Growing up I looked forward to Saturday morning all week-long. I couldn’t wait to pour a bowl of cereal and plant myself in front of the TV with my siblings for a morning of cartoons. Flash forward to this morning: my son woke me up to get him a bowl of cereal in front of the Xbox. He has several boys from school playing a rousing game of Ark Survival on a private server. They are all sitting in their own living rooms playing a video game together and chatting about school, Christmas and YouTube. Is this the end of Saturday morning cartoons?
We walked into the doctor’s office, thinking that it was just a bad sprain to his wrist. Stunned by his findings, we sat there listening to the doctor say “Your mission should you choose to accept it is to get an active 8 year old boy to sit still for 2 weeks until his next appointment. If you are successful in your mission, the cast may be removed at that time. If not, this mission could extend for an additional 2-4 weeks. Your mission parameters also include: cannot get the arm wet, no activities that will make him sweat and cannot allow him to use his right arm. And, no, you can’t use drugs or rope.”
Our first analysis of the situation made us realize how dangerous this mission would be. First, our daycare option of swim camp would have to be cancelled for at least the next two weeks. Also, there were two birthday parties where the overall theme was either NERF guns or some form of battle. A brief threat analysis determined that these events would make him sweat and fall injuring his arm further. But, the worst realization came when we reviewed the requirement that he not use his right arm. Suddenly, we were gripped with fear. No Xbox! No, Nintendo 3DS! How are we going to survive this mission? Every strategy that we had deployed in the past was now gone. We needed a new battle plan, if we were going to have a chance of success.
Returning home, we met in the War Room (kitchen) to discuss these new developments. Shaking our heads, we asked; “How are we going to make it through the next 24 hrs.?” Our strategy was simple and straightforward. It included: his favorite foods, Jessie on the Disney Channel, Legos, reading his Minecraft book and a visit to a friend (we picked his most calming friend). After mapping our mission plan, we gathered provisions and went to bed.
Operation distraction commenced at Zulu 0630, when I woke to, “I’m hungry! Feed me!” Preparing French toast (his favorite breakfast), I calculated 45 minutes of diversion. He ate so quickly, breakfast only lasted 20 minutes. Off and running, already looking for something to do, he started trying to climb the back of the couch with one hand. “Stop! Do you want to break your other arm?” I yelled to get his attention.
Our next morale booster was watching Jessie on the Disney Channel. As much as he laughed, he declared “I’m bored!” after 2 hours of watching. Translation: he could no longer sit still and watch Cameron Boyce dance. “Don’t even think about it,” I warned. “Aw Mom!” he shouted. “I’ve been sitting too long. I won’t use my right arm, when I spin on my back,” he lied.
At Zulu 0900, I brought out his Legos to occupy him for another two hours. Within 15 minutes, he said, “I can’t do this with one arm.” Frustration was starting to get a foothold in our day as he said, “Bring me something else to do!” Quickly, I went to the next item in the plan. I reached for his Minecraft book. By Zulu 1015, I had run out of activities to keep him still. I needed to find something else that would entertain him until lunch.
Setting up a target range for ballistic trajectory, he started bombing and knocking over the targets. I frequently patrolled to make sure that he was not using his broken arm. Each time, I successfully avoided getting in the line of fire. When it seemed that he would be okay, I turned my focus on his lunch. Hearing a crash, I came running in “What happened to that lamp? Why is there a soccer ball next to it?” As I looked around to find him for an explanation, he was gone. His ninja training allowed him to escape undetected. But, at least searching for him kept him entertained for 15 minutes.
After eating lunch, it was time for Battle of the Bored. We marched down the street to a friend’s house. Because this was the quietest of his friends, I thought that my son would be entertained without a chance of harming his arm. Excited to be out of the house and seeing his friend, he ran double time up the steps, tripping and falling on his broken arm. “Man down! Abort mission!” I said bringing him home for damage control.
Desperate to get him to sit still, I set up YouTube videos for him to watch. While he was very entertained by the Gummy Bear Song and Titanoboa, he could not stay still for long. Soon he was dancing around and shaking his butt like the Gummy Bear.
At the end of my rope, I called in reinforcements. “I am taking heavy fire. I need back up here,” I pleaded with my husband. “He has already fallen once and he won’t keep still!”
Because failure was not an option, I launched a nuclear strike. “How about Pokémon (Japanese water torture as my husband and I call it)?” I asked. “If you sit still, I will play Pokémon cards with you.” He stopped in his tracks and smiled. When reinforcements finally arrived, he had killed all of my Pokémon characters 3 times over, and I was babbling “Are you sure that it has only been 1 day? It seems like a week.”