in praise of video games

If you know me, the title of this blog post might surprise you. When my kids were little, we were the house without video games. I wanted my kids playing dodge ball in the back yard, reading books, plunking out new songs on the piano and creating new inventions out of the wood pile and my broken mixer.

With reluctance, I accepted a Playstation as a gift (but no games rated M!) and you may have even seen me purchasing a Wii when they were all the rage.

For years, the boys had something of a secret code– finding times to meet together for video games. They’d use up all the batteries on the Wii over Christmas vacation and then forget we even owned it until the next year.

Still, it wasn’t until this past year– that bone crunching, heart breaking, tear-soaked year– that I truly became grateful for video games.

When Xander was recovering from surgery, he started meeting Stefan (who was studying for the bar) for an hour of distraction. They would play online while talking over the phone. Stefan didn’t have time to drive over and visit every day, but they could find time to meet online.

Hans soon joined them and finally Ben. They pulled out an old game from 1997 called Age of Empires (you can play it on a laptop, no game system required) and it’s become the latest brother obsession. Hans will come home early from a date and rush upstairs to play with his brothers. They talk about it over family dinners, look up cheats online and plan times to meet together.

They are all busy– too busy– but they are finding pockets of time to play together. Even with broken legs and broken hearts and 12 hour work days. Everything could change next year, and they’ll start meeting for back country skiing or afternoons at the gym. But for now, this is working.

On Stefan’s birthday, they celebrated by playing Age of Empires for hours at the kitchen counter. Sammie, Heather and I were happy to play with the babies while the boys ate Cafe Rio, built online empires, and laughed until late into the night (8:30 pm Fritzie’s bedtime).

We were coaxing smiles out of baby Wells, when Heather said, “I had no idea how to celebrate Stefan’s birthday, but this was exactly what he wanted to do. Thanks for raising his best friends.”

And there’s the heart of it all. I’m writing in praise of whatever brings my children together. I worry about all my children, yet I’m seeing it’s not all up to me. They have each other. They help each other in ways I cannot, they have conversations I can’t and shouldn’t listen in on. It’s a humbling- and liberating- truth that I am not always the best person to talk to. I love witnessing the hundreds of little ways they help each other: from painting bedrooms, to offering job advice, to Hans and Xander wrestling Fritzie out of a dirty diaper.

My children are good to each other; nothing could make me happier.

p.s. and don’t worry about Mary. The boys are good to her too. And Sammie, Heather and Madi are the sweetest sisters she could ever wish for.


1 Comment

  1. Anne Marie

    April 14, 2022

    I had read this last month and then never got back to commenting. Thank you for this! I loved this so much. I am absolutely with you on this. My husband totally lights up when he gets to play an online game with our son living far away, and we have had some great times as a family doing FaceTime and playing Dominion. And that paragraph you wrote towards the end. Yes! Your kids have each other! What a gift. I am seeing the ways my boys are growing close to each other and counting on each other in ways that this mama could never replicate. Thank you for your words and your pictures! You keep on blessing me

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