Plugging in when your middle-schooler wants to cut the cord

I’m always looking for opportunities to stay involved in my son’s educational experience, which has gotten a little trickier since he moved up to middle school.  In elementary school, there were more ways for me to feel plugged in to his experience, as well as to engage with teachers and staff.   Now there are no more apple picking trips, family dance nights or in-class birthday/ Halloween/ Valentine’s Day/Thanksgiving  celebrations (that I’m allowed to attend, anyway).  The elementary school felt like an extension of home – my son would run up to me and give me a hug if he saw me in the hallway while dropping off books for the book fair or volunteering in the cafeteria on pizza Fridays.  Although I have a wonderful relationship with his teacher and staff at the middle school, sometimes I feel like an  interloper; kids I’ve known since they were in kindergarten look at me like an alien life form if they see me anywhere in the vicinity of the middle school.  I feel as though they think that the anti-bacterial dispensers stationed in the hallways should contain parent repellent instead of Purell.  And (sniffle) I’ve seen my son do a double-take if I show up unexpectedly in the hallway, like “uh, what’s she doing here?”

I found some great suggestions for staying actively involved in your child’s school while he or she is trying mightily to pretend that you don’t exist in  10 Tips for Middle School Parents via SchoolFamily.com:

  1. Get to know the teachers. It’s a good idea to meet each of your child’s teachers.  Ask about their expectations. Find out how much time your child should spend on homework each night. Find out whether there will be regularly scheduled tests and if so, when. Ask about the best way to get in touch if you have questions. If the teachers use email, be sure to get their addresses.
  2. Find a niche for yourself at your child’s school. Unlike in the lower grades, middle school classrooms don’t need extra adults on hand. But you can volunteer in other ways.  Serve as an adviser for an extracurricular activity such as the school paper, chess club, or science fair. Help out in the computer lab. Being in the school is a great way to get a feel for what goes on there.
  3. Do behind-the-scenes work. If you can’t be in school during the day, ask teachers and other school personnel to pass along some work that you can do on your own. Photocopy homework assignments; collect recyclables for a science or art project; serve on a parent-school advisory council; join your middle school PTO or PTA.
  4. Volunteer to chaperone school dances and drive kids to school sports competitions. You’ll meet other parents, school staff, and your child’s classmates.
  5. Go to school meetings and events. Attending concerts, plays, assemblies, meetings, and other activities is a good way to become familiar with your child’s school community.
  6. Find out about homework assignments and school tests. If your school has a website where teachers list homework assignments, get in the habit of checking it regularly. If not, contact your child’s teachers and ask them to alert you when there’s an important project or test coming up.
  7. Talk to your child about school. Ask specific questions to draw out your child. Ask “How do you think you did on the math test?” “Did Mr. Phipps say anything funny today?” “What games did you play in PE?”
  8. Give your child a quiet place to study and do homework. Find an area in your home that is free of distraction where your middle schooler can concentrate on homework. Be available to help if your child has a question.
  9. Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for her. Offer to check math problems, proofread written papers, and look over spelling words. If you find a mistake, point it out to your child and help her figure out the correct answer.
  10. Post a family calendar in a central place. Write down important school dates, including parent meetings, due dates for projects, and tests. Encourage your middle schooler to add to the calendar and to check it daily. 
Middle school can be a confusing time for everyone, so  I’m all in favor of anything that keeps me in the loop in the most unobtrusive way possible.  I know it’s healthy and inevitable for our middle-schoolers to start asserting some independence but, whether they realize it or not, they need us now more than ever, right?  Someone validate me, please (I don’t think my middle-schooler is going to)!

plug in!

How do you check in with your middle-schooler and stay involved in the school scene?  All suggestions are welcome!

time for mom button

Photo courtesy of Mom Meets Blog

Tips for Playroom Organization

Many  happy hours have been whiled away in my son’s playroom, imagining and dreaming with little trains, planes and automobiles strewn in every corner.  It’s also been the site of a few mishaps – as cute as that little Mini Cooper is, stepping on it with a bare foot is a painful encounter!  After some trial and error, here are the organizing solutions that have worked best for me:

  • Before you embark on any organizing mission, if there is a closet in the playroom, clean it out.  That closet will become command central for your kids and their toys, and if they see it organized nicely and can find their toys easily, chances are (maybe) they’ll try to keep it that way.
  • Clear plastic shoe organizers hung on the back of a door or inside a closet door are great “garages” for little cars and other small toys.
  • For instant de-cluttering, make use of plastic storage bins or baskets that can be stored in the closet or under a bed.   Check out The Container Store or even dollar stores for colorful baskets in many sizes and shapes at reasonable prices.
  •  Make use of the vertical space in a room with wall shelves.  For a decorator look, paint the wall a funky accent color before you put up shelves.  I once painted a wall in the playroom fire-engine red and put up elfa shelves like these – they put the fun in functional.

