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“A Chorus of Calendar Reminders”

We thought the kids’ iPads — and their brilliant calendar reminders — would streamline our lives. Instead, the cacophony of daily alerts is so loud and annoying that my kids end up ignoring or dismissing them… and relying again on Mom and Dad.

Earlier today, I got in a heated argument with one of the kids’ iPads.

More specifically, I wrestled with a calendar alert, set for 7:15 am, reminding Jayden to take his morning medication for attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). But he or one of his siblings must have hit the snooze button, then they left for school and he forgot his iPad (probably because they were running late). So today I’m working from home, and I have no choice but to turn it off myself.

However, I’m struggling to work up the nerve — for a number of reasons. First, why should I be the one to turn it off? It’s Jayden’s reminder, which I had him set so I wouldn’t spend all morning saying,

“Jayden, did you take your medicine?”

“Jayden, take your medicine.”

“Jayden! Why haven’t you take your medicine yet?!”

Second, Laurie and I try to allow natural consequences for the kids’ irresponsibility. If they lose the remote control, for example, they lose TV privileges until they find it. So he needs a natural consequence for ignoring his reminder. I have no idea what this punishment should be. But, you know, it’s the principle of the thing…

Finally, turning off the calendar reminder feels like giving up. It means I have to be the responsible one in the family. Again! I understand I’m Dad, and it’s my job to be responsible for my younger kids, especially those with various diagnoses. But I get weary of keeping up with medications, chores, fixing hair, and remembering glasses.

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have an Executive Function Deficit?]

When the school district issued iPads to all students, I saw an opportunity to make our lives a little simpler. I don’t need a hundred reminders on my phone anymore. The kids program their own reminders on their iPads to learn more responsibility. Sometimes, however, it just feels like a new way for them to be irresponsible and for Laurie and me to be driven insane. No sooner does one reminder for medication go off, then another goes off for another kid. I watch one kid turn the alarm off.

“Which reminder is that?” I ask.

“To put on my glasses.”

“So why aren’t you putting on your glasses?”

“I need to find them.”

“Where did you put them last night when your alarm went off to put them away?”

“I don’t know.”

So I’ve been listening to the alarm all morning, and growing increasingly frustrated. Finally, I go downstairs and shut it off. Then I set a reminder on my phone for this afternoon to have Jayden take his meds. Then I wonder if I should put a reminder on my phone to be a little more patient with the kids. But I know I’d probably either snooze it or close it out without giving it a second thought.

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