Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Energy Drain and Wizard 101

What does an online video game have to do with draining your energy? Or why am I even writing about either of those subjects on a homeschooling blog?

Well, let me tell you! (Step right up!)

OK, so you know I'm taking this Love & Logic class for homeschooling families. Last week's class was especially interesting to me, and I'd like to talk about one of the Love & Logic techniques they taught.

It's called the Energy Drain.

Have you ever had a child bouncing around you, throwing chatter at you like volleys from the enemy, and felt that you could feel yourself getting weaker and more and more exhausted that you just had to go sit down? Or felt your blood boiling inside your veins when your children are bickering for the thousandth time, and you just have to explode, sending them all to their rooms and falling just short of pulling all your hair out?

If you have, then you've experienced the Energy Drain.

It happens any time our children weary us. When they talk incessently without giving us  a second to think. When they don't do what we've asked them to do, though we repeated it a million times. When they fight us on school tasks, home chores or any number of other things that we ask of them. I'm sure you could think of at least a dozen other ways your children weary you.

Here's what Love & Logic suggests you do, when your children are wearing you out:

  • When you (fill in the blank), it really drains the energy out of me. So, instead of allowing the behavior to continue, or getting freakishly angry, state the fact of your being. You're getting worn out, and your children are causing it.
  • Instead of freaking out, yelling and sending people to their rooms, say "It always feels better when (fill in the blank)" and let them know the kind of behavior that makes you happy.
  • If your children insist on complaining to you, or including you in their sibling arguments, ask "Do you really want me to spend my energy on this?" because if you do, you might have less for something else, something more important to them.
  • Post a list of Energy Replacements in a place where your children can see them. These might include chores you don't normally do, but that always need done. Or things your children could do for you that would please you, like pay for a babysitter so you can go out for some alone time, or draw you a bath and give you some uninterrupted time. The list will be unique to you but must include things that would truly be a benefit and blessing to you.
At first when I heard this, I couldn't imagine myself ever using those words "draining my energy," but I thought the concept was interesting and talked with my husband about it. That's where the video game comes in.

We play Wizard 101 together as a family. My husband travels a lot, but while he's away, we get online together every night and play this game together. We each have our own avatars in the game, and we can talk to each other, like instant messaging, but in live time right in the game. So it's like we're there having a conversation together. We play games together, battle bad guys together. We feel connected in this way.

In the game, there is a spell wizards can cast called the Fire Elf. It's an annoying little spell that has a tiny red elf bouncing around giggling until he pounds you with a small explosion and then continues to run around you for three more rounds, each round hitting you with increasingly damaging explosions.

David doesnt' hesitate to equate Xander's incessant chatter to the Fire Elf. He thinks "energy drain" is like the snow-globe filled with red liquid that represents our wizards' health in the game, their energy.

We talked for a long while about how we could relate the things the boys do in real life to spells we cast in Wizard 101. And how the draining of energy in real life is very much like the draining of health from the red globe in the game.

So now over the past few days we've been using the Energy Drain and relating it to the game. The boys laugh, but totally get it because they have the visual in their heads, they understand

It's been a fun and light-hearted way for us to introduce this new technique into our family. So far, we've been benefitting greatly from this class and from the Love & Logic techniques. I'm glad I am taking it!