  • Save those shoeboxes and the planet!  Have your kids color and decorate them for creative, homemade storage that can also be used to grace the shelves you just installed.  Nothing says “playroom” like a storage box with a big pair of jiggling googly eyes staring out at you.

  • Make use of double duty furniture.  When buying my son’s big boy bed, I made sure it was both comfy and had drawers for storage (his favorite place for stowing away Legos).  And that good old-fashioned toy chest?  Put a decorative pillow or cushion on the lid for extra seating.
  • Don’t overlook Ziploc plastic bags for labeling and organizing puzzle pieces and doll accessories (and more Legos).
  • Book cases are great for mixed use storage.  Add some baskets filled with toys alongside the books for a neat, organized look.
  • Repurpose what you have at home by thinking outside the box – in this case, tool boxes, old Tupperware, anything that’s not being used for its original purpose but still has storage capacity can be used to store dolls, action figures, whatever needs a home.

The idea is to mix and match the solutions that work for you.  Pay attention to how and when your kids play with and use their toys, and match your organizing solution to their usage.  If some toys are used every day, maybe an open basket on the floor where the toys are easily accessible (and can be put in a closet or rolled under the bed at the end of the day) is the right fit.  Perhaps other toys that are used more infrequently can go up on a shelf or in a closet.  And toys that aren’t used any longer and still in good condition can be donated to charity or, if your kids are older, check and see if their old preschool can make use of them.

Everyone is going to have a different take on organizing, but I’ve found that whatever works for you is the right solution.  Be creative, have fun, and happy organizing!

It’s Just a Cough, Right?

My son’s friends came home with him after school today to hang out for a while.  As the boys tumbled through the door, divesting themselves of their jackets, backpacks and sneakers (no shoes in the house!!) I noticed that one of them was sporting a pretty nasty cough.

Normally I’m not paranoid about other kids’ coughs, sneezes, or runny noses – kids get sick, including my own –  I offer tissues and insist on hand washing to keep the germs at bay, and that’s usually enough to keep things under control.  But last week we got a notice from the school nurse that a case of whooping cough had been identified in the school, and in my son’s grade to boot.  I knew for sure that my son’s friend wasn’t the affected individual, but as soon as the boys were settled in I grabbed the notice and gave it another read.

I learned that whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes an uncontrollable, violent cough lasting several weeks or even months.  It can begin with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough that can progress to episodes of severe coughing.  It is spread from person to person by direct contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of infected individuals.   At that point a visual of microscopic droplets, pregnant with pertussis, being hacked into the air popped in to my head.   In my vivid imaginings I pictured those droplets landing on the Legos and Nerf guns the kids were playing with, and then making their way into their noses and throats. . .

That’s when I went to the laundry room and grabbed my can of Lysol disinfectant and started spraying.  Everything.  Even those stinky sneakers by the door.  The kids didn’t seem to notice.

I asked my son’s friend how long he’d been coughing and he replied that it’s been a few days now, “but it’s not that whooping cough”, he insisted “I just have a cold.”  I simply smiled and kept on spraying.

After the kids left, my son remarked that his coughing friend had been uncharacteristically cranky today.  I explained to him that he probably wasn’t feeling well, and then I called his mom to let her know that he’d been out of sorts and coughing quite a bit this afternoon.  She thanked me and assured me that it was nothing to worry about.   Was I being a little paranoid?  Perhaps,  but I told my son to wash his hands and face thoroughly and continued to Lysol all the Legos and Nerf guns. . .

California Roll – The Gateway Sushi

Ah, summertime and the living is easy.  In between play dates, lazy afternoons at the pool,  assorted day trips and movies, my son and I ducked into the local Barnes and Noble to escape the summer heat.  Ignoring my gentle suggestions and the selections on his 6th grade reading list, my kid walked out of the book store with James Patterson’s Middle School, Get Me Out of Here! and. . . a sushi making kit.

