Like everyone else, our house is coming down from the sugar high of the holidays and we’re trying to get things back to normal — that is, IF my house was really filled with normal people :).
One of the things we did this weekend was to sort through my son Jake’s closet and clean out his toy shelves. I found things he played with three times about 2 years ago and then it got shoved back into the dark corners of his closet. By the time I was done, I had two large garbage bags to be tossed in the dumpster and the back of my car loaded up for a drop off to the Goodwill. It felt good to clear out all that stuff. Hopefully, some young child will enjoy Jake’s first reader books and The Cars pop-up tent he played in once.
Cleaning out his toddler toys started me thinking about how much he’s grown. Jake is now the proud age of 9 and this was the year his dad decided to spend who-knows-how-much on all sorts of electronic games. When I was married to Jake’s dad there was one thing we actually agreed upon – we were not going to buy Jake any electronic games like xbox, Nintendo DS or a Wii. We knew we couldn’t stop him from playing at his friend’s house but when he was home, he was not going to sit for endless hours staring at a screen and playing games.
Every time I’ve shared this with another parent, their first response is always ‘good luck with that’ and ‘I’m sure you’ll give in.’ I will occasionally let Jake play Angry Birds on my phone but he’s limited to an hour and that’s all the electronic game playing that happens in our house.
Now that Jake’s dad and I are no longer a WE, his dad has the right to do what he wants in his house. And last year, Jake got a Mario Kart Wii for his birthday. For the holidays, he got a Nintendo DS in 3D with more Mario Kart games as well as a stack of games for his Wii. But at our house, I said no.
I’m here to tell you folks, I’m holding my ground on this one and I haven’t given in. I gave a lot of thought to his presents this year. My regular readers know about Jake and his imagination so when I went out shopping, I was on a mission to find toys where Jake could create what he saw on the screen.
Instead of a Nintendo DS 3D, I bought him this Angry Birds game where you build your own towers and use a slingshot thing to shoot the plastic Angry Birds to knock the pigs down.
Instead of a Mario Kart Wii, he has Mario Kart tracks he puts together. He tests out his track designs with his battery-powered Mario Kart race cars. He’s played with this thing for hours trying to see how high he can make the ramp and still have the cars make it around the track.
My favorite present was this football mat. I had to custom order it and the look on his face was priceless. So instead of playing some Madden football game on a TV screen, Jake makes up his own football games.
Jake has been collecting these football helmets for a few years. He can play a complete football game from the first kickoff to the last field goal. Some of his games have lasted for days and will go into overtime. He’ll make a scoreboard broken up into each quarter so he can keep track of the score.
He was so excited to have an actual field with the yards on it that he kept calling me over to see the instant replay from his game. Jake will also make the calls as the ref, do commentary about the game like the announcers and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the crowd cheering when someone makes a touchdown.
I’m sure Jake doesn’t understand why I won’t buy him any electronic games. He’s stopped asking and I know there are days when he’s counting down the time when he can go to his dad’s to play his Wii. But that’s how the mind of a 9 year-old boy works.
To all those doubters out there who thought I’d give in … just take a look at the presents I bought. I’m holding my ground on this one because I know my son. I know that when he gets older, he’ll appreciate how much his mother pushed him to use his imagination. He’ll realize he learned how to create what he saw on the screen and make it better than any electronic game he could possibly imagine.