Monday, March 31, 2008
We Don't Need No Stinkin' (Electronic) Toys
We carted off at least a thousand dollars worth of additional stuff to sink our boat. Among the prizes were a dozen really nice plastic containers, four fishing rods complete with reels, and two Canon Powershot cameras including one underwater case. For the girls, the biggest prize was two Nintendo Gameboys.
To put this treasure in perspective, it is important to note that the girls do not have any game boxes, cubes, computers, or hand helds. Our only computer games are of the Jump Start/Chessmaster variety. It's not that Dr C and I are morally, ethically or religiously opposed to video games. In fact, the girls and I played World of Warcraft for a year with the consistency and dedication of novitiates in a nunnery. While Aeron only managed a level 14 priest, Jaime was up in the 40s hunter and I had a mid-60 shaman before boredom set in.*
We simply do not have the money. We do not have the space. And, it turns out, we do not have the inclination. For two days, the girls did nothing but play with those Gameboys. Actually, they did one other thing – they argued over whose turn it was to play with the Gameboy since we only found two and mathematically it just wasn't working out.
And then the arguing stopped. In fact, the Gameboys stopped. They didn't stop functioning... I actually tested one to make sure. No, they simply stopped using them. One got kicked under a seat, the other was lost in Jaime's capacious purse. No one cared. Now, I'll occasionally see one of them pull out a pair of headphones and start messing around with a controller, but for the most part, the Gameboy phase is officially over.
Which totally justifies my refusal to buy these things. The girls have never grown out of the mode wherein the packaging has more entertainment value than the present.
The behavioral arc with television is roughly the same. The day they show up at their grandparents, it is impossible to extricate them from the TV. They are stuck to it like starfish to a dock piling, all eight arms wrapped around the device with super glue strength. You can pry off one long arm with a wrench and a champagne cork pop only to find all previously detached limbs whipping around the base with renewed force.
So I don't even try. Because after about 48 hours of this, the girls get bored. They drift out of the TV room with glazed eyes and drool on their chins, grab a handful of Oreo cookies, and disappear outside. For the rest of the visit, they may be found watching a Disney channel movie or Nic @ Nite for a few hours before bedtime, but largely the cable industry has lost its hold on my children.
And you can't really play with something that doesn't play back. We don' need no stinkin' electronic toys. Just give us the real thing, two hours of parental neglect, and a handful of like-minded kids. Welcome to the next level.
* Of course, all Horde. I'm surprised you'd have to ask.