My son loves sushi.  Okay, technically he loves California rolls, which perhaps for the true sushi aficionado is not really considered sushi; like the fortune cookie, the California roll is an American invention.  Created in the early 1970s by a sushi chef in Los Angeles, it consists of crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped in rice and nori (seaweed) and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  But, I like to think of it as a gateway sushi – if he’s enjoying this now, maybe as he gets older he’ll move onto a tuna roll or some hardcore sashimi.  Anything that expands a kid’s culinary horizons is fine by me, and $10 is a small price to pay for his delighted enthusiasm.

The Sushi Making Kit from Mud Puddle Inc. provides the essentials – recipe book, rolling mat, rice paddle, and two sets of chopsticks.  Most of the  ingredients are readily available at the supermarket in the Asian foods section, and I found the crab sticks at our neighborhood produce market.  The sushi rice is easy to prepare, and once all the ingredients are cut up and the rice has cooled,  you’re (literally) ready to roll.

My son quickly took charge, and following the easy instructions, here’s how it turned out:

The ingredients

Spreading the rice on the nori

Adding the filling

Roooolling along. . .

A little chunky but good!

Ready for slicing; he used a serrated knife

Nice!

Ah, summertime – and the sushi is easy!

All photos courtesy of Mom Meets Blog

Anatomy of a Playdate

I came home today to find my son’s cousins had come over to play for the afternoon. With my son suitably entertained for the time being and my husband on kid patrol, I comfortably settled in at my desk with a cup of hazelnut coffee and a croissant slathered in Nutella (what else?) and topped with apricot preserves, door tightly shut (should I lock it?), hoping to get some work done. My husband is supposed to be keeping the kids from killing each other watching the kids but I can hear that they are just about to begin a sword battle and I know that no good can come of this.  When it’s two 11 year olds against a 7 year old (or is it the other way around?) there’s bound to be bloodshed, or tears at least.

“Ow, that hurts!” I hear one of them cry out, I can’t tell which one.  I don’t hear my husband.  I hear the playing continue.  I hear a little body slamming, some running, jumping, banging, yelping and more sword clanging.  Still no husband.   I wonder if he’s fallen asleep on the couch.  I refuse to get up and check to see what’s going on.  I refuse to let my coffee get cold, and I’ve only eaten half my croissant.

I sit and listen, trying to discern whose voice is whose.  I hear some yelling, but can’t really make out what they’re saying. . . Uh  oh.  Now it’s quiet.  Too quiet.  I start to push back my chair. . .

Now they’re laughing.  Laughing is good, right?  Unless they’ve found something inappropriate on the internet (is that why they were so quiet?) and are now cackling hysterically over something that’s really funny or that they don’t understand – or both.

Good.  The sword clanging has resumed.  “I’m not kidding!  Stop!  Stop it!!” one of them bellows.  Still no reaction from my husband.  For goodness’ sake, what is he doing????

I am not getting up.  I can hear feet scurrying.  I hear rapid clicking sounds.  I wonder if my husband’s still in the house.

I take a sip of my coffee – still warm.  And then the crying begins.

It’s the 7 year old.  From what I gather about the melee occurring outside my door, he got pelted between the eyes with a Nerf gun bullet and didn’t like it.  When I came home I noticed at least five Nerf guns out and enough ammo to take out a small (Lego) village, with the younger one sporting multiple weapons, dispatching foam balls and bullets at the hapless two older kids.  Turnabout is fair play, little man.

“All right guys, that’s it!” I hear my husband parenting (finally!)  He tells one of the kids to put down the shield (?) and for everybody to sit down and watch TV.

It’s quiet again.

I polish off my croissant.  The doorbell rings – it’s the boys’ dad come to pick them up.  I can hear them all talking and saying goodbye.  I don’t move.  I finish this post.  And my coffee.

