I wanted my children back, the iPod held them hostage.
I have hidden my children's iPod. For good. Last weekend, I snatched it away from them and hid it in the back of our linen closet. It's under the towels and far enough away that little hands and arms won't be able to reach it. I did this amidst much screaming and begging for mercy. Neighbours must have feared they were bearing witness to the most disgusting physical abuse. But I was fuelled with the determination that only a desperate parent can understand, and confiscate it I did.
My reasons for taking such drastic steps were simple: I wanted my children back. The iPod had held them hostage since last Christmas. Santa, in perhaps not his smartest moment, only delivered one, for the whole family to "share". I had visions of us enjoying downloading our favourite music from the iTunes store, but my children had other ideas and began requesting that we download the various apps that they had been watching their friends tinker with from a distance for years. So, somewhat innocently, we conceded and bought a few. And then the chaos started.
They were addicted from day one. Initially my husband and I told each other not to worry too much, that it was just the novelty that held them firmly in its grasp. Fast forward a few months and their enthusiasm had not waned. In fact, it had only intensified to the point where, once they got on it, it was almost impossible to get the gadget away from them.
Now, at this point, I can almost hear some readers scoffing and admonishing my obvious lack of parental ability, judging me for not being able to set and enforce simple guidelines for the use of this gadget (seriously, do you even have children?) Why, you are probably asking, did I not simply enforce a system whereby each child was allocated a set time for use of the iPod each week and then remove it from them when that time was up? Sounds simple, doesn't it? And, in a perfect world, it would be a great idea. Only it didn't work for us. Here's why: once they held that wretched device in their hands, they simply refused to let go. No amount of threats, bribery or reasoning would coerce them into surrendering it. After half an hour of playing on it, I found they were so riled up and engaged in their game that they found it almost impossible to disengage and go back to reality.
And then there were the fights. One child always thought that the other had been granted an extra minute or millisecond than they had and proceeded to go insane with the injustice of it all. The wronged party would beg for just one extra minute and the remaining siblings would howl in objection. Sound awful? It was. Exhausting? You bet.
That tiny screened device was coveted by my children with the intensity a drug addict reserves for cocaine. It brought out a side of my children that I got tired of seeing. An ugly side. And the worst part was that if they weren't playing on the iPod, they were completely unable to think of anything else to do. That darned device seemed to render them brain-dead.
A fantastic way to keep them quiet and occupied? I guess so. But something I want my children to become all-consumed by? Never!
One week on and I could not be more happy with my decision to hide the iPod. Recent news reports that Australian children are the laziest in the world have provided my ultimate vindication. We're back into reading books, playing card games, walking the dog and getting our homework done without too much ado. I have my children back. And that rotten iPod is gone for good.
Amanda Sheehan is a freelance writer.