If you would have told me a year ago that I would be playing video games on a regular basis, I would have laughed in your face. But a lot can happen in a year. And most importantly, it’s not what I won’t do, but what I’m eager to do for my kids.
Most days, after school, my kids would come home, eat a snack, and rush upstairs. At first, I didn’t mind at all. It kept me from sitting in my car an additional 20 mins just for some alone time. I could use the restroom in peace and get a good 30-45 mins of reading in. Then one day I realized something: whatever they were engaged in upstairs, they were quiet and content.
Quiet kids are suspicious kids.
After weeks, well probably a couple of months if I’m honest, I finally decided to venture upstairs and investigate.
Behold, they were playing video games. Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Mario Kart, and Smash Brothers to name a few. They were having fun, bonding, and cooperating. All the things I try to get them to do on a daily basis. But whenever I suggest we do something fun, someone has something negative to groan about. If I even mention the word “cooperate” eyes roll and shoulders droop. But here they were. Doing all the things I beg them to do on a daily basis. Well I’ll be [email protected]
I went downstairs, sat on the couch, and realized a few hard truths. My kids were having fun, bonding, cooperating, and all that good jazz without me. They sought peace and relaxation away from my presence. Moreover, my sense of “fun” didn’t match with theirs. My extroverted personality wanted to take them out, have them experience something new, and make new friends. Sure a trip someplace new was entertaining, but it wasn’t their go-to for a relaxing afternoon.
So I decided to do something revolutionary. I asked the kids to bring their gaming system downstairs into the living room.
If I couldn’t bring them into my world, I would join theirs. I watched hours of mind-numbing videos on YouTube with them. I learned what they thought was funny and some honestly amazing facts from YumSum. I watched my daughter take her job in Animal Crossing seriously. (She’s an interior decorator.) I watched them build whole worlds on Minecraft and realized how incredibly talented and creative they are.
And I would have missed it all.
There’s this game called Game-Builder’s Garage that allows the kids to build their own video games from scratch using computer coding. The oldest twin has created soooo many of his favorite web-based video games using coding that it makes my head spin. His ability to understand the coding is breathtaking. He could seriously become the world’s greatest game creator. And I would have missed it all.
When they play StarDew Valley, a farming game, I watch them make a plan and execute it using cooperation. They even fuss at each other about not doing what one said they were going to do! Talk about integrity. Keep in mind, I have 1 game system and 4 kids. To make things fair, they (all by themselves) created a schedule to make sure that everyone had an equal amount of lead playing time. They were instilling core values into each other and again, I would have missed it all.
I slowly moved from being a bystander to being an active participant. The kids made me a file on the game Stardew Valley. I fell in love with the game. I have a nice little farm with fruits, vegetables, cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens. I’m also married to a handsome writer. There’s cool tasks to complete to gain hearts from the villagers and everything. The kids soon added me to the gaming rotation and I am thoroughly enjoying myself.
Video games have honestly brought me closer to my kids and made me realize all the great and amazing talents and personalities I was missing out on. It feels good to be genuinely interested in what they are interested in. Video games are the one thing that bonds me with all of my 4 kids. Furthermore, I see the benefits of gaming evident in my own kids. (Here are a few scholarly articles for you to peruse if you choose: Benefits of Playing Video Games and Educational Benefits of Playing Video Games.)
When I was telling my Mommy how much I was enjoying playing video games with the kids, she did only what a mother would do: she bought me my very own Nintendo Switch!!!! WITH a cool carrying case.
I now have a total of 4 games on my Nintendo Switch: Stardew Valley, Mario Party, Zumba, and My Time in Portia. I love my Nintendo Switch and I love the time I get to spend with my kids. Don’t worry, I still sit in my car or lock myself in the bathroom for a legit 20 mins when we get home. But it feels nice to be snuggled in the living room surrounded by family after a long day at work.