Is Arguing With My Son About Screen Time Decreasing My Life Span?

computer-desk
Photo by James Baigrie

I realized with despair over the weekend that this is how I now seem to spend my time:

30 percent: Working
20 percent: Sleeping
10 percent: Moving clutter from one room of the house to another
40 percent: Arguing with my teenage son about screen time

You could make the case that working and sleeping are absolutely necessary, if I don’t want to default on my mortgage or forget how to perform basic human functions like tying my shoes and breathing. Moving clutter (and by “clutter” I mean crapola that mostly belongs to the other creatures I live with: soccer cleats; dog toys; Nerf guns; cereal bowls with dried milk pooled at the bottom) also seems necessary to my survival, if I don’t want to live in a pigsty or break my neck on the hard plastic thingamabob that someone has mysteriously left in the very middle of the stairs.

The 40 percent of my life that is now spent arguing with my 15-year-old about screen time also seems necessary, if I want to be a “good” parent (whatever the heck that means) and someone who is trying to pass her “values” (whatever they are) on to the next generation. But really, it’s so exhausting. And I think it is affecting my life expectancy. Not in a good way.

This is how my son now seems to spend his time:
15 percent: School
30 percent: Sleeping
10 percent: Facebook
45 percent: League of Legends

Don’t know what League of Legends is? I didn’t either, until it took over my son’s life. (For the uninitiated: the League of Legends Wikipedia page)

There are many issues in parenting where the right path is perfectly clear. Eating nothing but French fries? Unhealthy. Crossing the street without looking? Dangerous. Breaking up with someone by text? Unacceptable. Spending hours a day with headphones on, shouting at your friends as you all play League of Legends together? I…uh…just don’t know. Is it worse to fight with your teenager over a video game (thus raising your own blood pressure and quite possibly leading to your early demise) or live in harmony while he turns paler and paler and begins to flunk all his classes? Sure, in the latter scenario you, Mom, might live longer, but your son will eventually stop leaving his room altogether and will grow up to be one of those people who is never seen in public, like Boo Radley or Edward Snowden. At this point I am waiting for God to give me a sign: Fight, or throw in the towel? But I think God has bigger issues to attend to because my sign hasn’t come yet.

People say parenting a teen is hard. I say parenting a teen is not so hard, but parenting a teen who is addicted to League of Legends is all but impossible. And if I never post on this blog again, you’ll know I died trying.