Wii time is usually monopolized by my seven year old. He is all about getting to a certain world on Mario, ascending a certain level on Batman, or beating his record score on Scooby Doo. We were excited to finally take advantage of the rainy weather to play a family Wii game, and we decided on bowling.
To be fair, we decided to forgo (btw I cannot use this word without thinking of ‘The Bachelor’) individual play for teams. My husband and I are about the same skill level, and we knew we could carry-or at least even out-the kids scores. We remind them about good sportsmanship, and tell them that it’s ok if they don’t get a great score every time, that there will be 10 frames, and that each one is like getting a do-over. We explain that not everyone can be a winner, but the important thing is to have fun. The kids each give us their token nods of acknowledgement, and we get ready to begin.
My 4 year old immediately starts crying once she realizes she is my partner, throwing herself to the ground, saying, “Oh NO! Not MOM! Now I’ll never win”! I eventually convince her that I am a bowling champion and she’s back on her feet, doing a pre-victory dance: “Oh yeah, Oh yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh-- we are gonna wi-i-i-i-n”.
My son isn’t buying it: “Mom stinks. Dad is the best”.
The game is on, and it’s my turn first. My son runs interference, chanting, “BOOOO, mom! Lose mom! Don’t get a strike mom, don’t get a strike, don’t get a strike...” I concentrate and go into strategy mode. I use all the virtual tools at my disposal. I zoom in to check position. I click the turn mode to optimal direction. I narrow my eyes and focus on the virtual arrows, aiming just between the center arrow and the arrow to the right of it- and I end up hitting a few pins right down the middle, leaving pins on both sides. I turn around to see my daughter crossing her arms and smirking at me.
I hand her the controller and encourage her to get the spare (even though it’s next to impossible). I cheer, “C’mon , you can do it”! She tells us all confidently, “Watch....and learn, my friends”.
She turns toward the game, starts a bizarre sideways approach with her hip jutted out to the side. With a crooked, drunken stance and an even more crooked elbow, she takes a few steps and whips the controller all crazy-like, with no apparent regard for a specific destination, managing to hit both the couch and the table before her release-- and ends up getting the split, and the spare. She gives me the ‘that’s how it’s done’ look and proudly reclaims her spot on the couch.
Now it’s my husband’s turn- my son screams, “Yeah dad! GO Dad”!!
My daughter joins in, “Go DAD!!! Get a STRIKE, DAD”!!
I remind my daughter that she is on my team, and she lowers her voice and explains with a concerned tone, “Mom.... I do love you, but I can’t just love you all the time. I love dad, too. Dad is fun. Sometimes you are boring. But some days you are fun. Some days I love you the best-but today-I just have to love dad better”.
My husband takes his turn, and, like me, tries to use the advantage of technology to optimize his chances. His ball ends up spinning sharply to the right and he hits 2 pins. My daughter quickly changes her tune. Clinching her fist and thrusting her elbow toward the floor, she yells, “YESSSS! Mom is THE BEST”! My son takes his turn and effortlessly gets the spare.
The rest of the game continues like this, with the kids having to clean up the pins after their parents’ pathetic first attempts. At one point my son says, “Dad, you are terrible. Just give me the remote and I’ll get us the strikes”. My daughter gets bored and eventually takes her turn by half-heartedly giving the remote a little push while simultaneously working on a princess drawing (and clears almost all of the pins).
My son eventually checks out of the game as well. He starts to build a tunnel using a gymnastics mat and pillows, and decides he can just take his turn from there. From across the room, he haphazardly sticks his hand holding the controller up out of the pillows, gives it a random flip, and ends up with a strike. “BOO-yah! In your FACE”, he yells, at no one in particular--from underneath the tunnel.
On my final turn, I decide to change up my game, putting the kids’ proven “technique” into practice. Without glancing at the screen, I quickly and randomly give the controller a quick flip--and end up with a gutter ball.
My son yells out from his newly built Lego town in the hallway, “MOM! Come ON! Are you even taking this seriously” ?!