By Risa Green
Wow, thank God 2009 is over and gone. As far as years go, I have to say, that one was pretty sucky. But, onward and upward, right? I’m excited about 2010. I’ve got a new book coming out in the fall, I’ve got another one coming out in Holland this spring, and I’ve got all kinds of resolutions for how I’m going to make my life and the lives of my family members better this year. For example: I’m going to try to eat fewer processed foods. I’m going to be nicer to my husband than I am to people I barely know. I’m going to have more patience with my children. I’m going to cut back on how much tv they watch and how many video games they play. And, I’m going to cure cancer and bring peace to the middle east. Yeah, I know you’re scoffing at those last two, but seriously, I think they might be more doable than getting my five year-old son to give up Lego Star Wars Wii .
I bought the stupid game over a year ago, when we first got the Wii. At the time, my son loved Legos and was also obsessing over lightsabers, and in my boy-mom ignorance, I got him the game, thinking that it would a) be something that was appropriate for a four year-old, and b) be something that he could actually play. But I was wrong. Once he realized that the Wii game did not involve building Legos or swinging lightsabers, he lost interest in thirty seconds, and to my great relief, the game sat, untouched, in a drawer. Or at least it did, until my husband broke it out over winter break and wondered aloud whether my son might now be old enough to play, which was met by a rousing “Yeah!,” accompanied by an overly exaggerated fist pump. And thus, an addiction was born. Well, actually, two addictions were born. That night, after the kids went to bed, my husband played until two o’clock in the morning. Awesome.
For the last two weeks, our house has been ruled by Lego Star Wars. At every waking moment, it is all that my son/husband want to do, and if they’re not playing because I’ve insisted that they go outside and get some fresh air, it’s all my son wants to talk about. Mom, mom, mom, guess what? Daddy unlocked Jango Fett and Count Dooku, and Count Dooku has a dark force forcefield around him that you can only penetrate by using the light force to throw barrels at him, and then Yoda fights him and Pyow! Pyow! Pyow! [insert lightsaber fighting moves] he died and we cleared the whole level! To which I have no idea how to respond, because I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about. So I just say, that’s great, because based on the tone of his voice I think it is, although I’m not exactly sure.
But, now that it is a new year and school has started again, I’ve had to set some limits. So, on Sunday, I sat my husband down and told him that there must be rules. For example, no more three-hour Lego Star Wars marathons. No playing on school days. And, on weekends, there must be a time limit. We negotiated it down to two hours, which is, according to common business knowledge, a great negotiation, because neither side was entirely happy with it. At the end of our discussion, my husband went to my son to break the bad news. Which went something like this:
My husband: Son, mommy says that we’re not allowed to play Lego Star Wars so much anymore, because she thinks its bad for our brains.
My son: Pshaw! Why would they make video games that were bad for people’s brains?
My husband: That is a great question. But Mommy says we can only play on the weekends.
My son: What does that mean?
My husband: It means that mommy is a total bitch and we should use all of the violent skills we’ve learned playing video games to kill her in her sleep.
Okay, so I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what it sounded like to me. I mean, how did I become the bad guy in all of this? Why is it that I am the evil one for trying to be the responsible parent? Suddenly, I’m having a whole lot of sympathy for that Count Dooku guy. But of course, rather than shooting electrical currents out of my fingers, I instead resorted to breaking New Year’s Resolutions Numbers Two and Three (re: nicer to my husband and more patience with children) and proceeded to scream at both of them about how I WILL NOT have a child who is addicted to video games and if they don’t cool it I’m going to put the damn thing through the shredder when they’re at work/school. Which seemed to work, because they both quickly apologized and promised to abide by the new rules. And so far, it’s working. I mean, today, when I picked my son up from school, he asked if he could play Lego Star Wars when he got home, and when I reminded him about the rules, he sighed and said oh, yeah. And then when I asked him how his first day back at school was, he said it was great! which he never says. He usually he says it was good, or fine or he can’t remember. So why was it so great? Well, his friend, Alex, also plays Lego Star Wars, and Alex told him that when you get to a higher level, you can unlock ghost Obi Won Kenobi and Ghost Yoda, and that there’s something called Super Lightsabers!
So, yeah, like I said, I’m excited about 2010. Seems like we’re off to a good start, don’t ya’ think?