I heard the soft thunder of little boy feet race down the stairs this morning.
I’d already been up for an hour, choosing to pretend to sleep while thoughts still raced through my head, and then finishing the last few pages of Pride and Prejudice before starting my day, my chihuahua snuggled against the back of my legs under the blankets.
I saw his hair, bed head to the max, peeking over the top of the iPad, so I looked over to see a Wii wheel and a remote in his hands.
He had raced back upstairs to ask for more games, just like last night when we had taken turns valiantly trying to earn enough points while coaching his questionable driving skills and supporting his gleeful “I won!” statements when the opposite was, in fact, true.
So I set him up for a round, maneuvering the options in Mario Kart with the wheel pointed at the screen, he wiggling in glee beside me.
We set up the games, he picks his character with a decided “That one,” while we quiz him to find out what character he is talking about. We talk him into courses, steer him toward options that will allow him a chance to play.
And then he makes the game his own- cheering anytime he crosses the finish line, usually a lap behind instantly, blissfully unaware the glaring ’12′ means he is in last place.
We won’t tell either.
I was raised gaming, playing Pong on my dad’s Atari before he brought home our beloved Mario and Duck Hunt games.
The same games where my brother stood right against the little tv screen in our room, ducks crashing down the minute it started to fly, the giggling dog taunting any missed.
I made it infrequently all the way to the end of Mario- and that was after family friends taught me the big two cheats to skip levels.
When Wonder Boy was big enough we taped down the button that served as the gas pedal and let him swerve and crash along.
As he gets older, it gets more complicated, as the rules of the games are a little harder and when he gets frustrated he hands the wheel over for us to fix the situation.
So, along with being a source of fun and entertainment, it is also a session in problem solving, listening to directions and patience.
For us too, as we, so used to winning, have to give up our own games to help his.
This morning, he happily played a session, laughing hysterically as he fell down the bottomless chasms that lined the tracks he picked, a little more patience as he tried to learn how to turn his car around the right way when the floating turtle flagged him away.
I’m raising a gamer.
He will be a gamer, like his father before him. And his mother. The second generation to be rained with games in the home, but so much more than we had.
Many more versions, options, complexity.
At three he already has the hand dexterity that I did at an older age, when I was struggling to make Mario jump high enough to get a high score on that stupid flag pole. Waiting my turn for a round while my brother took his turn struggling with a flat and pixellated world.
Even though he is a gamer like us, he is born into a realistic and complicated realm, while we’ve watched the technology grow in leaps and bounds.
And, unlike my generation, he will have parents playing with him, making video games a shared activity for the family.
As soon as we can get him facing the right way on the racetrack.