Mining For Mom

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Mom, where are you?  You’re missing.  Are you in there?  This isn’t like you.  Where’s our mom?  The one who is always going a million miles a minute.  The one who ensures we are eating our fruits and veggies.  The one who checks our rooms and chore list to make sure we’ve completed them adequately.  Where’s the nag?  Where is she?  What have you done with her?  Where’s the mom who makes us play outside and get exercise?  The mom who always has a plan or a fun outing.  A demand for our time.  The mom who asks us to get dressed in the morning and gets dressed herself.  Where is she and what have you done to her?

Was she kidnapped?  Freaky Friday’d?  Brain Swapped?  Alien Invaded?

Nope.  This mom has been SummerTimed and Minecrafted.

IMG_1530Summer break started on Monday and the very first day of break I caved and purchased Minecraft.  Since that moment we’ve been sitting around in our underwear, eating easy foods, and frying our brains with the play of multiple electronic devices all at once.  For hours and hours at a time.  Killing off our brain cells.  One complex cell at a time…fried.

Do I have mom guilt?  No, not really.  Mom guilt is highly overrated anyhow.

This is not normal for our family.  We are usually so far upside down in activities (think three months of 3 different baseball teams) and appointments (OTs, PTs, Therapists, Neurospecialists, blah blah blah) that we barely find time to just be irresponsible.  To enjoy the not-so-good for us activities that can be so much fun and oddly bonding.

I felt a twinge of guilt on day two of mining, crafting, and creeper hunting but quickly put that guilt to rest by having the boys take a 30 minute break to write a story about Minecraft (see I’m using Minecraft to encourage their writing abilities).

Day three I upped my mom game a little more and made chore lists and reading/writing requirements to be met before each hour of screen time.  The boys were so anxious to get back to their games that I swear I traded in my filth-producing rascals for four speedy, cleaning superstars!  Not to mention that Minecraft has provided me with some super awesome consequence ammo.  Every one is on his best behavior because he wants to keep his screen time.

Minecraft Pirate Ship

Minecraft Pirate Ship (Photo credit: JimmyJett)

It’s Day four and it’s a little cold and rainy today.  I’m also without a car.  These are my excuses for the zombies I’m willingly creating and co-habitating with.

The fact that I’m now at the point where I’m making excuses lets me know that our mining and crafting days are about to cease.  Mom is about to return.  And in full mom force.  Time to fish my clothes out of the closet and retire the cozy PJs.  Time to ask the boys to bathe.  Time to pull out a summer itinerary filled with real-life activities and real-life human beings.  And time to put Minecraft back in it’s pre-addicted place.

Limited and Earned.

May the sun and fun-filled days of summer find all of you zombie and creeper parents out there.  Happy Living.

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7 responses »

  1. Here, with children who have many, many choices, Minecraft is an often-chosen passion for both children.

    It has yet to create any zombies or creepers – wait, that’s not true. My daughter, nine in a couple of weeks, has perfected her zombie act, and she is considering being a creeper, or an enderdragon,or a skeleton, for Halloween, and she’s been practicing.

    My son has been creating devices that teleport things and characters from one place to another, and TARDISes, and other machines…he is a lifelong technophile, and this virtual creation is a splendid outlet for him – and for his fascination with physics and chemistry.

    He’s nearing 12, and made an amazing castle and teleporter for his 7 year old best friend, who lives a state away.

    Because he wanted to know, he and I looked up the chemical formula of TNT. He’s lately been researching altitude and navigational coordinates as a result of game play.

    My daughter loves to play in creative mode. She farms, and makes amazing, labyrinthian structures. She’s created a whole series of virtual worlds.

    During the time they have been in love with Minecraft (somewhere around mid-March, I think , when they both added Kindle Pocket Edition to their Kindles), we’ve visited our state museum, an art museum, an annual event, Journey Through the Body (health, anatomy, and physiology), Hands-on Japan (an interactive introduction to various aspects of Japanese culture, a library, several stores, visited our out of state friends, gone for walks, gone fishing, visited a campground and several playgrounds, played with our dog, cats, and guinea pigs, sang, danced, laughed, helped around the house, played in the yard, swam, bounced, read books, and generally lived their lives…

    Lives made richer by Minecraft. Lives blended through with Minecraft. When we walked, they noticed the various building materials in neighbors’ yards, and also they white birch trees growing . They chose from a list of potential jobs for which they could earn money they often spent on Minecraft apps. My son has been researching the next version of the game to buy, and it was he who tipped me off to the parodies (and both kids have practiced several of the songs).

