Who else is tired – dog tired – of fending off request after request from your children for the newest, hottest, blood-splattering and bone-breaking game? Is anyone else exhausted from explaining why it’s okay for a friend’s parents to give the thumbs-up to “Gorefest 2 – the Splattering,” but it isn’t appropriate for our house? Why we choose educational video games for kids, the same reason we don’t watch R-rated horror films. Or, to wit: why I’m unfair, why I’m a tyrannical goon, why I’m dead set on destroying his popularity.
Why life is unfair.
There’s always second-guessing. Is it unreasonable to deny him a game that, in fact, I’d somewhat like to play? I mean, I’m a gamer as well. I was his age not too horribly long ago, growing up in the infancy of console video games. I can say with little doubt that were the roles switched, were he my old man and I his frustrated son, I’d be begging, cajoling, and manipulating my head off to get the same games he wants. It strikes me as very unfair, honestly, that his friends are allowed to play the games that we don’t allow in our home. It’s unfortunate that parents don’t have some kind of secret pact in place to reach a consensus, a common agreement, on what’s okay and what gets 86ed.
Initially, his mom and I agreed to limit his gaming time to educational games for kids. And, at first, he was happy with whatever we gave him. Arthur was a common sight on the computer, telling a story, increasing vocabulary, encouraging reading. Mickey showed up now and again as well, jumping on numbers, helping reinforce the basic mathematics he’d been learning. He enjoyed the educational video games for kids because he saw himself as a kid. He was happy being a kid; in fact, we all were happy with his situation. Juice boxes for everyone!
Then, we stretched our rules a bit as he stretched out. He talked me into a baseball video game. He didn’t have to work too hard to convince me; as both a huge Mets fan and a at one point shameless video game addict, the idea of playing virtual baseball with my son was an easy concept to buy into. I turned around and sold the idea to mom. That wasn’t as easy. Baseball, as fun as it might be, was definitely not an educational video game for kids. I weakly mentioned something about the game teaching mathematics – division and averages and such – but we both saw the weak argument for what it was.