Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paddington Station

My study can be a bit like Paddington Station. I do tend to leave the door open so my family walk in and out whenever they please. But, even if I shut the door they walk in and out anyway. I suppose, they all know that is where they will find me.

Sometimes I worry that I am neglecting the children and maybe I shouldn't be working or being distracted by my PC when they are home, after school and in the school holidays, etc. But, I do like it in my study.

I was reading the other day a book called, Detoxing Childhood by Sue Palmer . In it Sue made some very valid points about being a parent in the 21st century. I wrote a review of the book for Write Away. See: Detoxing Childhood. In the book she pointed out the latest addiction, which she termed 'pigeon post'. This is where in any spare moments people think, 'Oh - I'll just go and check the email.' Then once logged on may spend ages on their correspondence, quite forgetting the family. I do this all the time. I am addicted.

Sue Palmer compared this addiction to the experiments the psychologist, B. F. Skinner, did on pigeons. He found if you gave pigeons intermittent, unpredictable rewards, the pigeons would peck enthusiastically at a particualr spot - even to the point some would peck their beaks totally blunt. Emails are my intermittent rewards. I am a pigeon and probably just as stupid as one in that I am not even sure I want to put it right. Getting emails makes me happy, especially if they contain good news or are from a dear friend.

However, most of the time the children are just as happy to be getting on with things on their own. I remember as a child I loved playing in the street, my parents never knew half the things I got up to. But, I think they purposely wait until I am fully engrossed in a piece of writing before they walk in and interrupt me. It takes ages for me to start to write and just as long to get going again when I’m interrupted.

The other time they like to all congress in my study is when I’m on the phone. Yep, I can guarantee anybody who is in the house, not just the kids, will come into my study if I need to make a phone call.

Yet, I know they would not be competing for my attention like this if I just switched the computer off, or made the phone calls whilst they were at school, or in bed. Maybe, it is a problem of working from home? Organising the time around the children is easier said than done. In my review Detoxing Childhood, I mentioned the need for a new kind of self-help group. I think I am one of the people who needs to enrol on one of these.

My kids are the modern equivalent of 'latch key children'. I wonder if there is a term for it?


Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Hmm, I think I must suffer from the same pigeon addiction thingie... she said pecking at her keyboard, her eyes beadily watching for signs of life in her inbox. It's tragic, isn't it! :-)

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

I know,
some days if I'm waiting for someone to get back to me I can spend all day hitting the Receive Mail button.