Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thank You, Minecraft and Pokemon

The other day as I was cooking dinner I noticed something amazing.

Anna and Ethan weren't fighting, bickering, nit-picking, hitting, or generally getting on each others' nerves. On the contrary, they were sitting on the couch together working cooperatively on Ethan's Minecraft world. Then Ethan started begging for Anna to play with Pokémon cards with him when they were done.

This is big, people. It's not just that they're not constantly fighting (I know, I know, most siblings do). It's that they've found something to play together for the first time in, oh, at least three years. Even better -- it's something so typical that not only Anna but also Ethan have the potential to bond with not only each other, but with other kids over it.

It's been a long journey in our house to a) find any game that anyone can agree on playing together and b) finding something to occupy Ethan (or Anna, at this point!) that isn't a screen. Okay, so Minecraft is still another video game. But at least they have to put a little thought into it rather than just mindlessly blasting things out of their way. You could even say it encourages creativity.

We have skipped some of the usual "boy" phases in this house. Legos to Ethan are, eh. Superheroes? He likes movies and shows but rarely sits down with little guys and play sets. He doesn't collect Star Wars characters and didn't really care for Matchbox cars or Thomas the Train, back in the day. But now, years after the fad started, Ethan has started to really, really the blocky, strange world that is Minecraft. And even better, he has just started wanting to collect Pokémon decks of cards and learn how the game works.

Dan and I act like old people when it comes to Minecraft. We just don't get it. In an era where certain video games look as real as life itself, we don't understand how the kids would want to build a world that looks like a first-generation game from the eighties.

As for Pokémon? I tried to play the game with Ethan, which basically involves two creatures going up against each other in a "battle" and a complicated system of scoring who is more powerful and who can take more points from who. I didn't get the allure, but Anna loves Pokémon. They spent an hour the other night playing together. Happily! Did I mention I'm excited about this? Since Ethan started refusing to be Anna's preschool student a while ago, and Anna started abhorring just about all board games, they haven't been on the same page with play. Finally, common ground.

The other day we went to Target, and Ethan bought Pokémon cards with his allowance money, and Anna bought a Minecraft book. They spent dinner discussing the different "health points" various characters had, and new secrets for mining iron and taming wolves.

Dan and I were completely left out of the conversation. And we didn't mind at all.

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