I am a mean mommy. I don't let my kids play video games, handheld or otherwise, on school days. On Fridays, I let Ben bring his DS to play on the school bus. His friends bring their game players every day, something Ben often points out.
But Ben has also accepted this rule of mine. Maybe because I choose prime moments to explain my motives. For example, one night he was playing Wii for about 45 minutes before dinner. When it was time to shut it off to come eat, he got loud and combative. When the answer was still "time for dinner. Turn it off," he got whiny. And so, like any good mother, over dinner I explained the connection between his jumpy, crack-addict behavior and what the light-speed action on his video game does to his brain. To have to go from dodging speeding dragons, cars and other flying objects all while trying to capture gold coins and not die, to a quiet family dinner is like slamming your brain into a brick wall. (Some may offer that sitting down to ANY family dinner is like slamming one's brain into a brick wall, but that's another post for another day).
He didn't like the answer, but one thing about Ben is that he's very attuned to his body. When he feels *that* uncomfortable, but can understand a possible connection to a cause, he'll go with it.
No, I don't offer any scientific studies or stats for my argument. It just seems logical to me, and I guess it seems logical to Ben because he doesn't question it. Even if it's not about understanding his body, I think he at least likes having an understanding of why his mother sets such stupid rules.
So on a recent Wednesday, I picked Ben and a friend up from school. I handed each of them a bag of Transformers fruit snacks, which they promptly opened. DS game in his lap, his friend asked me why Ben isn't allowed to bring is DS to school.
"I am allowed, on Fridays," Ben answered before I could. Then he commented on the character his fruit snack was and asked his friend which character he got.
"I never really notice the characters," he said.
And that made me smile. Because Ben notices EVERYTHING. He always has, and still does. I can't say for certain that it's because I withhold video games. But knowing that he doesn't have something in his pocket to distract him from his world all the time is enough scientific proof for me that I'm making the right choice. No matter how mean a mommy it makes me.