Maybe you can help, gentle readers, with the following folks and their very real problems:
1) Why can't my wife be more understanding? Sure, I have extra-marital affairs. I travel a lot. I have a few different women I see in each city I visit. What does that have to do with my wife? She has the three young children to take care of. What does she care what I do when I'm out of town?
Okay, so maybe I brought home an STD and she caught it. But I apologized. What else am I supposed to do? And I paid for a good doctor for her to go to. What more does she want? I make a good living. Isn't that enough? Why can't she understand that I just like women and that I want to have sex with as many of them as possible?
2) Why won't my six-year-old read more books? We have lots of books in the house. My husband and I even went on-line to buy "age-appropriate" books, whatever those are. Sure we let our son play "League of Legends" on his Ipad. Of course we let him watch whatever videos he wants whenever he wants on the same device. Yes, he plays on the iPad every minute of every day. But wouldn't you think he'd get tired of all those electronics and want to learn how to read?
His stupid first grade teacher told us the other day that the only way we could get Percy to learn to read would be to take away the device and the video games. Is she crazy? Does she know what it's like to live with this kid when he doesn't get to play on his iPad? He fusses like you wouldn't believe.
Still, I followed her absurd advice. I took away the device just the other day. Percy refused to go to bed. It was after 11:00 at night and he had to be up the next day for school. So I took away the iPad and made him go to bed. I held my ground: "No, you cannot 'just finish one more level'" I said.
But then the next morning when he woke up, he just wanted to play the game some more. So of course I let him. Otherwise, he wouldn't eat his breakfast. And we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Anyway, he was without his device for almost eight hours--practically the whole time he was asleep. I took away the game just like the teacher said. But it didn't seem to help. He still wants to play violent video games on the iPad all day. He still doesn't want to learn how to read.
Ah, if it were only so simple. If only our own issues with our own families were as obvious and straight-forward as those of the two speakers above.
At the risk of explaining the joke, I cannot help but point out how unlikely it is that the man in the first scenario is going to have a committed, meaningful, fulfilling relationship with his wife. Not while he's carrying on with all those other women in all those other towns. An apology about transmitting an STD just isn't going to cut it. Similarly, the mother in the second example is not going to bring up a child who loves reading and loves learning if she gives in to the terrorist demanding that he suckle on screens hour after hour day after day. Taking away the device while the child sleeps doesn't begin to address the issue.
My concern about our ability to bring up children who love to read is a common theme in these columns. We have no longitudinal research about the cognitive capability of 50-somethings who endlessly played violent video games as children because there were no violent video games when we were children. But what about the broader point of folks who are "living a lie," doing that which is obviously contrary to the interests of their children?
And what about you? And what about me? Is there something in our lives as parents that is so glaringly, blatantly, screechingly obvious that everyone sees it except us?
"I don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish." I don't know about you, but I'm going to be on the lookout for water. If there is something that I'm doing wrong with my kids I'm going to think about it in an intentional way, try to find out what it is, and correct it. In the meantime, I'm going to make sure that the number of my extramarital affairs remains equal to the number of hours I allow my young children to play violent video games.