The phone rang at 8:30 today. My wife looked at me like - "You are going lose your free day today" - as she was talking to my cousin's wife. The girls were all going to see Wicked today and I was going to be alone to do some chores, watch some golf, and generally have a relaxing day. The call was telling us that my uncle, who was going to watch my cousin's 5 year old boy, had the stomach flu and wouldn't be able to watch him. What is next - I was going to be the fill-in. I love him. He is a hilarious, fun little boy, but my babysitting skills were a bit out of date as my own kids are now 10 and 19...
What I found out was that he was bringing some Wii games, his cars, and some other toys. I was hoping the weather would break and I'd be able to take him to the zoo. The Columbus Zoo is awesome and I haven't seen the polar bears, yet. Options.... That's all I need.
When he got here, he showed me his Wii games. I always enjoy some time with the Wii and he would give me a good excuse to play for a while. Needless to say, I would be able to play and have some fun. Does a 5 year old have the stamina to play for many hours? Sure, he sure did. We had a Wii marathon. I am not the greatest player of video games, but I have to admit, he crushed me over and over and over. We played three different games - Harry Potter Legos, Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario Brothers. I could not believe how much he could navigate the menus.
He could quickly navigate through the setup, then explain what was going to happen in the game. He could teach me some basics of the game and then show me different things to do, which buttons to use, and what characters to use. I asked him how he knew and he said that he played with his dad and that they figured stuff out. He knew character names, button commands, which games needed nunchucks, and how the game would progress. He even got frustrated with me if I didn't catch on fast enough. I could really not believe how comfortable he was with the machine.
Spending the day with Jake makes me think about how much young kids could really use technology. How do we get different gadgets in the hands of the kids. They would be able to figure out how to do different things all the time. They could play and figure out what would happen, then share with us. I definitely swallowed my competitive pride, as I like to win, but Jake really opened my eyes as to what young children can really do and be comfortable with. What can we do to get children comfortable with other forms of technology? How can we get them to be as productive with other forms of technology as they are with gaming systems. They have the ability. We just have to give them opportunities to "play" with the tools.