My family had unconnected, stepped into a haze without internet while my parents drained their sabbatical. They must have read some ancient parenting manuscript that preached children love to stay in decrypt cottage, to stroll amid pasture, and to swim in pond. We were spending our vacation in such a place far from our house. Our cottage was a heaven for 15th century kids. But for 2K kids though…
My six-year-old brother, Chris, sat frozen at the edge of the front parlor couch, staring senselessly at the aquarium. The goldfish sent air bubbles, and the angelfish wove around the fake corals and plastic reeds; Chris’s eyes saw nothing, and his fingers swiped the empty air instead of a touch screen. Taking away his mobile phone had paralyzed him, trapped him.
I put an old newspaper bundle before him, dusting away my hair pasted with cobwebs from the storeroom.
“Chris, what do you say? Do you want to make a kite?” I said.
“Your own kite, Chris,” I repeated.
“At least, look at my face.” Nothing. No reply. He did not even look at me. My mother’s laughter traveled in through the open door. She was happy, as fools are. Chris will act like a sensible little boy during the barbecue she and my father were setting up out in the yard. They will never suspect he must be in rehab; they believe his acts. He doesn’t want to be in rehab, but he needs to hold phone in his hand. What if I gave him just that?
I shoved my mobile into his hands. His eyes lit up greedily. He did not look up before he turned the mobile on. Then he dashed it down, cracking the screen.
“No net,” he snarled at me.
I whacked his head and said, “Make a kite before barbeque.”
“Or I tell mother to put you in rehab.”
He wailed. No one will believe the boy thrashing on the floor, clutching a broken mobile like a talisman, was stock-still a moment ago. I ignored his tearless sobs but sat beside him with news paper and stationery and started cutting the paper. Chris understood. When a tantrum doesn’t yield results, he must bend. Taking another paper, he begun copying me, his eyes clouded with rage. He picked up the scissors and pasted the tails with apathetic fingers, devoid of childish curiosity. I thought my eighth attempt to pull him out of this haze was a failure. But I cannot despair; there are still three papers’ list of ideas to revive him. I watched how he reacted carefully. During my hawk-eyed vigil, he paused and his brows rose; he was thinking. How to pull the thread through the kite?
Make him pause and think—that will be my mission during his vacation. If that was the way to wean him away from his mobile fixation, so be it. There is a whole world outside his screen to think.