The Joy of Gaming With Your Child

For this Christmas post, I wanted to share an experience from a couple of weekends ago that I hope will be entertaining, especially for any parents out there.  Let me set the scene.

As you may know, I have a young child - a seven-year-old son.  Like many (if not most) little boys, he really likes video games.  We limit his screen time, usually to an hour a day, but we allow him to choose what he wants to do with it.  He can watch TV, or use his Kindle, or, on the weekends, play the Wii.  (Not WiiU or Switch - just a plain-old Wii that we've had forever and barely used before he was born.)

Important background information: While my son is generally a very happy child, he's growing and losing teeth at the moment, so he's a little...difficult on some days.

So on this particular Saturday, around 3:30 in the afternoon, my son announces that he hasn't had his electronics yet today and would like me to play Wii with him.  OK, that's fine. Usually he wants to play Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers, but the previous week he discovered Super Mario Wii, so that's what he wants to play.

Super Mario Wii box art Super Mario Wii box, courtesy of WikiMedia

This is bad news.  Why?  Because inexperienced seven-year-olds and platformers don't mix well.  His hand-eye coordination is still developing and he doesn't really "get" the puzzle aspect of platforming.  So, needless to say, he doesn't do very well.

Now, in the good old days of the original Super Mario Brothers, this would not have been a problem.  He would die quickly and then I'd take my turn and we'd go back and forth.  But Super Mario Wii is a cooperative multi-player game, so you actually both play at the same time.  And not only is it cooperative, but the players can interact with each other, meaning that you can bounce off another player's head, or push them along the screen.

At this point you might see where I'm going.  I'm sure this can be a very fun way to play, but when you're playing with someone who can't really control their character and doesn't fully understand the objective of the game, this is a recipe for frustration.  I end up playing the same levels over and over because my adorable and wonderful child whom I love very much keeps getting in my way and getting us both killed.

Fortunately, on this particular day I had the foresight to grab that bottle of Jack's Abbey bourbon-barrel aged lager wine that's been in the refrigerator for the two months (as I mentioned in my fitness post, I don't drink much these days) before I sat down to play.  That helped me get through the gaming session and see the humor in the situation.  But on those days when things aren't going well or I didn't get much sleep, these sessions can be very trying.

But at least he's having fun and hopefully building some good memories.  And he is improving, slow but sure.  So I'm glad we can do this together, even if it's not always easy.  Thus is parenthood.

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