There are a lot of theories out there about the best way to raise children. These mostly come from people without kids, but a shocking amount of parents manage to form strong opinions about this subject too. Which they must do in-between chugging Merlot and crying in the shower, I imagine.
I’ll admit I used to be one of those parents. With lofty ideals about proper nutrition and preschool STEM activities and basic human hygiene.
But that was before. Before the machine. Before…THE GAME.
Now none of it matters. Nothing matters. Nothing except…THE GAME.
Well, I mean, and my children and my husband and our collective health and world peace and our extended families and our beloved dog and protecting the environment and Jeff Goldblum because he’s a national treasure and all our friends.
But NOTHING ELSE.
It started innocently enough, like most of these scenarios that end up spiraling into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I bought my husband one of those Nintendo Classic consoles for Christmas. You know, the ones with all the games from our childhood? PacMan. Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros., ONE, TWO AND THREE.
And it quickly became clear once we turned it on that my family is unlikely to do anything for the next 15 years other than play Nintendo.
Like moths to a super pixelated light, my husband and I pressed our noses to the screen, that oh-so-unforgettable music filling our ears. The music of the angels, if angels sported mullets and Jordache jeans and oversized, unflattering eyeglasses.
It was all so familiar, and yet somehow new, considering it had been close to three decades since either one of us had felt those comforting buttons beneath our fingers. Almost immediately we fell into that old trance, eyes glazed and fingers moving like lightning, murdering everything in our path with glee.
Our children, curious as to why we were refusing to feed them or take them for walks or generally acknowledging their existence in any form, eventually wandered over and were also immediately dragged under the spell of the Nintendo. All too soon, requests of “can I play next?” started pouring forth from their lips, eventually escalating into shouts of “IT’S MY TURN NOW!” Which, as their parents, we very maturely responded back “NO, IT’S STILL MY TURN!”
We haven’t cleaned in weeks. Empty pizza boxes are stacked like fortresses around our living room, with discarded juice boxes and wine bottles acting as moats around them. All of our hair has started to resemble the characters on those TV shows about Vikings.
Sometimes, in those brief moments where I blink and remember there is a life outside of rescuing the princess, I wonder if I should be worried about what kind of damage this is doing to us. Especially the kids. Everyone is always yelling about the importance of limiting screen time and how video games are bad for developing brains and that Cheetos apparently don’t contain all the nutrients a body needs.
But then, happily, it’s my turn again and those silly thoughts shoot right out of my head with the speed of a jumped-upon turtle shell in Super Mario Bros.
Besides, I choose to think of this whole thing as more like how families of yore used to sit around the fireplace, reading classic literature out loud to each other and bonding or whatever. Only instead of a fire we have a magic box that makes little Italian men run and jump and squish evil mushrooms sporting heavy eyebrows. And is there truly any more of a bonding experience than witnessing your 2-year-old finally learning how to run AND jump at the same time as opposed to just walking into a wall for eight minutes straight? I mean…
There is only one thing truly missing from my life right now. So if someone could just leave Doritos and Jolt Cola on my front porch, I’d really appreciate it.