From the time the Thanksgiving dishes were put in the dishwasher on that Thursday night last November, the official kickoff of the Christmas season in homes all over America, all we heard for the next three-and-a-half weeks was how very much we NEEDED a Wii.
Now, as a board-certified ’80’s girl, I know my way around Pac-Man and Centipede. Heck, we even had an Atari system for a while. But the Wii (and its competition) had me baffled. So many games. So many controls. It’s like wallpaper books and paint chips–too many choices and I become easily overwhelmed.
But Oscar and Edgar NEEDED a Wii, or so they said. So I researched. And then when their grandparents solicited our suggestions for ideas for Christmas gifts, it seemed like the perfect pairing.
Part of me, of course, felt as though I was succumbing to the lure of technology, that I should have been able to keep them from this for another year or two–the part of me that prefers a 19th-century novel to the television, the part that would rather use my hands to dig in the dirt than to tap on a keyboard. But the other part prevailed–the one that knows kids need to connect with other kids; and if the Wii was how they were accomplishing this, then as much as is reasonable, we would allow them to participate.
Christmas came, and they opened their gift; and a few days later Don set it up. (I hid in the other room, probably with a cup of tea, only half-listening to the myriad instructions that seem second-nature to my six-year-old but presented an insurmountable learning curve for me.)
For a few months, Oscar and Edgar seemed mildly intrigued–a game here, a game there. Nothing in excess, not in the least.
But then something happened this past Saturday: Wii Bowling (not a bad game, all things considered). A mini tournament happening between Oscar and Edgar. About five minutes in, though, Edgar remembered that in one of his stashes of toys he had toy bowling pins. He ran to get them. He set them up in the dining room. Oscar came out and asked him what he was doing. Edgar told him he was playing real bowling–with a twist. He was going to be one of the pins. He asked his brother if he wanted to play. Oscar got a small ball, tossed it toward the pins and his brother (the best, most expressive pin of all), and declared after a single round, “This bowling beats virtual bowling any day.” And then they played–together, cooperatively, and whimsically–for 45 minutes.
It’s hard to say if this spells the end of the Wii and electronic games–probably not. But the fact that they came to the conclusion themselves that a real life is better than a virtual one gives me hope that my sons, too, may one day opt to read instead of watch television, reside in nature instead of in front of monitor, and choose a cup of tea when the rest of the world is moving at warp speed. And I’ll be right there with them–not one of the bowling pins (I may be a tad too old for that)–happily unplugged.