The great ‘screen time’ debate has reared its head again, this time after pediatricians concluded there is no evidence that sitting in front of computers is bad for our kids.
Pretty much since the birth of the microchip, preventing kids from frittering away their formative years at the expense of traditional childhood pursuits has been a perpetual problem for parents.
I am no exception as my two would spend the day glued to a device but, as a nominal grown up, it is my job to come up with healthier alternatives, which is easier said than done. There are only so many country walks you can go on and visiting stately homes with a rumbustious three year old is never going to end well. So we did what millions of others before us have done - we looked for a pet.
The obvious solution would be to get a dog but as I have an aversion to putting faeces in my coat pocket, that option was ruled out, so we are left with the ‘easier’ alternative of a goldfish and gerbils. While they have provided plenty of welcome respite from laptops, they are not without their challenges.
Nobody informed me that gerbils would take so much looking after, although my only real involvement comes every fortnight when I am called upon to cart the gerbilarium - a big glass tank, half the size of a coffin - outside to be hosed down. Just before Christmas, I managed to drop the said rodents’ house, causing it to crack. Finding a replacement over the festive period has proved to be easier said than done and Ed and Bruno, named after Sheeran and Mars, have been residing in a taped-up abode, which wouldn’t look out of place in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro.
The goldfish is easier right? Wrong. I was woken by the cry of our nine year old who discovered her pal floating on the top of his tank. It turns out he was constipated. It wasn’t long before we discovered that bunged-up cyprinidae respond well to cooked garden peas on the end of cocktail sticks, which I consider something of a delicious irony. Needless to say George, now Lazarus, has never been healthier and despite all the trauma, I am still of the opinion that pets trump iPads every time.