Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty
Call me a cruel and inconsiderate parent if you like, but I don’t let my kids play with my Nintendo Wii when they stay with me. At first, I hid the system from them, draping it in place mats and hiding the controllers in the secret drawer of my coffee table. But my children are no dummies. My 10-year-old son discovered it quickly.
"Dad, this looks like a Wii,"
"Uh, yeah. That’s what it is. What do you know?"
"Does it work?"
I’ll spare you the string of fibs that proceeded from my mouth at that point. In time, I confessed the truth.
"To some families Wii is a game system; but that’s not why we have it. I use it only for fitness and exercise, just like the rower I don’t let you play with."
My son wistfully eyed the heavy, teasing rower in the corner of our apartment, a playground-worthy piece of equipment if there ever was one.
I continued on another track. "You wouldn’t even like what I do with it -- all exercise stuff. No Mario, no driving, no shooting, no high scores, no swimming, no gold coins, no Star Wars, no bloopedeebloop."
In truth, the Wii Fit has an awesome downhill slalom game, EA Active has some stunning training tactics, and I’m addicted to playing the net in Wii Sports tennis ... but I’m not about to tell him that.
I’ve seen my son play Wii baseball and Wii tennis on the van-sized television at my brother’s house. Like me, he’s not blessed with genes for athleticism or general physical coordination for that matter. But he learned that if he throws a spasmodic fit with the controller when the tennis ball or baseball approaches, something good will happen. Meanwhile, my brother’s controllers seem unusually sluggish.
I don’t expect Agassi-like precision from my son, but I do want the Wii to be used as nin-tended. I don’t want him haphazardly whipping that controller around any more than I’d want him indiscriminately hitting keys on the remote control, or thumbing randomly on my iPod. That’s why they make Legos so hard and simple.
Ultimately, my parenting point boiled down to these four words: "It’s not for you."
I think they’ll understand. They don’t have Veruca Salt-like entitlement issues, and they’ll have plenty of Hanukkah-inspired distractions soon enough.
But I’m considerate enough to attend to my fitness in other ways while my kids are around. None of them have ever shown interest in hitting the push-up bars with me.