I can’t decide whether I love Minecraft Games for giving me the freedom to go for coffee every Saturday morning with Brian, or if indeed I hate the little brick bashing demon for eradicating my children’s memory of what it feels like to play real games. Games that actually require you to look at the person you are talking to. Games that require you to blink. Games that insist you walk around. Any game, other than Minecraft.
I’m being slightly hypocritical. I actually hate games. Physical, competitive games. But that doesn’t mean I want my children to follow in my footsteps, does it?
A love/hate relationship.
I’m convinced that everyone else’s parenting skills are better than mine.
They’ve all got this motherhood malarkey down to a tee I reckon.
It is Saturday morning. It is 9 am. As I head out of the door I hear the familiar whoosh of the computer starting up and I know that Minecraft will be on the agenda for the next two hours. I try to ignore that pang of guilt that every parent must feel when they’re choosing to turn a blind eye. The need for coffee and some adult conversation wins this time. But still, the parenting anxiety plagues me. Follows me out of the door.
“Hey! don’t forget me!”
That’s all you need on a Saturday morning, isn’t it? A coffee a pastry and a hearty serving of angst, please.
The Computer Games Enemies:
The Sporty Teenager:
The café door swung open and in bounced that teenager. If you’ve ever read a New Zealand sports magazine, I think he’s that model kid that advertises rugby boots or some sort of coconut water sports drink.
Me, with my paper cup in one hand a croissant with jam in the other. Him, with his muddy knees and sweat lathered hair, looking the picture of teenage boy healthiness, bellowing to his mum (who had her running shorts on and was ordering a ‘trim’ and looked more like she should be his girlfriend) for food.
He was hungry. He was sporty. He’d been on the pitch since 4 am. He’d been with the team. He’d been with the ‘guys’
Bang. My, parenting barometer goes flying right down. No sitting at home playing Minecraft games for this lad. Oh, no.
The Paranoid Mother:
I knew there was something I had to worry about this weekend and here it is.
“Why don’t our kids do sport?” I whisper to my husband.
Annoyingly, he refuses to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations or talk about them behind his coffee cup like me. He doesn’t know that if you speak about the person sitting behind you like this:
Can’t actually hear you. I decide he needs to sit in cafes more, like me. Get some practice.
Whatever sport your child does. It isn’t enough.
“They do karate.”
Ah, shad up Mr positive. That’s what I thought in my head. But because I’m 46 and really very mature, I refrained from verbalizing those thoughts.
Yes. I know both our kids are black belts in karate, but that’s on a Tuesday and Thursday night. That doesn’t count. It’s not on a Saturday morning, is it? There’s never anyone outside the village hall on a Thursday night when I drop off.
Especially if you Homeschool.
It needs to be a Saturday morning to have any credibility in this world. Especially if you homeschool like us.
If your kids don’t play sport on a Saturday morning? Then you are… well. I don’t know. You’re weird and so is your dog.
Every bloody time.
“No school today?”
Hi, person that I’ve never seen before in my life, No. They’re not at school today… we homeschool.
Wait for it… Wait for it…
“Really? But…what about the. Dun Dun Duunnnn… SPORT!”
Yes. You’re right. Let’s not worry about whether or not I can teach my children algebra (actually, umm, no). Or if I can give a plausible explanation as to why the moon is round (is it something to do with it whizzing through the air so fast?) or even, did Shakespeare write Hamlet? (I don’t know. Let’s watch Shakespeare in love, and we’ll find out). No. None of that, only:
“What about the sport?”
Minecraft Anxiety Comes Back With a Vengeance:
It’s getting worse. The anxiety. Rather than ignoring this beast of a teenager, and closing my ears to how he and his mates “nailed it”, I’m thinking back to what my own two beauties are doing.
On this beautiful Saturday morning, when it seems every other teenager worth their weight is out on some pitch doing something that involves a ball, my two?
They’re sat indoors. Playing bloody Minecraft games.
When I ran out of that door at 10 am this morning screaming the list of jobs I wanted to be done by the time I returned, one was still in her pyjamas and the other? Well. I don’t know about the other one because I only saw the back of his head. His face lit up by the artificial sunshine of brick man land.
Deflated and feeling familiarly inadequate, I suggest to Brian that we return home and do something outdoorsy with them. A bike ride. Climb the mountain, frisbee golf. Something, anything to send my guilt backpacking down the road. “As much as I’d like to, I have the car to wash and the bathroom to tile…” Hmm. Down to me then. Me and my anti-Minecraft attitude.
“As much as I’d like to, I have the car to wash and the bathroom to tile…” Hmm. Down to me then. Me and my anti-Minecraft attitude.
Back from the café. And they haven’t moved. Still sat there. Staring. Glued to it. (in all fairness the dishes had been done, but I think they’d used the dog blanket to dry the wine glasses.)
Mummy’s home! Yay! All kind and tolerant and relaxed from her time alone with Daddy. Hurray!
The Solution (but not one that I’d advise):
“Turn that bloody thing off. NOW’
“ H an n g on… I’ m…w…i…n.. n…in…g” fingers going ten to the dozen.
I should have been a nice parent. Like in the books. I contemplated this for about minus zero seconds. Reached over the hump of fleecy pyjama top and the cereal bowl. And clicked the little X.
Good job Liz. So mature. You really thought this one through.
All shouts and flinging arms and dramatics,
“I’m banning the computer. If you want to play games youll have to find something other than Minecraft to play. Like you used to” I
I’m on to a winner here. I can feel it. There’s no stopping me now.
The Typical Teen Reaction:
There’s the teenage scowl that would melt ice, followed by the sigh that would freeze it up again.