Photos courtesy of Google Images and Mom Meets Blog

The Birds, the Bees & Bye Bye Birdie

Last week we went to see the 7th & 8th grade production of Bye Bye Birdie at my son’s middle school.  I am particularly fond of this piece because, back in the day, I was one of the “screaming girls” in my 8th grade’s production of the musical.  I remember how much fun all my friends and I had singing the songs during rehearsals, and how exciting the performances were.  I felt that my son would also enjoy the play because, although it is set in the late 1950s, the themes still ring true today – bewildered parents, their hormone driven teenagers, and the maniacal worship of teen idols (paging Justin Bieber – or is it One Direction now?  Kids!).  My son absolutely roared with laughter at one point when, during a frustrating encounter with his children, the Harry MacAfee character sputters, “I didn’t know what puberty was until I was almost past it!”  I think he found that funny because there’s been so much puberty talk at school lately (it’s one of the units of study this semester) that he couldn’t imagine anyone actually missing it!

As I was helping my son study for a test on that subject one evening, I could tell by my husband’s bemused expression that, like Harry MacAfee, he didn’t quite know what to make of it all.  Certainly our respective parents never quizzed us on the term for “the spurting out of semen from the penis” or the name of “the entire outside genital area of a female”.  In my experience, “the period talk” consisted of receiving an informative book and a box of pads courtesy of Kimberly-Clark, and where babies came from (and how they got there in the first place) was not a topic parents discussed with their children.  But there I sat, discussing testicles, vaginas, and nocturnal emissions with my son as though we were chatting about what he had for lunch in the cafeteria that afternoon, while my husband busied himself in the kitchen so as not to get involved disturb us.  I knew he felt uncomfortable, but he would have to get over that, and fast.

I will say that talking about puberty and the changes that both boys’ and girls’ bodies undergo in such a matter-of-fact way has so normalized this conversation that I feel it has opened the door for a kind of closeness that I’m sure many of us didn’t experience with our folks when we were growing up.  I want my son to know that he can talk to me about this or anything else that comes his way.  I certainly welcome and feel very comfortable with this new chapter in our relationship.  I remember reading about a Details  magazine article where The Avengers  star Chris Evans revealed that his mom was the first person he told when he lost his virginity.  I wonder if I will be privy to that information.  I mean, the kid just gave me a surprisingly accurate explanation of the process of menstruation and he’s figured out why mommy has a “stomachache” every month, so I guess anything is possible.

While I was making breakfast on the morning of the test, my son asked my husband to quiz him on the material one last time.  I held my breath for a second to see if he was going to lob this one over to me or whether he would bite the bullet and jump on the puberty bandwagon.  Without skipping a beat my husband said “Sure” and they sat down together for a final review.  And with that we all entered a brave new world.

Oh, and the test?  My son came home proudly waving it around yesterday.  He got a 95.  🙂

Check out “What’s the Matter with Kids Today” from the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Barnes & Noble

Welcome to Nike Town!

Okay, so my 11-year-old son’s feet grew.  A lot.

He’s been wearing the same pair of sneakers for the last 7 months.  I kept asking him if they felt too tight or if he was uncomfortable, and he kept telling me they felt fine.  I’ve offered several times to buy him a new pair of sneakers, but he’s declined.  Being a creature of habit, he likes to wear the same things over and over again, especially his shoes.  Plus, he hates any kind of shopping.  And with the mild winter we’ve had, there was no need to go out and buy new boots, so I hadn’t had his foot measured since the beginning of the school year.

Until today.  He measured in at a size four.  The sneakers he’s been wearing are a size two.  “Why didn’t you tell me your sneakers felt too small?”  I questioned my son.  He just shrugged his shoulders.  “Don’t worry about it,” the clerk at Modell’s said.  “Their old sneakers stretch as their feet grow, he probably didn’t feel any difference.”

Maybe he didn’t feel any difference, but I felt like the most horrible mom on earth.  Who takes their kid’s word for it that their shoes fit?  Who doesn’t get their kid’s foot measured more regularly?  Why don’t I have a Brannock device at home???

We looked around the store for a new pair of sneakers.  I managed to talk him out of a high-top basketball shoe; he doesn’t play basketball and I could hear the complaints that they were bothering his ankles already.  And for the price, I wasn’t taking a chance that it was something he would decide felt uncomfortable in 3 days’ time.  He didn’t see anything he liked, so we headed on over to Foot Locker, with its clerks dressed in striped ref shirts, questionable rap music blaring over the speakers, and boys drooling over the latest overpriced kicks – a pre-teen boy’s footwear mecca.  No more Skechers.  No more Stride Rite.  Straight into Nike town.

