The Importance of Play

My North Carolina grandchildren popped in for a few days in September. Before they arrived we had had an abundance of rain and the pool water was spilling over the edge. They fixed that for us in a matter of moments without us having to do a thing. I love to watch them and my local grandkids (their cousins) playing together. No one is safe from getting wet when they’re around.

Getting rained on is a nice break from the pool.

One of their favorite pool games is categories. One person is “it” and everyone else waits on the opposite side of the pool for a category to be called. Each person secretly chooses something from that category and when that name is called, they try to swim to touch the opposite side without being detected and tagged. Categories range from colors to Disney princesses to Marvel Superheroes.

As we watched, my daughter Dena commented that there should be an adult form of the game. Perhaps the person who is it would yell out, types of wine or places you’d like to travel or part of your body that is currently hurting. I’d love to have my neighbors hear the words, merlot or cabernet sauvignon being shouted from my backyard. It might be even more fun to have them hear sciatica or lower back.

We are a big game playing family, but you don’t have to like games to enjoy some play time. Doing a jigsaw puzzle might be more your cup of tea. Or maybe a tea tasting is your cup of tea. Perhaps you’d enjoy viewing sports together if you’d rather watch something than physically play. You could try Bob’s and my favorite game. That’s the one where I change something insignificant in the house and see if he can figure out what I did. You can imagine how much he loves that!

Board games and puzzles have had quite the resurgence during COVID. They provide great times of interaction and don’t involve a screen. Of course, video games can be fun, too. Bob and I have enjoyed video games for as long as I can remember. I was first introduced to PacMan back around 1981. Our good friend and pastor innocently introduced us to it and our lives have never been the same. (Thankfully, this is not the only influence he has had and still has on us. Thanks, Danny!)

Prior to that, there was Pong or Space Invaders. Child’s play! PacMan had a catchy tune and I immediately was hooked. One day soon after Danny introduced this to us, I ventured to the mall with our two kids – a toddler and a six-month oldish baby. There was a game room there. How had I never noticed that! I blew through a bunch of quarters with a baby on my hip and a toddler mesmerized by the sights and sounds. It was amazing.

Soon we discovered that we could have a gaming console in our very own home. Then, if I wanted, I could practice while the kids were taking a nap! I could beat Bob! Well, I wasn’t that obsessed. Close though. When Nintendo introduced Tetris, we were hooked. Then came Dr. Mario, which was a lot like Tetris only with cute Mario characters. When we would put our children to bed at night, Bob and I would play. I think even now when they hear the music they drift off to sleep. 

We took a decade or so off when our Nintendo died. We would blow on the cartridge or smack the top of the console, but alas, game over. Then one day our son said he was taking his Wii to the game store to trade for an xBox. He told us Wii had Dr. Mario. Our hearts leapt for joy and we traded him right then and there for car insurance money. Score.

Fast forward to now – 2020. Bob and I have that same Wii and we regularly play Dr. Mario. I tell myself it is good for my hand-eye coordination. Don’t spoil that for me!

 

I Really Don’t Know What I’m Doing (and it doesn’t bother me too much either)

I’ve just had it confirmed that technology has left me behind. As a side note, I’m not surprised. Here are a few examples.

We have a Wii. We have this primarily because my husband and I love to play Tetris and Doctor Mario. Of course, like any self-respecting adults, we say we have it for the grandchildren. No one believes us. It’s probably because we are so darn good at those games. Bob and I frequently play World Championships of the Day to see who will be the reigning Master of Doctor Mario. I couldn’t tell you who has the title right now, not because I’m modest if I won or upset because I lost. It’s because I never remember. I should write it down. When we were younger we did keep a running tally, but now we have gone beyond those childish ways. Look how we’ve matured!

I didn't even attempt to set up this controller

It’s nice to have an uncle around to set things up.

Last weekend our grandsons who are six and seven were staying with us. I had the extreme challenge of setting up a different game for them – not only a different game but one that used a different controller. This proved too much for me. When one of my sons came home he helped me with my dilemma and delicately mentioned that the Wii is outdated technology. Ouch. The truth hurts. Another of my sons said he only has to tell his x-box to turn on and it does. That’s the kind of immediate obedience I always wanted from my kids!

Then there’s the whole TV thing. Everyone has a different cable provider or uses a satellite dish or hooks things through a gaming system. There are like nine controllers sitting around any given living room and they all mock me. I remember having to walk across the room to turn on the TV. Yes, all the way across a room! The only thing that remotely resembled a TV control for me was my little sister.

So now, I have a daughter who has no cable or dish system. She has a computer hooked up to her TV and a two-year-old daughter who hides the mouse. There is no sense in even trying to watch TV there.

As I mentioned, one of my sons has an x-box that is voice commanded. I don’t think it recognizes my voice and I am a little afraid I’ll mess the whole thing up. After the TV is on, will it tell me what to do? Actually, that would be helpful.

Another son has a dish system. He has step-by-step written instructions for me so that I can watch TV. It’s still challenging. When I was trying to turn it on for my grandsons, one of them asked me, “Do you even know how to turn the TV on?”

Well, I did it. I proved him wrong. It took me ten minutes, but I got that TV on and left it on for the remainder of my stay there. Why tempt fate?