We recently bought our first “big time” computer game for the boys. Actually, they bought it with our permission. Boy #1 saved his money and bought himself a GameBoy not too long ago, and before that we had a few “Plug & Play” games that hook up directly to your TV. But this is a full-blown, mainstream video game for our PC, purchased collectively by Boys #1, #2, and #3 by pooling their money together. I’m not identifying the game here, but I will say that it involves a lot of computer-animated Lego characters romping around to one of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time. 🙂
So, for the last three evenings it has been the dominating activity in our home after dinner. As the game is a collectively owned entity, the boys have been required to take turns, with each turn lasting approximately 15-30 minutes. This arrangement is frustrating for them at times, but I am trying to let them come up with their own scheme to replace it once they feel it has outlived its usefulness. (Once they are in bed and asleep, however, Daddy gets to take as long as he wants!)
It is going pretty well for Boys #1, #2, and #3 (ages 10, 8, and 6 years, respectively), though the lower the age the more frustrated the child has been getting at the level of logic and problem solving acumen needed. Thankfully, they are working together (sort of) and wading their way through it. Ironically, the one boy for whom the level of difficulty has not been a problem is Boy #4 (4 years old) — mainly because he is too clueless to care how poorly he is doing and is having fun regardless. (While stuck watching him, the other three boys seem to experience enough frustration to cover his lack.)
It hit me today that the game has really caused a degradation in our family values over the last few days. I mean, we’ve barely watched any TV at all! Apparently our priorities are in need of some work. (Yes, that’s supposed to be funny.)
Actually, all of this is my bumbling way of trying to set up the following observation:
Having finished their schoolwork and chores a bit earlier today, the boys were allowed to begin a game before dinner. When our sumptuous meal was read for the eating, I announced to the gang that gameplay would have to be suspended so that they could eat dinner, at which moment all four boys said, “Awwwww!” (as expected) and dutifully, if not happily, headed into the kitchen. Boy #3, however, seemed to have an idea and came up to me looking very thoughtful.
It was at that moment that I realized this video game was capable of increasing my children’s interest in getting close to God.
Boy #3: Dad?
Dad: Yes? Aren’t you going to have dinner with us?
Boy #3: Actually… (Insert thoughtful pause here.) I think I want to fast tonight.
Boy #3: Yeah.
Dad: Well, OK. But you know that fasting means some extra prayer and focusing on God, so you won’t get to play your video game, right?
Boy #3: Oh… (Insert second thoughtful pause here.) Never mind then.
What spiritual maturity, huh? So, I can note on the calendar the first request from one of the boys for a voluntary fast. I won’t note the suspected motivation, though. 🙂