“We need,” they said, “a watch. And not just any watch, we need a Fitbit or a Garmin!”
‘Need,’ it must be noted, was in ALL CAPS, ITALICIZED, BOLD.
Despite the fact that I myself received a Garmin for my birthday only a year ago, it was obvious that I was a bad mother – A TERRIBLE MOTHER – for not giving my boys, ages 6 and 9, expensive pieces of high-tech gadgetry by which they could not only tell me how late I’m dropping them off at school, but by which they could also achieve social status!
It’s amazing, though, how Santa can be steamrolled by an adorable wish list, Kindergarten coquetry, the batting of a 3rd graders’ eyes - how in the magic of the season, high on sugar cookies, the Big Guy (or Gal) caves in to such material shenanigans.
And so that’s how it came to be that on December 25th, at approximately 11am (when I’d ingested enough caffeine to do things called “downloading” and “syncing”), that my children were encouraged to GET FIT and EARN ACTIVITY POINTS and COUNT THEIR STEPS.
At 11:05am, as the boys began their third lap around the living room, waving their arms frantically, I realized that my children who never stopped moving had just received gifts that encouraged them to never stop moving. And that it was a competition to see who could never stop moving the most and the best.
“Why are you waving your arms?” I yelled, as they circled a 5th time.
“You get more activity points when you move all your limbs!” my eldest shrieked, ecstatically.
I felt woozy, faint. I clutched my husband’s arm for support.
“What have we done?” I whispered in horror.
My husband jumped into action. “That’s enough boys! Let’s watch some TV, how about your favorite show? No more laps, cut it out! THAT’S ENOUGH!” The boys stood in place as the cartoon came on, I held my breath.
“Oh, I like this episode!” my 6-year-old said, as he began to march quickly in place.
“Me too!” agreed the 9-year-old starting to do some jumping jacks, “I’ve got 2,475 steps already.”
“Yeah, well I’ve got more, I know it!” his brother replied, starting to run a lap again.
And then it hit me. I looked at my husband, who was slowly grabbing his jacket and putting on his shoes. He got it too. We were going to have to grab these Bits by the balls and wrestle the fit right out of them. True, they would be soccer balls, lacrosse balls, and footballs, but weren’t going to let our kids go through this alone. We would get those goddamn activity points with them, in a place that didn’t involve our coffee table or sofa.
It was a conspiracy, it seemed to me, to control my downtime, to eliminate any peace and quiet save for the constant “just one more lap, just one more step!”
As an intervention of Dr. Drew proportions seemed imminent, I discovered the “chores” section of the kids’ watches. The chores section is a high-tech chart of earning rewards that doesn’t involve printers, highlighters, stickers, or anything hanging on your refrigerator.
Well, bless my soul.
And here I was ready to quit the Fit. I see now that an intervention can wait until I’ve harnessed my children’s energy in a new and more positive direction. I can only hope that their constant movement might be towards taking the trash out. Maybe their competitive natures will have them dueling over perfectly folded laundry! No, before these wee bands of devil energy go gently into that good junk drawer, they will be charting those chores against the dying of their battery life.
In these high-tech medieval times, I will offer my boys gold coins for each chore, and in return they can exchange those gold coins for screen time, toys, candy. A barter system where everyone has the potential to get what they want!
True, I do feel like Vizzini trying to control Fezzik, about to get my head smashed in with a rock at any moment, but on the other hand, both the Garmin and my children fell victim to one of the classic blunders: never go in against a mother when the death of her free time is on the line.