We had assembled for our annual Six Flags overnight and I had decided to do something different for entertainment this year. Usually we play foosball, ping pong – but mostly video games set up on three separate play areas rotating with 4 or 5 board games on the floor. There is always a line for the videos and an audience two or three deep. With a fourth video station available this year with the weii, I decided to opt for alternative play. Call it an experiment, grasp for the past or just a reminder fun is who you are with and how you embrace what you are doing, but I set out to change our normal evening.
Linked with the plan was the gentle movie Mary Poppins at the end to begin our wind down and honor the youngest among us with unquestionable appropriateness. I planned to have the games in three parts where everyone could and would participate. We had a paper football championship and also played two T-Boy originals – one-third of a ghost and the animal game. Two games promoted individual opportunities while the other required team cooperation and camaraderie.
Two hours flew by and the children were zealous, excited and focused as we used the tools of imagination, simplicity and reasoning. It was a heartfelt chance to step outside the sweeping arm of technological entertainment and lead instead of follow. The key ingredient was a few dads who were wiling to spend the time directly with the children and monitor the fun meter. A TV screen and game box with controls was merely replaced by the willingness to offer something different and thought provoking.
There is no doubt children become addicted to what is easy, dependable and predictable, but it is our job as parents to make sure we don’t let TV, videogames, I-Phones, I-Pods and other devices raise our children. What keeps them quiet, occupied and out of the way isn’t always good for them. Convenience and space can’t be our motivation for complacency. Our children can be starving for more and not even know it.
Affluence is a two-edged sword and we have to be careful what it cuts. Below the neck will thank us for the opportunity and the breaks will heighten appreciation for both worlds. Parenting continues to be the hardest job we love requiring our energy and efforts each day of our lives. Let nothing come between you and your child and health subsequent to involvement and participation in their chosen path and choices.
Moderation and versatility are adult skills unlearned unshared. College of good choices is a degree only a parent can administer. I still have kids tell me how much fun they had that night and how they wished they could “do it more often.”
YFTC & ITSOO,