a particularly brutal game of Shopkins Bingo. I had to keep reminding my children to be graceful in winning and graceful in losing. Never taunt your opponent, never call anyone names and never, ever hit out in anger.

I don’t like cheaters and I find gloating a very unattractive quality. Especially adults who do these thing to children. What are they teaching them? Yes, I get that a lot of people do this in jest and don’t get me wrong i’m a sarcastic little bitch at times. Especially with my own siblings and husband, as they are with me too. But being all grown up now makes things a little easier Tone of voice can be easily felt, as can the cheeky smiles be seen.

My eldest brother used to (actually maybe still does) take great pleasure in taunting me for my weird ways. For example, when in my teens I had varying hair colours (still do) but obviously being younger there were some really, really, wrong ones – Bleach blond with blue streaks is so not me! Perm over bleach, who knew it fries your hair and means you have to shave it off? not me! Around the age of…say…16 when the crazy hormones and  major self-consciousness has really kicked in my brother comes in to the living-room with a very please look on his face. In his hand he clutched a booklet that he had taken some time to create. The booklet in question was called ‘Laura’s Locks. It had a number of pages with a photo of me on each, looking like I had been attacked by a pack of hairdressing hyenas. Each page came with some sarcastic caption to make me feel fantastic. As you have guessed these pieces of paper set my bitch look on fire (I get that from my mum!) lasers shot out of my eyes, instantly killing him. Or maybe that is just what I wanted to happen at the time. In actually fact I just gave him evil looks, said something stupid in a whiny voice and stomped off in a huff.

(I’ve totally rambled off topic to state that my brother was mean and I was the victim of sibling torture!*)

My thoughts while trying to teach my children about fair play and good sportsmanship led me to thinking about the upcoming presidential election. I watch sometimes with my jaw dropped at how truly childish, mean and selfish Donald Trump acts. I’m not overly informed politically. Even less so since moving to America, where the news is utter nonsense. But I know Trumped up little shit bag when I see one.

Take a trip back 60 or so years and you can imagine him being every parents nightmare play date. You can actually see the terrified look upon anyone and everyone’s face when they hear the words”would you look after my little Donald, it’ll only be for an hour or two!” – Run, run for the fecking hills. Although I’m sure he had nannies and plenty of hookers to play with from a very young age.

My mind is littered with visions where Trump, Cameron and Putin (to name a few) play roulette with the worlds future.

I think to myself on a daily bases ‘for the love of humanity, don’t vote for him’

*(I gave as good as I got and now we are the best of friends)