Thursday, November 08, 2007

Just Can't Get Enough

Seven year old boys and electronics. Drawn together like fish to water, magnet to steel. I’ve been fairly unsuccessful this school year in limiting the Boy’s playtime to pursuits beyond anything that has a screen. There are the online games, in particular Runescape, the Gameboy Advance, the Playstation, and the pièce de resistance, sweet Nintendo DS. And of course there’s the television. The latest toys heading our way around Christmas apparently are the Nintendo Wii and a big screen TV. This is what the boys announced after a recent Boys’ Day out to Best Buy.

Aside from the TV, the fascination with electronics has got to be a Venus and Mars thing. Sure, there’s a certain thrill when you’re standing there playing “Message in a Bottle” on Guitar Hero in front of the adoring masses (four, including my brother, my husband, my son and little G) who are encouraging you with rip-roaring laughter applause. But nothing could get me to sit in front of a little handheld box or hold a controller -- not eating, not drinking unless someone nudged me and put refreshments within a hand’s reach -- until my eyeballs were ready to fall out or my hands were Carpal Tunnel’ed and twisted in preparation for the next electronic O.K. Corral.

Honestly, I think Ian bought the Playstation just as much for himself as for L. When I’m blogging after the kids are in bed, he’s spending quality time with his “Need for Speed” or whatever next generation shoot-em up game. The shooting game is reserved for after hours, for Dad, and Dad alone.

Well, we just brought home Brain Age and Brain Academy courtesy of my brother, for Nintendo DS. I figured at least we could expose the Boy to something pseudo intellectual, some brain exercises shall we say. But to be completely honest, it was really more for me.

Since being at home with the kids for a couple of years now, I feel like a part of my brain is atrophying. Not being faced with clinical data to digest, not having to deal with departmental budgets; not having to make decisions in tight timelines, or forecast milestones to meet marketing objectives; not having to negotiate with health authorities, conduct performance reviews ... blah, blah, blah … not having to do any of that in a while, has made my brain feel soft. Mush on some days.

The other night, I asked L to show me how to work his game. Boy did he get excited … something he could actually teach his Mom! He did so gladly, demonstrating “Brain Academy” first. I couldn’t believe how quickly he handled the stylus on the screen, how the jargon just flowed out of his mouth about which buttons to press and when. And then the game came on. I tell you, there isn’t much more humbling than having your 7 year- old shout out the answers as to which animal is heavier compared to the other, based on various pictures of animals on see-saws. He was answering them faster than I could even discern one coloured creature from the other. One … no wait, now two, no … there are three see-saws!!! Accccckk! So encouraging he was though, giving me a well-intended, “Good job, Mom!” before he packed it in for the night.

As soon as he got into bed, I grabbed the DS again to try “Brain Age”. On comes this computer-generated, obviously Japanese fellow, who will be my master, my tutor, my sensei, as I embark on this new journey of training my brain. His bobbing head is what gives me the instructions for each exercise.

First we get the brain age check. Apparently, the ideal age is 20. How realistic is that? I remember what I was like at 20 … but then, this is about mental gymnastics, so let’s stick to that.

The first test asks you to say the colour of the word you are about to see. The trick is that the colour of the word, may not match the actual word itself. You have to say the colour, not just read the word. Operative word here is “SAY”. Well, how difficult could that be? So I touch the stylus to the screen, wait for the countdown… and we’re OFF!

First few colours, not a problem, as I speak them (feeling somewhat ridiculous, even though it was just me and the TV in the room) fairly clearly into the … air? I don’t even know where I’m supposed to be talking into. Smooth sailing, until the word "YELLOW" came up, when it obviously didn’t compute my "BLUE" response. The words “Try Again” popped into the screen. And then again, every time I tried to answer, RED, BLACK...."Try Again”, “Try Again”. After about the fifth time it didn’t take, I’m yelling at the black device in my hand, “BLUE! BLUE!, dammit, f*%kin’ BLUE!!!!” (remember, kids are in bed? A bit of a hothead, type A freakazoid mom when they’re not around).

Well, after that there were a couple more math and sequencing tests and I guess my Asian math genes pulled me out of the water. Brain Age = 36.

Well, well, that just ain’t good enough, nope. Still younger than I actually am but nowhere near good enough. It was the distractions of the household, yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket.

So the next day after L left for school, and after I dropped off the girlie to preschool, I came home and picked up that little black box that beckoned me, taunted me … and after about another half hour of training, I tested myself again.

Verdict: Brain Age: 20.


That was my brain. Now if only I could get the black box to do something with the rest of me.

Don’t tell L-sterI told you this but, yeah, I get it now. The DS rocks.


Family Adventure said...

Hey, Christopher got Brain Age about a year ago, and I have three accounts on it. They all have brain age 20 on them. AND NOONE IS ALLOWED TO EVER PLAY THEM AGAIN. I can't risk anyone messing up my statistics!
HY knowing my obsession brought Big Brain Academy to Norway, and I am finding it quite a lot harder. But better, because it is a little bit more arrogant. I seem to thrive on arrogance. When someone gives me a C+, I don't appreciate it, and will not give up until I have my A. Darn it! Move over kids!


gmcountrymama said...

