I despaired. How could I have raised a child whose first thought on waking was deciding what he was going to watch on a screen? And my horror at this situation overcame the temptation to put an end to the nagging by muttering a reluctant 'yes' under my breath (of the sort that was loud enough to be heard by small ears but quiet enough that I could tell myself I had not really given permission).
Later that day we entered a museum, and demands were replaced by wide-eyed wonder. My boy carried a pen and notepad and spent the next four hours making 'notes' and drawing diagrams of the animals we came across. Before long his brother had joined him, and together they attracted smiles and nods of approval of the sort I had not received in a public place for quite some time.
The next morning, instead of thinking of Netflix before breakfast, my youngest slipped out of bed and onto the floor beside his brother. As I dozed under glow in the dark stars and a bedspread decorated in space motifs, these two boys created a world fueled by nothing more than their imaginations and Lego, a world that lasted all the way to lunchtime.
I often hanker for a simpler time, for a home with one television and four channels that are unwatchable for most of the day. Instead we have no television and an embarrassing number of small and highly portable screens. Of course I worry (isn't that part of the job description), but then I see my boys responding to the world around them with the same sense of wonder and curiosity that has always been the hallmark - even the litmus test - of a good childhood.
And while I cannot know for sure if the kids are truly going to be alright, although I wish with every fiber of my being that they are, I do understand that it is a luxury of sorts to even begin to imagine that the presence of televisions or small screens or even social media are going to be the deciding factor in that particular equation.