Thursday, February 19, 2009

Angst, Woe and a Binding Contract

The other evening, Max, Tracy and I had a blow out. Max has always had a restricted amount of time that he is allowed to play video games each day. Over time, our rules have evolved and Max has earned the privilege of more time, as well as the opportunity to earn even more time by getting good grades. One of the responsibilities that goes along with that is keeping a log of how much time he has used in a given day. We have a notebook kept for that purpose and periodically it is checked. For several check-ins now the log has been sketchy at best and we have reiterated the necessity for keeping the log filled in. Our most recent check revealed that he had not filled in anything at all for three weeks.

We grounded him from his video games, and he proceeded to protest vehemently. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, admission of lying about his play time, debates and greater punishments. Exhausted, we all went to bed. 

The next day, he was quiet. Much time was spent alone. I presumed he was texting his friends and complaining about his terribly strict and unfair parents. Later in the day, he watched a movie, made cookies with me, spent some time with his sister, and went to a friends house. An improvement I thought. My heart felt crumpled though. The admitted lies, the yelling, the crying, it all took it's toll on me. In the end, Max was finding it difficult to find things to do with his time, outside of homework and jobs, that was not a video game. Many of his friends play hours and hours on end. Our town is not conducive to random bike riding and his friends live farther than what is able to be walked on safe roads. His favorite sport activities are skiing and paintball, which are expensive and can only be done occasionally. Thus, high frustration.

Today he handed over a contract titled, "Contract for Success and Happiness." He had apparently written it in his quiet time the previous day. Wow, what a contract. Two pages, titled paragraphs, various named parties. It was so... professional. I was impressed. What a unique and great answer to our problems from a 14-year old. In short, he was offering to take on more responsibility if we'd be willing to compromise on the computer time issue. 

We're currently in negotiations. :)

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