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How I’m Turning A Shattered iPad Into A 3-Step Teachable Moment For My Daughter

The following was syndicated from Medium for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

Welp, the inevitable has happened. After countless warnings, we are now an iPad short in our household. Now this comes as no surprise, as my kids handle the iPad like it’s a frisbee, but it still hurts. Looking down at this poor, shattered iPad, I was overcome with rage. I needed to make a decision and fast. How would I react to this tragedy?

“It’s okay honey, like the old saying goes: don’t cry over spilt milk.”

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I reverted to an old cliche. I’ve officially gone full parent mode. What do I do now? How can I possibly be mad at my 9-year-old for this?

“Accidents happen,” I kept telling her, “we just need to be a little more careful.”

father holding newborn child
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Truth is: I’m pissed. This is an expensive mistake. Sorry doesn’t cut it. Her punishment? I am going to turn this into a teachable moment, every child’s worst nightmare. Here is my 3-step plan (to be followed over the Summer months):

1. We Save Up For Another One
Now I’m not stupid here. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for 9-year-olds to make 300 dollars over the summer. However, I am going to try like hell. Little Rocket is now going to be making coin on everything she does. Here’s a dollar — go clean my car. Here’s another dollar for organizing a book shelf. Watch your baby cousin, make sure he doesn’t drink toilet water: here’s a dollar. This will cost me some money, but she will work for it. I will also offer her services to my extended family as well, even the neighbors, I don’t care. I want this to stick. Our family is going to work this poor child into the ground, or at least until she refuses to do anything. Then I don’t know what we’ll do.

2. She Will Go Outside
I don’t care what she does, but it’s going to be outside. She can go outside and talk to herself while she kicks a rock around the neighborhood, but it’s going to be outside. She can fist-fight boys from the neighborhood but at least it will be outside. She got caught pool hopping 2 streets over? That’s great! She’s enjoying the great outdoors! (This is not great, it is dangerous, but it supports my agenda.) Children have no idea how to play outside anymore. I’m going to sound like I’m an old fart here (please call me a middle-aged fart) but we used to go outside after school and not come home until total darkness, and that was because whatever game we were playing couldn’t be played anymore because we physically couldn’t see. Also, I don’t know if my parents loved me enough to come and find me, but whatever. My daughter will be on a short leash, and it will be outside.

3. She Reads
Don’t scoff at this. My kids already read before bed but I want to try to do better. We live in a new world of technology, where adults are either on their phone or reading when they get a free moment. Unfortunately, the split is probably 85 percent to 15 percent, but whatever, maybe those adults are reading their Kindle app on their phones. I try to read and model as much as possible, and when I’m reading on the phone, I make sure to let them know that’s exactly what I’m doing. I just really wish my kids would pick a book up and sit for 15 minutes on the couch, before I have to ask “please put the book down and talk to me!” This would be amazing. One can dream. Instead it’s usually “you used up 100 percent of the battery life? You’ve been playing Minecraft that long?!”

Well, that’s my 3-step program to take the pure rage out of my veins, oh, and to teach my 9-year-old a lesson about responsibility. Remember, these plans usually only work if you stick to them, so I will guarantee you that this will be a difficult day and a half for my daughter.

Tony Serafini (aka Bottlerocket) is probably your twenty-ninth favorite internet dad.