Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 |
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My thumb is just starting to feel better.
For more than a week it was kind of tingling and sore from playing “Super Mario Bros.” on my son’s Nintendo DS. I had to beat World 8. And I played it until I did.
My thumb suffered as a result.
It’s all my dad’s fault.
An electrician by trade, my dad is a bit of an electronics junkie. He had a camcorder back in the days when you had to wear half the VCR on your shoulder with a strap. We had one of the first Atari video-game systems in our neighborhood.
I loved the game “Pitfall.” I could play for hours, until I successfully beat every alligator in every pond.
I don’t think my mom liked it and she certainly never played it. She, unlike my dad, resisted technology when I was a kid. I don’t think she allowed a microwave into our house until the late 1980s. And then she tried to cook her underwear in it because she claims Oprah told her it would sterilize them.
I can’t remember exactly when “Super Mario Bros.” first became popular, but I remember playing it a lot as a teen, learning tricks and tips from my friend’s older brother and his friends. I don’t suppose I was what today might be called a video-game addict, but I played enough to beat the game.
Into college and afterwards, I didn’t really give video games much thought. My husband and I weren’t the type to have any kind of system in our house for us to play.
When my oldest son turned 5 a few years ago, his aunts bought him a Gameboy. He liked it, but wasn’t all that interested yet. The next Christmas, the boys received a few of those video games where you plug a joystick into the TV and play. One of them was “Pac-Man.”
After putting the kids to bed one night, my husband and I looked at each other and raced downstairs to the TV. We played “Pac-Man” until 2 a.m.
We laughed and talked and cheered and tried to psych each other out.
I, of course, was the champion. We played the game so much that eventually I broke the joystick. Remember those?
A recent trip to Game Stop with a birthday-present gift card my 7-year-old received brought home the newest version of “Super Mario Bros.” for the DS. It’s different from the game I played as a kid, but not so different I couldn’t navigate through the worlds.
Whenever my boys were having a hard time getting through a certain level, they would bring the game to me to show them how to do it. I felt pretty cool.
Again, we played together, laughing and jumping up in excitement. They cheered me on and I cheered for them.
I know that video games have a reputation for being anti-social, anti-exercise and even psychologically damaging to kids. But I also think that they have some good points, too.
I spend time with my boys playing the games. It’s a challenge for them and me. We don’t play for eight hours straight. I don’t neglect to do things like feed them dinner or the laundry. They still spend a lot of time playing outside.
I liked bonding with my boys over “gaming.” And despite my sore thumb, I still turned the video game off with a smile. More importantly, my 7- and 8-year-olds were smiling with me.
• Mommy Talk is an online parenting blog written by Racine, Wis. Journal Times reporters Janine Anderson and Marci Laehr Tenuta. Find it online at www.journaltimes.com/mom
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