He sat across the booth from us in Applebees with twenty-two years of wisdom under his belt. Not much when you compare it to my forty-five years of wisdom and my husband's forty-nine years. Put our years together and you get a grand total of ninety-four years of collective wisdom. Impressive. Intimidating. But not to him.
"Mom and Dad, I need to talk to you about something." Always good with eye contact, his gaze didn't waver. "I've been noticing the girls are watching too much TV."
I took a deep breath and forced my eyes to remain steady, locked in a smiling position. No Botox needed.
"You never let me watch that much TV. Do you know all the things I did when I was a kid because of that?"
He didn't give us a chance to reply.
His eyes still engaged, "I played with Lego's for hours. I read books. Made up games. Played..."
Twenty-two years of life. Most of them childhood. With his youthful memory, he had quite an exhaustive list.
Gotta admit, I was glad he remembered his childhood that way. Felt like a hefty paycheck to this underpaid servant to family and society. I wasn't so sure I'd kept the TV off enough. Even without cable, the temptation to use the entertainment box as a babysitter had gotten the best of me more than I care to admit (not that I counted or could remember if I had). And now with well over a hundred channels and beyond, this tired old momma and papa were loosing the battle, and my son noticed.
He continued. "They should be doing...and playing..."
At this point I really could have used some Botox. I'm sure my eyes lowered. I did my best to move them back into the smiling position. Giving my husband no room to interject, I said, "Luke, do you know who has to do all of that stuff with them at their ages? Me!" I wanted to plead my case with a little more passion, tell him that after nearly raising four children to adulthood and now having little ones underfoot again, I had a right to be selfish with MY time, and..., but I realized self-pity wasn't very attractive, and I was sure it was exposing itself in my eyes. Giving the muscles around my tired eyes another workout, I pushed my lids up again and smiled.
He nodded. His eyes compassionate.
I took a mental step backwards and listened to wisdom. Isn't this the kind of son you wanted? He's bringing a concern to the table, unafraid, with respect, with concern for others.
Again, not giving my husband time to speak (I struggle with that sometimes), my face softened, and I forgot about my eyes. "Thanks, Luke. You're right."
Then together, husband included, we became problem solvers. Our solution: No TV on school nights...even if their homework is done.
We told the girls that afternoon. I braced myself for the worst. We got very few complaints as the days turned to weeks which turned to months. Then one day...
Stop by next week to see if I made an appointment for Botox.