Pretty early on, I became against children and electronics. As a teacher I had so many students who couldn’t “afford” a book or supplies for school but always had the latest and greatest phone, Nintendo, or other electronic. It drove me insane. I swore up and down that my children would be completely different. Let’s just say I failed. For quite some time, my kids had zero electronics. My husband and I didn’t have the money to buy them the latest game in the video game craze so their “electronics” consisted of LeapPads, Kindles Fires, the family television, and the microwave. The inevitable pressure from my kids on why they had no “cooler” electronics while their friends did led me to finally dust off a Nintendo Wii my husband and I had from our pre-child days when I had sworn to him I’d use it for the work out videos (another failure).
In the beginning, it was loads of fun. We had agreed to only get the Just Dance, some sports games, and some hunting and fishing games. We told ourselves this was a great idea because the kids would be actively playing video games as opposed to being sedentary while playing. We also agreed that we would limit the video game time and have total control over this (such an adorable thought).
Before we knew it, the kids had almost zero interest in going outside to play and actually began to get aggressive with one another over playing time, whose turn it was, and who won or lost. And their behavior with me started to deteriorate as well. I’d ask them to go do their chores and I’d be met with resistance. When I’d encourage them to go outside and play, it was like I was talking to a blank wall. All they wanted to do was play the video games.
For some time I was perplexed, I had no idea where this change was coming from. It hadn’t occurred to me that the innocent Wii could be the culprit. I mean, they weren’t playing violent video games. Then one day I witnessed the mother of all arguments between two of my kids because one “cheated” in a Wii sports fencing tournament (not even sure how that’s possible). They became so enraged with one another that they threw the “Wii sticks” down and almost went at it boxer style. That was the turning point for me. I asked God to help me figure out where this anger was coming from and the answer I received was nothing short of a miracle. (I know, maybe calling it a miracle is a bit far-fetched, but it sure felt like one.)
A storm came rolling its way through our house not long after the incident (that’s not the miracle, that’s an almost-daily occurrence). The miracle was that after that storm, one of the cables connecting the Wii to the TV was fried. Completely burned. And as far as we knew, lightning hadn’t struck the house. Truth be told, it was likely an easy fix but it was my opportunity to get rid of this plastic demon that had entered our home and so I ran with it. Joyously, I informed the kids that a wire had been fried and the Wii no longer worked.
Can’t we have it fixed? One of my savvy children asked. Nope!
Aren’t you upset about throwing away money? (I admit I may have cringed a little) No, it’s OK . . . we don’t want a safety hazard in the house.
Can we get another one? (The inevitable question.) You are more than welcome to ask Santa for one, but it may not happen.
Awwww!!! Mom!!! That’s so unfair!!! You are so uncool!!!! All my friends have video games and now we don’t!!! I am the only kid in the world that doesn’t have a video game!!!!! (An expected reaction.)
The first few days of Wii withdrawal were hard. My little Wii addicts were angry with me for not at least attempting to fix it. They insisted on driving me as crazy as they could with questions such as:
Can’t you please get it fixed? (Insert puppy eyes and angelic faces.) No. I already threw it away, child.
Mami, please, couldn’t you please fix it? I mean it was just teeny tiny wire that is messed up. I’m sure someone could fix it.
No my child, like I said before, I already threw it away.
Mami, but we promise to do better this time . . . we won’t fight, we will listen, we’ll do our chores!
NO!! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I SAID NO!!!!!
And finally, after what felt like an eternity (though it may have been only a few weeks, days, hours, or minutes, but who’s counting) they stopped asking for it. It was like rays of sunshine peeking out from the clouds after a storm. They started playing outside. They started building forts inside the house. They started getting along.
And though my house is messy again with sheets, pillows, LEGOs, balls, games, and the occasional worm (for fishing of course) I wouldn’t have it any other way; because they are playing, creatively, together.