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The Price of Peace

Don’t panic, this is not a political statement.  I’m talking about the price of a little peace and quiet.  And the lengths two weary parents will go to, to achieve it.

After spending last week at the Mayo Clinic, and being completely ill prepared with activities for the children and ALL THE DRIVING and ALL THE WAITING, we took a different approach this week.

Last week when we discovered we would have to spend far more time at the hospital than anticipated, we stopped and asked a helpful looking elderly woman behind a desk if there was a playground, or play area that we could take out children to.

She looked a tad confused for a moment, and then as if she suddenly thought of a grand idea, she offered, “Well, we have a pond with live creatures in it!”

Blink, blink.

Uh.  Allrightythen.

She may as well have said, “Well, there’s a nearby highway, perhaps they could chase some cars!” Because in Florida, “live creatures” is code for CHILDREN-EATING ALLIGATORS.

So in order to prepare for the trip we took earlier this week, we did the unthinkable.  No, we didn’t use the duct tape.  That’s reserved for home repair.  We purchased a Nintendo DS for each of them.  Merry Christmas.  In September.

I swore up and down that I would not stoop to doing that.  I mean, we grew up in an era of long car trips, and we amused ourselves with books, and toys, and the super fun game of dodge mom’s hand when she reached back to swat us.

In our parenting defense, we did set a time limit of 20 minutes to play at a time.  And interspersed in the car trip was homeschool work, reading and drawing time, and the super fun game of dodging dad’s hand when he reaches back to swat at the offspring.  (Remember, mom usually has the pleasure of swatting the air, but my arms are indisposed for the time being.)

People, it was as if we had indeed installed the plexiglass partition in the van for those blessed 20 minutes.  That partition I’ve been talking about inventing since, well, becoming a parent to 3 children.

The children also had to wait for lengthy amounts of time in waiting rooms, ALONE, while Fiddledaddy accompanied me to important meetings with doctors.  Of course, Fiddledaddy would often excuse himself during said meetings if he detected the slightest smell of smoke…

After one meeting, we came back to the crowded waiting area to find our children happily playing their respective Nintendo DS games.  Prompting a fellow patient to stop us and tell us how well behaved our children are.

Fiddledaddy came to an abrupt stop, nearly causing me to catapult out of the wheelchair.  “Seriously?  Our children?” And then we offered profuse thank you’s and hightailed it out of there before she changed her mind.

We have learned that mercifully, we don’t have to go back up to the Mayo next week and the week after, as was originally planned.  And since I know that I can’t get away with confiscating the games and wrapping them up for Christmas, I’ll simply use them as a reward system.

Or whenever I need a little respite from the chaos.

Because really, you cannot put a price on peace.

14 Responses to The Price of Peace

  • Ah, yes. I well remember when this “my child will not watch Barney” mom caved. My 18 month old decided to throw a tantrum when we were coming in the door from the store. It was his first (and last at least until he was 11) and I was like “what is wrong with you?” I left him screaming on the floor and turned on the TV. Turned out Barney was coming on. He immediately stopped screaming and got up and sat quietly on the couch watching. Needless to say I quickly became a Barney fan! It is amazing the lengths we moms will go to for a little peace and quiet 🙂

  • I have to say that I agree that electronic babysitters are a God-send, at times. Please understand that I employ them, so this warning is a result of that.

    It is a slippery slope my friend! Habits develop all too quickly and things seem to “jump” out at you that require peace. Next thing you know you’ll be finding your kids unable to deal with each other because too much of a good thing? Never good. (And it is amazing how “little” too much is.)

  • My hubs used to call it ‘putting up the invisible force field’…hey, you do what you have to do.

  • We got our son one for his last birthday (5) and when we use it, it is wonderful. It has gotten us through many long car rides and dr. appts. As well as helping him get through the first couple weeks of allergy shots. I know it is going to be a life saver when we drive to Disney World from NJ in November.

    I think as long as you stick to your rules and not cave, they can be great!!

  • Ahh yes, we have a tv, dvd player and a gamecube in our van. They are only used on long trips. We drive to Minnesota every summer to visit relatives and it helps make the trip go a little quicker. We have rules and other things must be done along the way but we love those moments of quiet.

  • We submitted years ago. I find, having girls, it’s hit and miss. They either were (are for the 13 year old still) really into a game and play it a lot. Or they totally ignore it for months on end. I don’t have boys, but my friends that do have had to put much tighter controls on it.

    Your story about the kids in the waiting room reminds me of once when we were shopping. We were in Costco and the youngest was being really naughty. She had been disciplined 2 or 3 times by the time we got to the free samples. She went up and politely asked an older gentleman for a sample and said “Thank you” after. He started going on and on about what a polite, well behaved child she was. Dh and I muttered “thank you” and got around the corner really quickly, where I said “He hasn’t see the 3 times we’ve beat her into submission”. That was probably 8 years ago and I still think about it when she is getting samples in Costco! =)

    Hope you find some answers and relief soon!

  • My girls are 19 and 17 now but when they were about 9 or 10 we were on a trip that took about 2 hours. They chose that day to bicker back and forth, after enduring 20 minutes of this I offered 1 dollar to the child that could be the quietest the longest. There was not a peep from either of them until we reached our destination. I gave them both a dollar, it was well worth 2 dollars for peace and quiet.

  • We bought our girl a DS and it was the best present EV-ER! She loved it. We love it. She likes to play with it and it comes in super handy for waiting rooms, car rides and when she just needs to unwind a little bit. Hers broke a while back and we replaced it the very next day! : )

  • My grandsons (age 12 and 11) have all the gizmos, but they have to keep them at my house. My daughter doesn’t allow them at her house. So when they come to see me on the weekends, they play to their hearts’ content. We bought a DS for my Mother last year and she plays ‘Brain Age’. She loves it. The only great-grandmother I know with her own Nintendo DS. I have the most wonderful picture of her curled up on the couch with my oldest grandson, playing their games together. Enjoy the peace when it comes.

  • In an effort to cut back on the endless DS playing time, I’ve begun to allow the boys to do extra chores to earn DS time. No chores? No DS.

    When they do the extra chores, this method allows me to employ child labor MUCH more effectively thereby increasing my relaxation time in a (fairly) clean house. Win win!

  • Oh, the technology is a beautiful thing sometimes… 🙂

  • I will use anything to bribe/blackmail my kids. We got all the boys cheap MP3 and Hubby and I actually had a conversation while in the van WITH THE KIDS. There may have been a tear or 5 from me from all the happy. It was so nice and quiet. At least it was until they all started singing along – to different songs – each. The happy left after that. But it was nice while it lasted.

  • I can understand the caving! Waiting rooms are not fun! I’m glad you didn’t let your kids get eaten by alligators! 🙂 (What would you blog about?)

    We’ve been listening to books on CD for our car trips. Jonathan Park (from Vision Forum) has been a favorite too. We’d probably listen to Adventures in Odyssey if we had more! It’s hard to find choices that will interest each one though. I’m waiting for the day they actually check to see if the DVD player in our minivan works (I said it didn’t once my oldest read on it what it was) OR if we’ll cave and check it out! 🙂 We’ll see.

  • When our 5-year old was airlifted to the Arkansas Children’s hospital with two types of anemia and we faced weeks of testing and waiting, we caved and bought a GameBoy for our then 9 year old. It was truly a God send for all of us and brightened up one sick and the other anxious boys. Glad to hear those addictive little handheld devices still save the day.