    On the way to the state museum, we stopped to admire a cathedral, which my daughter was enchanted by because it looked like redstone. Because of that, she was interested in learning about Gothic arches, flying buttresses, stained glass…

    Both write better than they did when they began playing. My daughter’s reading has attained a near-adult level as she reads and learns, and begins to do her own research.

    We don’t limit their play, or ask them to earn the time they spend. If I did, I think they would cling so tightly to the time they had to ignore this new passion that they would be unwilling to do anything else.

    I don’t see it as an either/or, and neither do my kids. They take their Kindles in the car – they can play while I drive, and chat with one another. They can see Minecraft in the world around them, and that world grows just that much richer.

    To me, what you describe sounds exactly like falling in love. When two people first become romantically linked, they often seem to forget about everything but one another. it’s no good to try to talk them out of it – not gonna happen. =)

    It seems to me that kids falling in love with a new game is a lot like that. At first, life is ALL about the game.

    But, just like that head-over-heels time eases into something a bit more seasoned, something that can fit into the rest of life, the Minecraft lust of my kids’ first days of play has grown and blended into the other parts of their life (I don’t say real life because their lives aren’t any less real when they are playing. They are alive every moment of their lives, after all).

    If i limited or made them earn their play time each hour, though, I think they might take a lot longer to reach that place of integrating the passion (I don’t see it as an addiction, any more than my own decades long loves for Paul Simon and Spock), into the fabric of living. They might be focused instead on obtaining that longed-for playtime, and they might be very unwilling to set it aside, and resentful if I made them.

    As my son just told me, “There’s no ‘can’t’ in Minecraft.” To him, it’s power and possibility and imagination and learning, and most of all, joy.

    My house isn’t sparklingly clean, but my children are happily engages in a wide variety of adventures, of many kinds, and the virtual ones are an integral part of the mix, for them.

    Sorry this is so long – and hoping that it provides a little food for your free thoughts! =D

    Happy Mining and Living to you all – and thanks for the linkback!

    • Thank you for the food for thought. I’m always appreciative to see the other side of things and to challenge myself to think outside of whatever box I’ve chosen.

      We too are a family of many choices (most of the time). Why should I dictate what my children do and when they do it if what they are doing is a perfectly acceptable activity.

      The Minecraft Pros as I see it are that they play together, the boys are being creative, the one boy who always has nightmares at night so doesn’t want to fall asleep has been falling asleep within minutes because his mind is focused on his virtual world that he’s been building, they no longer have to ask for this game that they’re dying to have, they’re motivated to earn screen time, and for the most part they are chilled out and relaxed.

      The cons:
      They fight over which device they get to play on and for how long (which by the way I did not know there was a kindle app…thanks for that tid bit), their neighborhood friends have knocked on the door for outside play time and my boys have quickly dismissed them, they don’t want to be away from home for very long so start crying when we have an outing, it’s still a video game and video games limit their social skills, outdoor time, and much needed exploring.

      But I hear what you are saying too. When we don’t limit they often limit themselves. When we do limit their instinct is to push that limit. Limits often do present resentments.

      For now we are allowing them to play most of the time that they ask as long as it doesn’t present a problem (aka fighting, arguing, negative attitudes). Some of them do eventually crave a different stimulation such as friends and riding bikes. Others will play incessantly.

      I have a feeling we will need to have some guidelines for healthy play but for the time being I don’t see the harm.

      All that said, since we are so new to minecraft it appears we have a lot to learn. I still am unable to figure out how they can play with each other from different devices in the same home!

      Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate the conversation 🙂

  2. hi i just wanted to say that i tink how you handled my moms coment was nice i have seen lots of posts ware peeple wood get mad if some one gave a difrnet pont of vue sorry for the bad spelling (my mom has no idea im doing this)

    • Jeremiah,
      Thanks for the comment!
      Our different viewpoints is what challenges us to grow as people. Being kind and accepting that we can all be different and learn from each other is what makes life so beautiful.
      Now go tell your mom you did this 🙂

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