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Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Ancient Mariner

Where is my compass when I need it?

Or should that rather be a sexton? Or a map?

But I have learned one new thing; anxiety is contagious, or should that be infectious?

My older son’s obsession with the passage of time has grown to gargantuan proportions. I am unable to field his constant question, ‘how long until electronics?’ Nothing distracts him from the passing seconds displayed on the timer. He carries it around with him and glances at the figures with every breath. I’m not sure if I’m anxious or just plain ratty at the harassment, but I do know that it’s not healthy for either of us.

We will both be arithmetical athletes if he keeps up at this rate. There are insufficient seconds between the seconds, for me to give any attention to my other children and responsibilities. It is only possible to read a couple of words or part of a line about “Your Anxious Child,” which means that I am no closer to finding an appropriate coping strategy for any of us. “It’s taking too long” he wails, interspersed with “how many minutes until electronics? No, no, no, I mean how many seconds?” He will wear out his vocal chords if he keeps twanging them in the manner. They’re not used to such exercise.

I am in the midst of circular thought patterns myself, when it dawns on me that another cause of concern is that he has also failed to play with his electronics for the last few days. When the designated time, 5:30 p.m. finally arrives, instead of pounding off to grab one of the coveted toys, he ambles around listlessly. After we’ve started our bedtime routine after supper, it occurs to him that he has missed ‘electronics’ time again. I am uncertain how this turn of events has come about?

If we spend another 24 hours like this, I might as well book my spot in a padded cell. There again, that might give me a few minutes to read, learn, strategize and come up with some kind of new campaign, no matter how inadequate it eventually turns out to be. How can he have so many words and yet I have none, or at least not the right ones?

As the timer starts beeping he dashes to my side to wave it around in a storm of ecstasy, “it’s 5:30, it’s electronics time, at last! I thought it would never come! I’m so glad that’s all over with.” He deflates into the sofa with a sigh. “Now I can relax, that’s so much better.”

His fingers turn the pages of one of the manuals to one of his games, as he studies the pictures and instructions.

"Um.....aren't you going to play with your...Gameboy.....or something?" I offer tentatively now that he appears to be at peace.
"Nah!.....whatever," he adds with all the charm of a teenager. Whatever! Whatever? Don't you 'whatever' me matey! We have endured an entire day, second by second, and now all we have is 'whatever!' I am unfamiliar with 'young people speak,' but even I know that this roughly translates to 'it is a trifle of no consequence.' Where is all this 'young people speak' coming from? 'A trifle of no consequence' does not match today's experience. I am completely mystified, a condition which I believe is rapidly becoming my new status.

Much later, when I tuck him into bed at eight, he realizes that another 24 hours has passed, during which time he has failed to play any electronics.

We have turned into a family of rampant, racing radicals, not the free kind.

Pass me the monkey nuts, I need to re-energize before I fall off my wheel.

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