Monday, January 10, 2011

Giving In to Get By

(via The Instrumentalist)

Jack has been obsessed with Mario Kart on the Wii for a good portion of his life. His interest wavers when he discovers a new game to play with his toys or when the sun is shining enough for a trip to the park, but "Kart....Wii" is always simmering in the back of his mind. When Lucy arrived on the scene, he was embroiled in a Mario Kart love affair that caused him to ask for it when he first woke up and to put off every offer for food or drink in order to continue playing. After making sure that he had been read to for a good chunk of time and was enriched with some fun songs or imagination games, I was inclined to let him play (which includes an adult, typically me, since two-year olds aren't great at maneuvering video game vehicles).

That last sentence is in the past tense, because the more I think about it, the more I'm worried that I'm raising the next star of Second Skin. Is Mario Kart a gateway drug to all-night online gaming or becoming the nerdy, trench coat-wearing kid? I know that I'm hearing the soundtracks and seeing the racetracks when I close my eyes; does that mean Jack's undeveloped brain is, too? These worries and ones similar to them are plaguing my thoughts when Jack asks to "driiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive Kart." But here's the kicker: I keep letting him play.

When I hold Lucy, I can play Wii with relative ease. Holding a Wii nunchuck is physically much easier to do than racing small Hot Wheels cars, which is Jack's other focus. And even more than these reasons, I let Jack play the Wii because with my sleeping schedule out of whack, I know the unchallenging task of guiding King Boo around Rainbow Road will be suitable to my exhaustion level.

Therein lies the full circle of guilty parenting: I am okay with my playing Mario Kart and letting my brain be mush, but I know I'm allowing Jack's brain to get a little soft, too. I feel that I have been careful letting Jack watch things on TV that I find suitable (PBS Kids, Mickey Mouse and Disneyland propaganda, etc.), though I know he ingests far more than most kids his age. I also know that he has benefited from those shows, especially in his verbal skills. But where is the benefit of playing Mario Kart?

I do not know how much longer I'll justify Jack's Mario hobby with my newborn baby. Until I figure it out, I will go overboard on feeding him fruits and vegetables and trying to teach him French. You know, to even things out.

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