Happy Monday! How did you spend your weekend? Lesson planning? Spending time with family? Doom scrolling the news? Finding an alternative to Facebook to get your news? (Not actually a problem for me because literally only use Facebook to stalk boys I had crushes on in high school, and keep in touch with friends and family). Did you do something you like, or something that a family member likes?
I played MineCraft. Yep. I mean not all the time. I also went to the local produce market, had a (mozzie infested) stroll in the botanic gardens, picked up some second-hand books at a book fair, but I did also use my furnace to turn sand into glass, and killed a couple of wither skeletons. (Are they wither skeletons, or just skeletons? They shot me with arrows which I felt was pretty uncool).
Why, you may ask, are you playing MineCraft?
I’m not really a gamer, although I do really enjoy playing video games and my son and I recently went halves in a Nintendo Switch. Ostensibly I did that because I wanted a Switch, but truthfully I wanted to support and encourage him in his saving for an expensive item. He saved over $200, so I wanted to meet him half way. He’s only ten, and I think when you’re ten, saving $200 is a real achievement.
So, I’m not playing MineCraft because I have a huge desire to play the game. Rather, my children adore MineCraft and my husband, who also enjoys computer games but isn’t really a gamer, thought it would be fun to set a challenge for them, which he and I also participated in, of building something in creative around the theme of ‘Dream’. Then, my youngest son proposed a ‘survival’ challenge, and we’ve all gotten on board with that.
Now, I’m not telling you this because I’m the new spokeswoman for MineCraft – I don’t think you or I are their target demographic. Nor do I think this is the way to become the cool parent or teacher. No matter what we do, we will never be able to make ourselves cool in our children’s eyes. What’s more, I wasn’t cool in high-school, so it’s even less likely that I’ll be cool in middle age. I’m telling you this because there is something so rewarding for myself and my children in joining them in their interests.
Joining children in their interests gives you a shared understanding, a shared language, and a shared focus. And of course it doesn’t have to be computer games. It can be any sport or hobby, from horse riding to water polo, from ballet to mechanics. And you don’t have to pull on the ballet shoes yourself, but you could ask them to show you some moves, or watch a performance with them.
And it doesn’t have to be forever. Personally I’ve really enjoyed playing MineCraft, and my hubby has too, but I don’t know if I’ll continue once this challenge ends. Now though, when my child tells me that a creeper blew up his house, I know what that means, the effort he would have had to put in, and exactly what he lost in that encounter. And we can have a real conversation, instead of him talking and me saying, “Oh, that’s a shame.”
We often expect children to be passengers in our choices and interests. It doesn’t hurt to let them drive every once in a while.