McCOOK, Nebraska -- I once referred to the "forbidden fruit snack" and Declan's insatiable craving for the candy that is oh so cleverly disguised as something else. I eventually won the war against the dreaded sugar-packed snack and can now safely maneuver my shopping cart past them in the grocery store, without my son turning into something akin to a raving cookie monster.
I am unable to relish much in the absence of the addictive power of the fruit snack though, seeing how my young man has simply moved onto a new digital passion. Thus begins the era of the video game for me.
It is not uncommon for his first words of the day to be, while still rubbing his eyes and struggling to force them open, "Can I play the Xbox?"
I pick him up after school and he jumps into my arms, historically his words at that point were, "I missed you today!" Now they are "Can I play games when we get home?"
I must now take great care in the selection of games he is allowed to play and have even restricted most all "game-time" to the weekends. Our household gaming laws were developed after several "coincidental" incidents on the school or daycare playground, that I suspect were connected to one karate-chop laden video game or another.
I try to keep my standing policy that he is allowed only limited time on his Leapster Explorer during school nights, as I am actually able to customize the vocabulary and spelling words it utilizes to fit his current list from school.
Yes, it does serve to ease my guilt on those evenings when I don't have the time or energy to do our self-imposed homework together, but I am finding it to have some value as an educational tool as well. That is, of course, on those evenings when I didn't have to visit with his teacher after school about his behavior.
The rationing of video games has also quickly turned into one of my most powerful and effective bargaining chips, in terms of rewarding him for good behavior. The whole scenario is a chess game, much like most of parenting, and one I am admittedly still not that good at but will continue to play.
This past weekend Declan was playing a chess game of his own on our laptop as I folded clothes. He startled me by jumping to his feet and yelling with gusto at the top of his lungs, "Yes! Yes! I am bicktorious!" I started chuckling at his enthusiasm and he turned his excitement to me, hands still in the air. "Dad look," pointing at the computer screen, "I am bicktorius," he growled, flexing his arms in the air like a professional wrestler.
He calmed, took a breath and then cocked his head at me like a curious puppy, "What is bicktorious?" he questioned. I looked over at the computer screen to see a banner crossing it that read "You are victorious!"