I have avoided getting any playstation or Wii so far because I know I would love to play games. Probably getting one this Christmas since both kids are asking. I don't want to know my Brain Age and I especially don't want to know my 'body age'!

Bill said...

Jack got his first taste of the DS at my parent's Anniversary party whenhe got to borrow it from a friend's child. He's dying to get one of his own!. He was picking up pretty quick for a kid who doesn't play video games. Now we wants to get into world of warcraft? What? Video Games and me just don't mix. I swear I too and experiencing brain atrophy. I suspect Jack will be smarter than me by the time he's in third grade.

Beck said...

I want to get a Wii for Christmas. For me. The children are forbidden to touch it.

bec said...

Karen--you have my support in your new endeavor into the DS world. Congratulations! This coming from a mom who bought a Gameboy for herself for her birthday and a PINK carrying case for it so that if my then 5 year old wanted to play it, he would KNOW it was mine and he would have to be seen with all the pinkness...

That being said, I have seen very little of the device. Even the pink did little to disuade him from playing it anywhere, in front of anyone. LOL

Now I have a DS, which is also MINE, with my favourite game which I have yet to play.

The Wii is great...what little time I've had to play on it too. I finally got up to a B- on Brain Academy.

We have all these devices, but I don't have the time to play them!

Badness Jones said...

Sigh. I suppose this is my future? My kids are to young to know what any of that stuff is, but now that the Princess has started school I suppose it is only a matter of time.

J at said...

I totally gave myself carpal tunnel (not literally, but definately PAIN) when we first got our XBox, with the Buffy game. It was sad. I severely limit my playing time, now. :)

Christy said...

Welcome to the dark side! My hubby and I are both big video game fans, our daughter is too young still. It is bad becuase we will fight over who gets to play sometimes.

We are hoping to get a Wii by Chrismas this year, and I can only imagine then what will happen :)

Karen MEG said...

Heidi- you're ACES! I should have figured you had done this, with your boys so far ahead with these things... I should have e:mailed you to get the cheating codes :)
GM mama- we were very weak in this household, couldn't resist the dark side once our boy started school.
Bill- yeah, that warcraft stuff scares me too. Big rule was no toy weapons in the house, but for some reason we ended up with over a dozen light sabers ... toys based on fake weaponry aren't really toy weapons are they? confusion.
beck-I'm actually not too opposed to the Wii. As long as I don't dislocate any major joints.

Karen MEG said...

bec- you are setting a bad example my friend - you're too cool to be a mom, seriously. And I don't even want to talk about YOUR mom!
badness- I'm afraid it may be inevitable. We tried the Leapster etc...first... didn't cut it after a few months.
j- that's what I fear is the physical damage that will occur to me, myself and I.
Christy-fromt what I know, the Wii at least gets you moving; just try not to hit each other during boxing LOL!

Secret Agent Mama said...

I'd love to get the Wii but I'm afraid I'd play it too much!

Kids and technology, they go hand-in-hand in these times!! :D

bec said...

LOL oh yeah, you just reminded me about MY mom. I have a son who can say "My grandpa bought my Grandma her own DS" :P

Ginaagain said...

Karen, just wait until you get the wii and get to test your body age. EEK!

I'm afraid I'm a bit of a gaming nut. My kids got me hooked on an MMPORPG (mega multiplayer online role-playing game) because they figured they'd have more luck talking me into buying them game cards if I was playing the game. What they didn't expect is that within a month I would be twenty levels higher than they were. I have stopped playing for awhile because they won't play with me anymore.

familymclean said...

Ha, ha boys and their toys! MY hubby also has a DS for the bathroom, his sanctary, and is hooked on brain age, I am afraid of it, I don't want to know what it might say. Wii is good all around family fun.
You have a brain age of 20, go you, be proud!!!!
However I am a little wary of 20 being the 'smart', I for one think I have come a long way since then and still have a song ways to go.
You write a fantastic post!

Melinda Zook said...

That is too funny. This sounds just like what was on Scrubs last night with the secret addictions to video games. We don't have one yet because I know we will all get crazy about it. My hubby keeps begging for the Wii this christmas.

As far as the Brain game you played...I think I would be a little too afraid to find out my brain age. I am losing it way quicker than I imagined now that I a home with the kids.

mrsmogul said...

I know what you mean about mushy brain. But that's why I try to stay focused reading words on the Internet!

melissa said...

My guys and spouse all bond on video games. I decided that Pokemon Revolution is like crack. And now they have MySims. Be afraid.

Karen MEG said...

secret agent mama- the technology and the speed with which they pick it up; incredible. Thanks for commenting!
gina-you're kidding me, they can check body age on Wii. Maybe we don't want that in the house!
Anna-a DS in the bathroom! LOL!
Melinda-looks like everyone wants a Wii!
Hi MrsMogul - the internet, that's more my addiction too.
Melissa - yes, it's major bonding for the boys. Little G and I will soon have our day when the Wii comes home!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin