It’s not the typical mom against video outrage that a plethora of parents express every day in this country. I don’t really mind that my kids enjoy it. Nor do I feel that it’s rotting their brains, leading them towards obesity or peppering their psyches with too many images of death and destruction. I hate it because it’s not fun.
Frankly, it makes me tense. Every time I try to play it I become both anxious and aggressive at the same time. My ugly competitive spirit rears its head. I begin cursing like an old sea dog. And within 30 seconds of the first race I start sweating like Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News.”
“Get away from the tv!” I scream as my innocent children try to point out the arrows on the track that I can actually see but can’t seem to follow. “Here, mommy!” they shout in helpful unison. “Don’t talk to me! I see them.” I shriek like a cornered hyena.
Naturally I come in last nearly every time I play. I wouldn’t care about that except my kids seem so deeply disappointed in my failure. “Don’t worry, mommy. You’ll get better,” they try to sound encouraging. But I can see the sadness in their droopy eyes. Again I’ve let them down. Dejected, I turn the wheel back over to them and make my way to the laundry room to fold yet another load of laundry. Ah yes, this is where I belong; here’s something I’m good at.
“So why play it?” I’m sure you’re asking. Because I don’t want to lose my children. Now I realize this may sound ridiculous to some of you. But where does it stop? If I don’t share their interest in Mario Kart, what’s next? I don’t care about the NCAA championship. Okay, no harm there. I’m not really interested in Harry Potter. That’s fair. But do you see where this is leading? Suddenly, I can’t stand their music, don’t like their friends, don’t know anything about what interests them. They become goth, start smoking cigarettes to be cool, go off to college, get a slew of body piercings, bad grades, and stds and I have only myself to blame.
No. I’m not willing to lose them. I will learn how to play Mario Kart. I will not give up because it’s an inane game that makes me dizzy, depressed and nervous. I will practice while they’re at school until I earn a damn medal. I will make them proud of their mommy. I will learn how to throw mushrooms and banana peels and make everyone else small. I will not give in to my inner adult.
I’m actually serious about this. I truly believe that we, as parents, have to stay in tune with the things that matter to our kids. I see so many families that just drift apart because parents are too busy doing their own thing to pay attention to the hobbies and interests of their children. It’s not dissimilar to any relationship you want to keep vibrant and strong. I try to pay attention to the things my husband cares about. I read the business news, listen to political talk shows, watch which wines are earning a perfect Parker 100. Why wouldn’t I do the same for my boys?
Sure it’s one more thing on my “to do” list. But the way I look at it, who can’t take a little time out of their day to spend a few minutes palling around with Donkey Kong, Koopa Troopa, and Wario? Besides, if I get really good at it, I’m hoping to learn how to splat ink over all those obnoxious 101 drivers who cut me off when I’m trying to merge onto the 51 on our way to school in the morning.