Monday, June 28, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em . . .

My mind has long been divided on the issue of media in the home. When Drew was a toddler, I thought it would be fun to let him experience some of the shows I had enjoyed as a child. Then I read something about babies and brains and television and how terrible it all is. Our TV was immediately turned off. (When I stumble on a new idea, I don't often ease into it. I go all the way, right away. Without warning.) I religiously avoided the evil box, making sure to emphasize my pursed lips, huffing breaths and eyeball rolling whenever my poor husband wanted to catch a Seahawks game.

The following years mellowed me a bit. I learned that it was counterproductive to scream at my children to turn their heads when walking through the electronics department. I learned that it was slightly rude to get up and leave the room when visiting with friends or family who enjoyed watching a Sunday afternoon game. I also learned that family movie or basketball game nights can be awfully fun and that there are a lot of great videos out there to enhance learning and spark curiosity. (Furthermore, I figured that it would be nice to support my husband who owns a video production company.)

Then last year I was hit with the Wii. Drew had saved his money, and Dad had said, "Okay." I had raised my eyebrows. Hold on. Video games? I'm sorry. We don't do video games. I had visions of my dear boy, sprawled like a vegetable across the couch, eyes glazed, mouth drooling. My husband knew what I was thinking. He gently pointed out that owning a Wii didn't automatically mean vegging out in front of the tube with that horrendous glazed look you hear about.

The Wii was purchased. We agreed to disagree. With the air of a martyr, I announced that the Wii would fall under Dad's jurisdiction. The kids would have to ask him if they wanted to play, because I would always look for a way to say no. And I stoically returned to my pursed lips, huffing breaths and eyeball rolling.

Friday evenings would often find Jamie and the kids jumping and laughing and screaming while whipping around remotes and keeping track of points. Avery would challenge her father to a boxing match. Aidan and Bethie would fall into hysterics with cow racing. Drew would say, "Hey Mom. Want to bowl?" And I'd find that washing the dishes was somehow more pressing.

One day, while everyone was having this wretched fun, it occurred to me that maybe I could actually embrace this difference and enjoy time with my family. I shuffled over and meekly said, "I bowl." They smiled and handed me the remote. Turns out I'm a pretty good bowler.

I'm not a convert yet. But I'm also not opposed to a little bowling every now and then. The other night, when the younger ones were in bed, Drew invited me to try a little Wii archery for a change. It's not often that he and I spend time alone together. So I agreed. We did the thing called "bonding," which I am slowly realizing can actually happen in front of a screen when wisely handled. (An interesting article on video games recently appeared in Focus on the Family's publication, Thriving Family.) The time flew by, and my son glanced at the clock. "It's getting late, Mom. I better get to bed." I watched this responsible young man put the controls away and head upstairs. "Goodnight, honey. It was fun," I called back.

I never would have guessed it, but the Wii actually made it's way onto my 1,000 Gifts list this week. Not because of what it is, but because of the unique opportunities it's given me to bond with my son. Sometimes we bond by shooting hoops in the street. Sometimes we make chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes we pull out a game like Bananagrams or Set. And sometimes, we bowl.

Highlights from this week's gift list:

*Girls in Mama's

*Sunblock on little noses

*Boys catching frogs

*Toothless, grinning boy covered in dust, peach juice and band-aids

*Wii bowling with Drew

*Avery humming "Come Thou Fount"

*Daisy chains

*A full tank of gas . . . and the boy who beg
s to help pump. While wearing his great-grandfather's tam-o-shanter, of course.

*Showing Mama what she learned at the gym

*Turning a jump rope

*Having my nails done . .
. by a four-year-old

*Helping Bethie meet a summer goal: A visit to the Humane Society

holy experience
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