After my rant about games the other day, I realized that my attitudes were very much based in my own experiences growing up and not so much in today’s reality of game playing, at least not as it relates to my own family.  My family is made up of nice people who aren’t jerks, even when they are playing games.  The same can be said of my other game playing friends.  Just as I now do not associate with the greater relatively uneducated population, neither did I feel any particular kinship with it when I was growing up.  So it’s inappropriate of me to apply experiences from one sphere to another.  (Yes,  I know that sounds incredibly snotty and elitist of me, but I can’t help having a really high IQ.  It makes it really hard to be around less intelligent people sometimes, and not because I’m being judgmental of them.  It’s really my own problem for not being able to moderate my own impatience.  Anyway.)

With that in mind, and with temporal fairness in mind, we came up with a better plan for how to approach games and screen time in general, not just for summer but hopefully for the school year as well.  First we had to distinguish the difference between ‘good’ screen time and ‘bad’ screen time.  “Bad” being a completely relative term, not a judgmental one.  “Good” screen time involves imagination and creativity.  As such, a game like Minecraft totally counts as ‘good’ screen time since its entire point is the creation of new worlds.  Reading on a screen counts as ‘good’ screen time.  Watching educational shows or documentaries counts as ‘good’ screen time.

“Bad” screen time is what we decided to call “brain candy”: screen time that has absolutely no creative, imaginative, or intellectual value and is for sheer entertainment purposes only.  Non-creative games are brain candy, though this gets a little fuzzy when it comes to puzzle-solving games like Portal.  Reading Facebook is brain candy.  Pinning to Pinterest is brain candy.  Watching television shows and movies is brain candy.

After making those distinctions, we had to come up with scheduling.  During the summer, at least during the weeks when our daughter’s summer camps aren’t in session, we’re both home during the day and so we need to divide the time up appropriately so that everyone gets equal time on the computer.  We decided each person should get four hours a day on the computer, whether good or bad screen time, with Daddy getting dibs on the evening hours since he’s at work all day.  During weeks when our daughter is in camp, we’ll have to come up with a different plan, but between the computer, the Playstation, and our daughter’s iPod and 3DS, I bet we can come up with something.

We also decided that no one should get more than three hours of brain candy time a day, adults included (summer schedule: that goes down to two hours during the school year).  We also decided that the person has to do something else after two hours that isn’t brain candy and that we should remember to get up and move around at least once an hour when we’re on a screen to avoid leg compression and repetitive stress injuries.

Other stipulations for our daughter are that she must read two hours a day (on a screen is okay), and she must draw for one hour a day (again, on a screen is okay).  It’s just very important to me that she keep her imagination active, and I know that’s the real worry of the “screens are bad” camp of people.  They don’t want kids or adults with bricks for brains who can’t think for themselves (though it can be argued that our entire society’s goal is to keep people from thinking for themselves, but that’s another very long post).  We’re also going to use timers so that there isn’t any question about how long someone has been doing a particular thing.  I think this plan will ward off a lot of fights over the summer.

In other news, our MamaCat is making a miraculous recovery.  Last week, I didn’t think she was going to live through the weekend, she was looking so poorly.  She was having a hard time walking and was having difficulty making it all the way to the catbox on occasion.  I decided she was on her last days and that I should just give her whatever she wanted, so I started feeding her nothing but tuna fish, seeing as how she wouldn’t eat anything else anyway.  She pretty much scarfed it down along with the water that the tuna was packed in.  She has kidney disease, which demands a low-protein diet according to vets, so I was certain that the pure meat diet would do her in.

She kept hanging in there, though, despite my not being able to give her any meds: she just threw them back up.  After a few days, her appearance seriously improved and she even put on a little bit of weight.  Her fur looks better, and she’s not holed up in the bedroom like she has been for the last week.  She’s also eating food other than tuna now, which is another positive sign.  I think it’s too early to throw in the towel on the old girl quite yet!

Her turnaround on the tuna makes me second-guess myself about Yin-Yang.  What if I had tried to feed him tuna those last few days?  What if that had made him turn around?  Did I give up too soon?  I don’t think it would have helped.  He was so full of toxins by the time I was able to take him to the vet that it would have been almost impossible to flush them out without aggravating his heart condition.  Now that I’ve had a couple of weeks to review his health and behavior for the last few years, it’s quite evident that he was ill for several years longer than I originally thought, given the amount of water he was drinking for the last several years of his life.  Like, he had probably had kidney disease for at least five years if not more.  Longer than his mother, much longer.  Each cat responds to kidney disease completely differently, and he also had heart disease (which makes me guilty because he was always a bit overweight).

I really shouldn’t be beating myself up about his death, seriously.  I just really, really miss him, and I’m trying hard not to feel like I failed him somehow (which is so stupid: my friends tell me they want to come back as one of my cats, I spoil them so).  I just want so badly to be able to turn back time and do some things differently.  Hindsight and all that.  I keep getting jolted by little reminders that he’s not here, like looking for a photo on my phone and running across one that I took of him.  Or eating my yogurt and getting to the end.  He always liked me to scrape the last bits of yogurt out of the container and let him lick it off my spoon.  He’d sit patiently while I ate it and then stand up to get his treat at the end.  Just normal things, like noticing an overall reduction in food and water intake as well as a cleaner catbox, remind me that he’s not here any more.

I’ve had to get rid of several things that I just couldn’t bear to look at any more because they reminded me of his last couple of months with us.  My daughter and I agree that we’ll have to replace the purple rugs in her room where he slept most of those last couple of months, because we keep looking for him there.  There are other spots in the house where I reflexively look for him, and I suppose I will for a long time.  Fifteen years is a long time to get used to someone’s presence.

For now, though, I will try to focus on the happiness that is MamaCat’s recovery and enjoy not only her time with us, but also our other cat Samadhi’s increased attention and affection.  She’s a sweet cat who is exhibiting new behaviors now that her brother is gone.  It’s neat to experience them.

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