Like a gnawing little rat I proceed;
“If you were to put as much time into your piano as you do into Minecraft you’d be Mozart by now.”
This is indeed an odd comparison Liz, considering Mozart is dead.
My teen flounces out.
It’s pouring down, Brian has decided that today would be the perfect day to put a pull-up bar in the garage (probably so he can escape out of the loft) and I’m left here. That’s the downside to living in the country. Beautiful yes, but no transport. Two big, lanky, bored teenagers, circling me in the kitchen like hyenas.
“What’s there to do if we can’t play on the computer?”
I kid you not. Those were the exact words.
“Ermmm… think, think, think. Why don’t you read a book?”
The raised eyebrow.
A Rose Tinted Look at What Life Would Look Like Without Computer Games in our Family.
I ask myself am I being unrealistic? Are there any teenagers out there who get up on a wet Saturday morning and think, ‘I know. Forget Facebook, gaming or my memes. I think I’ll read a book. Or go outside and play frisbee golf.”
Don’t lie. You’re just saying that to make me feel better.
I know the answer is yes.
I just know it. I can see it through my rose tinted glasses.
The Mind Movie That Stars The Perfect Family…
It’s fantastic actually. If ever I get bored, I’ve got this film that runs 24/7 in my mind. Maybe you do too? It stars a fabricated family that looks a little like mine. There’s always a perfect husband. Cool and chilled.
A calm and beautiful wife, calm. Not frantic. Calm.
And these two wonderfully intelligent, funny, adorable teenagers. These teenagers do things like stand in the kitchen with their mother. Talking. Sharing funny tales of stuff that has happened throughout the day. They make smoothies with lots of green stuff in them, and they’re chatting, chatting, chatting. Laughing, Laughing, Laughing.
Drinking their green smoothies. Together. Liking their mum.
And do you know what? I can never see a phone with a picture of a girl with doggy ears, ANYWHERE!! Nope. No computer. No YouTube, No Minecraft games. Nothing. Only books. Glorious books.
And the mother? She’s smiling away and nodding in agreement with the child. She never EVER says;
“Is anyone going to empty these bloody bins or shall I just do it again?’. No. She never says that.
I could watch it all day. It’s rated a U. There’s never any bad language or violence. And the rude bits? They all take place in candlelight, and there’s this ever-present wispy fog surrounding the husband and wife. Oh and look! She’s laughing again. Never yawning and saying,
“where’s my Nurofen my stomach’s killing me”
No. never that. Just smiling. Wanting to join her fun-loving husband. In all things fun.
Stop Dreaming and Get Back to the Problem in Hand…
I wonder what rugby boy is doing now? Probably practising some fancy rugby throws with his dad. Getting Ready for next Saturday’s game. Out with ‘the guys’. Making his parents feel as though they’ve done a bloody good job.
I’m desperate. I don’t know what to suggest to them. They’re both just hanging around. Sighing. I go into my bedroom with a magazine and contemplate what life was like for me… growing up in a world with no computers.
What Life Was Like When There Were No Computers?
I think back to my own childhood. To my brother. To my sister. We weren’t homeschooled.We went to school. But we never played any sports on a Saturday. In fact, we were lazy little sods who given half the chance, would stay in and watch Swap Shop.
Sometimes, if my mum and dad went out to the shops, we’d have a farting contest on the landing upstairs, but that was about as sporty as it got.
Games We Played When We Were Desperate (but not ones that I would recommend)
Come to think of it, the only sport my friends and I actively participated in on a Saturday was ‘knock a door run’. Either that or phoning the operator from the phone box in the village and asking her if we could speak to E.T.
No computers back in my childhood. Everything was blissfully Minecraft free.
It’s Not all Minecraft Doom and Gloom!
But! I have just read from a very well informed article that playing Minecraft is actually beneficial to our youngsters. There. Apparently, it improves creativity. Encourages sportsmanship. Oh, Yes! I’m feeling better already. Thank you wonderful article. That’s all I needed to hear. You’ve saved my Saturday. You’ve saved my kids from frisbee golf. I’m sure they would lick your shoes if they could find you on Facebook.
Minecraft Stays! (for now…)
So what if my kids never play team sports on a Saturday? Neither did I and I’m alright (aren’t I?) I decide that Minecraft for a few hours at the weekend is no bad thing. Not just for all the reasons in the above article but remember, there’s the added bonus of Mum getting her coffee and quiet time. And that’s important. It’s decided. Minecraft is staying.
I admire from afar those parents who drive their kids to all of these sports at the weekend and stand and watch on the freezing cold sidelines, I really do. But face it, Liz. It ain’t you. And that’s ok.
My positive thinking brings me out of my bedroom a new woman.
All’s Well That Ends Well…
I tell them they can put the screens on.
Knock themselves out on musically. Put dog ears on their photos and send them to the world. Get on snap chat and send streaks. Smiley faces, heart eyes, unicorn. Rainbow.
Kill square block man with your hammer that won’t move sideways. Learn some more code. Be more creative.
And when they get bored of that? They can go and play ‘knock a door run’.
There are approximately 100 metres between each house on our road. That’d keep them fit…
Hand on heart, I’ve beaten myself up so many times about how my kids use their time. But let’s put things into perspective here. This is Minecraft. It’s hardly Grand Theft Auto. If you’re in a similar position to me, relax. It’ll be fine. Don’t compare yourself to other parents or your kids to mister sporty teenager. You’re not silly and neither am I. You’re not going to let them spend 24 hours a day on it and neither am I. So let’s stop beating ourselves up about it. Just remember. Creativity. Sportsmanship. Laughter.
Remember to thank Minecraft as you sip your cappuccino…