The apocalypse in question being a four day screen ban. Yep, you read that right. Four days. Ninety eight hours. Five thousand, seven hundred and …
He only had himself to blame. He knew I was watching the football when he started working through his nightly ritual of why he couldn’t get to sleep. He needed tucking in for the umpteenth time. He needed a drink; followed by a wee. Then a poo. Had I seen the two week old bruise on his ankle? Noises next door. Growing pains. Pre-nightmare scary thoughts. And then a new one… Luca’s brown cover made it look like he’d fallen into the abyss? Ironic given that were his brother to be stood on the edge of an abyss he’d most likely give him a nudge.
Did I mention good cop was watching the football?
It escalated quickly. The initial one day ban seemed reasonable, what with it being a school day n’ all. His back chat increased it to two. Meh, another school day. More fool him.
Whoa, this moved it into the weekend. I was becoming collateral damage. I wanted to race upstairs and throw myself in front of any further punishment but we were playing Chelsea.
Seriously, what kind of crazy Trump-like sociopath of a parent goes straight in with the nuclear option? I’ll tell you who, a working parent, that’s who.
A stay at home parent thinks these thing through. A stay at home parent has an arsenal of empty threats at their disposal. A stay at home parent knows all too well the importance of self-preservation.
And if all that fails, a stay at home parent deals in hours. Not days. Definitely not four.
On her return downstairs I did what any right minded stay at home parent would and immediately launched an appeal. She thought about it, briefly, then delivered her verdict by way of a look so scathing I crawled behind a cushion.
OK, we can do this. Four days, reduced to two for good behaviour? I retreated back behind my cushion. There was to be no clemency shown.
I’ll not lie, it’s been tough. Really tough. There’s been heartbreak and tears. Souls destroyed and untold despair. But enough about me, this is a tale of how a seven-year old boy survived what historians will no doubt refer to as the Great Screen Ban of 2017.
OK, so it wasn’t a complete screen ban in its truest sense. Short of making him stand in a corner of the room facing the wall you can’t remove all contact with screens in this twenty first of centuries. And besides, he’d quite happily spend two of those days picking his nose if not under the watchful eye of a reformed nose-picker.
This modern day screen ban involved no touching of screens and fully relinquishing control of the TV remotes, which in many ways is worse. Watching on as your YouTube favourites get swallowed up by your little brothers inane cat memes? That same brother spreadeagled on the sofa, holding close a plethora of screens he has no intention of playing but knows damn well his brother would?
And so began the charm offensive. Not with his mother, who he held in utter contempt way beyond day three. Nor was it with me whose cowardice at going along with cutting off his own nose he seemed to pity.
For his plan to work he needed to charm his brother, which he did through snacks, drinks and repeatedly reinforcing the unbreakable bond of brotherhood.
What followed was four days of screens by stealth. Of passive gaming. Of pixels by proxy.
He persuaded his brother to play the games he wanted to play, then sat behind him, fingers twitching with every jump and boost like a football manager kicking every ball.
I sat and watched him watch his brother watch a YouTuber watch someone play a video game?
And on more than one occasion I found myself watching The Amazing World of Gumball when I’d normally be watching Money for Nothing.
Janet thinks I’ve undermined her authority. I prefer to see it as a lesson in resourcefulness, ingenuity and somehow persuading his dad that he’d rather watch cartoons than see a heap of scrap metal transformed into a coffee table and sold for a profit.
I’m not sure what Sonny gained from his punishment, other than maybe appreciating his little brother a tad more than before.
Personally though, I’ve gained a lot from the whole sorry experience. For a start it brought Sonny and I closer, even if that closeness was him hovering over my shoulder every time I picked my phone up. I’ve learnt that whilst football may be more important than life and death, turns out it’s not more important than an ever increasing screen ban. But most importantly of all, I’ve learnt that I now have an added string to my authoritative bow.
Don’t get me wrong, he still laughs in the face of my empty threats but by God, just watch him move when I threaten to tell his mother!