And then the sticker shock set in – $65, $85, $100 and more!  Am I that out of touch?  I’d heard the rumors of boys’ sneakers costing as much as a month’s worth of groceries, but I thought that was an urban legend.  These are sneakers, after all, not Jimmy Choo‘s, which as everyone knows are an investment, or so I’ve read (but how would I fit them into my portfolio?).  These shoes are likely to be outgrown and forgotten in 6 months.  Hoping to cut my losses, I grabbed a pair of $65 Nike Air Max shoes and asked the clerk to bring me a size four.  My son slipped his feet into them and immediately felt the difference (damn you, clerk at Modell’s!) – he said they weren’t tight, and the side of his foot wasn’t hurting anymore (what??).  “Do you like them?” I asked, before he could look at anything else.  “Yeah, they’re cool,” he pronounced.  I threw the old ones in the new sneaker box and headed for the register, happy to be getting out of there for less than a hundred bucks.

At check out the cashier informed me that the total was $99.16.  “What?  No, the price on this shoe is $65, I saw it on the floor,” I exclaimed.  “Yes, that’s for size 3 and under; size four starts at $95,” the cashier explained.  Considering that the sneakers were already on my son’s feet and factoring in his pain and suffering at wearing sneakers two sizes too small for God knows how long, I handed over my credit card.

What was I complaining about?  I was, after all, getting out of there for under $100.

Are you as clueless as I am about pre-teen boy’s sneakers?  Are they really overpriced, or am I just out of touch?  What else do I have to look out for?  Will I ever own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s?  If you have answers to any of these questions, please, let me know!

Some photos courtesy of Google images

A Well Visit Wake Up

courtesy of Google images

I recently took my 11 year old son for his yearly well visit with the pediatrician.  At the end of the appointment, and after being assured all was indeed well, the doctor handed me a nifty little printout detailing the visit.  The first page listed current height and weight, any labs and tests ordered, results from vision and hearing screening, and any follow up appointments that needed scheduling.  How nice to have all that information neatly summarized on one page for easy reference – thank you, electronic medical records.

Then I turned the page.

The next page was captioned “11-14 Year Old Adolescent Visit”.  Adolescent?  My visceral reaction to reading this was “Holy sh*tballs! For reals?  Where did that come from?” I was just getting used to the term tween.  Tween is cute.  Last week he was still 10 years old.  This week he’s 11 and suddenly the word adolescent is being bandied about?  That just has a clinical ring to it I’m not sure I’m ready for.

And “11” is light years away from “14”.  In my inner panic all I could picture was a sullen, monosyllabic sleeping and eating machine who is six inches taller than me, at risk for trigger thumb from too much texting and suddenly interested in commercials for Axe deodorant.  This is a far cry from my sweet little boy who still reaches for my hand whenever we cross a busy street (if no one’s looking, of course).

I don’t know why I was so floored.  From infant to toddler to preschooler to big kid to tween (and technically I think I can still hold on to that one), my son’s new identifier as “11-14 Year Old Adolescent” is just the next step, right?  But there it was in black and white, mocking me as if to say “ready or not, here I come!”

The document went on to list information and guidelines about topics such as school performance, immunizations, testing, nutrition and oral health, physical, social and emotional development, and talking to your newly minted adolsecent about “risk behaviors” – you can just imagine what that’s about.

“Doctor,” I said, “Don’t get me wrong, I think this handout is great, but that ‘11-14 Year Old Adolescent’ thing kind of grabbed me by the throat.”  This man, who has been my son’s pediatrician for 10 years, laughed and said, “Yes, I know it’s a shock, but it’s here.”

And the hormone talk, like spring, must be in the air.  A few days later as I was looking over the curriculum topics to be covered in his class after the spring break, I noticed that “Puberty” was nestled in there between the Latin American Unit, Rocks and Minerals, and Essays and Fiction Writing.

I turned to my son and asked him if he knew what puberty was.  “I don’t know”, he shrugged “something about growing up, I guess”.

I have this tucked away. . .

Like the doctor said, it’s here.

It’s really here.

Have you had “the talk” with your kids yet?  How did you handle it?  What’s in store?  I really want to know!

Tips to Streamline Those Hectic Mornings

What mom hasn’t gotten that frantic phone call from their kid at school – “Mom, I forgot my ________!”  You can fill in the blank with any variety of items – homework, lunch, violin, lacrosse stick, glasses -whatever can get left behind usually does at one point or another.

