Computer time and contest.

First, the contest. It's not mine, it's over at Tollipop, who draws the sweetest little girls.  Her prints are my new favorite baby gift, and she's having a fun giveaway to celebrate her one blog's one year anniversary.  Check it out, but quickly--the deadline is Friday night.  

And now, I finally figured out the source of my unease with all the time I spend on the computer, particularly during the day. Let me say upfront that in retrospect this is completely obvious, but I guess I'm a little slow. 

I initially thought the issue was about how much attention I'm supposed to give Finn during the day--figuring out how to spend the time we have together isn't as straightforward as I expected. Oh sure, there are days when it literally fills every minute just to help him get to sleep, feed him, and change him, and if we get to stop in at the store to pick up something for dinner, we're lucky. But most days, his routine flows along rather well and we have time to fill, which is when we do things like go to the park, go to playrooms, go to Kindermusik or Gymboree. And sometimes, we're just at home, and he's playing while I'm on the computer: checking email, uploading photos, scanning the headlines, reading my favorite blogs, looking up a recipe for dinner, etc. I try to keep interacting during this time, talking about what I'm reading or stopping to play with the ball or to take whatever he's holding out for me, and he's always been a pretty independent little guy, happy to play by himself for fairly long stretches. So even though I thought this might be the issue with computer time, that it's taking away too much of my attention, I don't think it is.

  My discomfort, I realized, isn't about how much of the day he has (or doesn't have) my undivided attention, it's about what I'm doing during the time that he doesn't have my undivided attention. It is only more clear to me every day how much he learns from watching and imitating us, and I don't want him to mainly see us spending time on the computer. As wonderful a resource as the internet and computers in general are, I want his life to be full and rich, and for computers to be a great way to do the things he loves--read, write, look at photos, etc.--not to *be* the initial love. Does that make sense? 

I want him to love cooking and washing dishes (yes! bring on the dish-washing baby!) and watering plants and reading books and writing on paper and knitting and drawing and strumming and singing, and I want him to see these things as the stuff of our daily lives, not as special activites or projects we pull out for holidays. And so I have to make sure that that is, indeed, what our lives are made of. I'm not talking about reinventing myself, or doing things that I wouldn't normally do. I'm just saying that I want to be more intentional in the hours he's awake and watching, so he sees me doing the things I really want him to do.

Sounds so simple. Why did it take so long to formulate that thought? 


DeAne said...


I think you are absolutely right about the oddity of doing all those fine activities at the remove of the keyboard and screen. Somehow the task is accomplished, but some of the pleasure of doing them is lost by the electronic mediation. The one exception that comes quickly to mind: keeping the check book.


vEnessa said...

Greetings from the Upper Valley!

Miss you all--hugs and more hugs.

Continued Blessings, vEnessa

foodsmith said...

oh, vEnessa--thanks, and hugs to you. Has spring come yet? We miss the Upper Valley more than we ever expected--the landscape, the beauty, and of course, the people. Hope you are well--


foodsmith said...

Yes, and given what I've spent the last few weekends doing, I would taxes to that.

Jeff Forster said...

FWIW, Monte, I had no idea where you were going with this until the big reveal in the fourth paragraph. That means a) I've never thought about that misgiving and b) it's not obvious. So don't beat yourself up about not figuring it out. It's a good thing to bear in mind.

We struck upon a rule early with Charlie (quite arbitrarily) that he could watch a DVD no more frequently than every other day. Since we started before his protest muscles had fully developed, soon we had this conversation
C: "Can I watch a DVDV (sic)?"
Parent: "No, you watched one yesterday"
C: "Oh yeah"

We use this with video games, too, and video games are always accompanied by a timer. The long-term upshot is that our kids ask for DVDs and video games *less often* than every other day. They do a ton of imaginative play with cars and legos and balls and drawing on paper.

I realize I'm now extending beyond your original point of the example you set when you sit at the computer, but it's in that same spirit of life being lived both with hands on and off the keyboard.