Ode to the Wii

Boy Playing Videogame by imagerymajestic, freedigitalphotos.net

Boy Playing Videogame by imagerymajestic, freedigitalphotos.net

Thank you Nintendo. Wow–those are three words I never thought I’d say in a million years.

Until rather recently we were a family of Luddites when it came to gaming devices. No DS, no Playstations, no Game Boys, no Xbox 360’s at our house, as our son frequently reminded us. It got so bad that he would introduce himself to strangers by saying, “Hi, my name Koss. I don’t have any brothers and sisters, I don’t have any pets and I don’t have any electronic toys.”

Yes, for a long time our child was pitifully deprived of all that stuff.

When he dared to complain of boredom, we’d mock him mercilessly, then tell him to go read a book, play basketball, ride a bike, bounce on a pogo stick. Video games were a no-no at our house. We just didn’t go there.

I’ve got to admit, I felt a little teensy bit of parental superiority about it. Maybe not quite the same level of superiority that people who never give their kids fast food feel, and definitely not reaching the level of parental purity that those people with “Kill Your TV” bumper stickers feel, but still, I was kind of proud that we hadn’t given in on this particular issue.

My husband, a longtime fan of computer games, was also happy not to have a gaming machine in the house. Although, his thinking went more along the lines of, “Don’t give me a gun, I don’t want to have to kill again.”

Then came the summer of his tenth birthday when the boy had saved up enough money to buy a Wii.


He had prepared a 23-slide Power Point presentation on why he should be able to purchase the toy. (Yes, we let him use the computer. I said we were Gaming Device Luddites, not Amish!) He argued that it had lots of non-violent game options, that playing the Wii involved getting off the couch and actively moving, that he would strictly follow whatever time restrictions we gave him for the game, and that he had his own money saved up and this was what he “pretty please with sugar on top” wanted to buy with it.

So we caved. And it was a lot cheaper than getting him a baby sister or an iguana.

Koss was completely addicted to the Wii for about five minutes. Then he got into a new series of fantasy books and forgot all about it for couple of months.

Then one day, it rained. And rather than jump on the furniture or play “vaseball” with the last of my wedding crystal, we brought out the Wii. Whee! Now we have a Wii, the perfect toy for a rainy day.

And whee, let me tell you, every single time it rains I do a little happy dance for the Wii.

Since it’s mostly sunny, Santa Barbara just isn’t very well equipped for rainy days. When you coop 75 pounds of pre-teen energy into a very small house for too long eventually something’s got to give–usually it’s my sanity. Let’s face it; no matter how hard you work to civilize them, boys are wired for action. Thank goodness, now they’re also wired for Wii. While it rains outside, kids can still work up a sweat without catching pneumonia.

And I know this isn’t the case with every kid, but thankfully, as much as we have come to love the Wii, Koss would still rather play outside when he can. Whee, I love that Wii.

Share your thoughts on video gaming with Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.com. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on January 7, 2011.