If the same crazy chaos keeps happening day after day, like “Groundhog Day” for the school set, planning ahead and establishing some routines can streamline those manic mornings and help to better organize the day.  Get the kids to assist in the prep work – let them “earn points” redeemable for extra computer time or whatever else might motivate them to take part in setting up a plan of attack and sticking to it.  It’s just as easy to love a good routine as it is a bad one, so check out some tips to help you get started:

  • Pack it up the night before – as soon as homework is completed, pack up all papers, books, folders, etc. into the back pack, zip it up and leave it in a centralized location (by the door, in the kitchen) every evening so it’s easy to locate in the morning.
  • Lay out clothes the night before.  It’s easier to let your child have a say in this the night before than fighting about it 5 minutes before you have to head out the door.  Everyday items like a watch or jewelry, wallet, or cellphone should also be included with the wardrobe.  And how many times have I heard “where are my glasses”?  Check out this cute glasses holder from The Container Store.  My son hasn’t misplaced his glasses since I put this on a shelf by his bed a few months ago.
  • Breakfast hassles? While multigrain cereal or some whole fruit are nutritious options, some mornings my son likes a hot breakfast.  He loves pancakes, so I make a batch on Sunday, freeze them, and then microwave them during the week for a hot, homemade breakfast any time.  Since I’m making my own, I can add bananas, walnuts, flax seeds – it’s healthier and less expensive than the frozen store-bought kind.
  • A calendar outlining activities and events for each day (math test, sports and club activities, music lessons, etc.) is a visual reminder of what items are needed to complete daily tasks – and gather them ahead of time.  It’s also a good place for writing down a to do list – charge cellphone, get lunch money, etc.  If kids can see what’s coming, it’s less overwhelming and easier to manage for everyone.  I use this erasable calendar decal from PBTeen.

These methods have cut down on my morning chaos and have helped my son stay organized – what strategies do you use to reign in the madness?  I’d love to hear about them and learn something new!

Too Much Television!

It’s the question that all mothers ask at some point or another – how much television is too much? When I was pregnant with my son, I was determined that television was going to have a supporting role – maybe even a walk-on part – not a starring role in my son’s life.  I was the mom who played Baby Needs More Mozart and read Dr. Seuss to my baby in utero.  Books lined the shelves in his nursery, little soldiers waiting to be deployed in the battle against too much television.

Then the real world came crashing in.  At first, there was Sesame Street and a few select educational videos, and that was it.  Through friends and playgroups, Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer arrived on the scene, and he was enthralled with his little “Thinking Chair”-shaped notepad and crayon, “writing” down clues everywhere we went.

Around the 1st grade, he came home asking about Spongebob Squarepants.  All the other kids were watching it, and he wanted to watch it too.  At this point, I didn’t allow TV watching during the week, only on weekends.  So one Saturday afternoon we took a journey to a pineapple under the sea and met the denizens of Bikini Bottom.  Once again, he was hooked.  Me, not so much.  After a while, though, that little yellow sponge and his friends got the better of me, so much so that one summer we boarded the Nickelodeon Cruise to the Bahamas with Spongebob and all his friends.  I have to admit, we had a blast, with dad getting slimed in the process.

Fast forward to middle school.  The television watching rules during the week have been relaxed, as long as all homework and other responsibilities have been met.  And here is where I Iook for . . . balance.  Glazed eyes and slurred speech are a dead giveaway, of course, but if whatever’s flashing on the flat screen is taking away from something else, it’s time to act.  For example, if my son’s not showing off his newest Lego creation or the latest installment in a comic book he’s writing, or if we’re not engaging in a good old “well, what do you think?” session, that means there’s too much television.  Putting off going bike riding because there’s something on TV?  Too much.  Family time compromised (and this applies to all of us)?  Too much.  If a day or two goes by and I haven’t seen a book in his hand because of some can’t-miss TV show?  Too much.

These days when everything can be DVR’d or viewed on Netflix, television can take a back seat.  There are only so many hours in the day to engage in other pursuits and connect with each other; I don’t want my family giving that up to television.  Although, Wednesday night is “The Middle” night. . . .

 How do you balance television viewing in your family?  What’s your tipping point?