With times being what they are, however, my husband and I were finding that we weren’t seeing all that much of the kids. Which is actually kind of funny, because most days, the three younger ones are here at the house—my stepdaughter downstairs in her room on her computer, my daughter upstairs on her computer, and my son outside riding bikes with his friends and popping in to raid the refrigerator every half-hour or so. I would love to say that I have the time to take my daughters somewhere every afternoon so that they’re not holed up staring at their monitors, but the sad truth is that I’m really busy. I leave my very active job and pick up my kids from school…and that’s when the second half of my day begins. By the time I finish picking up my kids (one at 2:30, one at 3:10, the other at 4:00 because he has track), running errands (supermarket, post office, bank, etc.), taking them to work, doctor and dentist appointments, supply shopping—you name it—I don’t usually get to start dinner until after 5:00. That’s when the third half (okay, the third third) of my day starts…eating, cleaning up from dinner, perhaps squeezing in a walk, a yoga class or the gym, showering…I don’t have time left over to do much of anything other than collapse into bed.
About two months ago, my husband and I decided that we really needed one night a week where all six of us sat down at a table together and ate dinner, instead of the two, three, or—if we were lucky—four people that usually showed up. We picked a pizzeria in a town close by, and now on Thursdays we all gather and catch up with one another. Since we realized how much we enjoy each other’s company, this has turned into quite the event, especially for the pizzeria owners. They told us that they look forward to our visits (and our antics) every single week! Around Christmas time, we decided to take a family portrait which consisted of the red checker table cloth for a background, and each member’s head atop a different condiment—garlic powder, salt, pepper, cheese, etc.—the owners admired the fun we were having so much that they requested a copy for themselves!
Yes, Thursdays are fun, but there’s still the empty hole that’s left between Friday and Wednesday. Enter “Guitar Hero”. If you’re not familiar with this video game for Playstation 2, let me introduce you. “Guitar Hero” is a game that consists of a mini-guitar (we have two), a disc, and a TV screen. Along the lines of “Dance Dance Revolution”, one has to press the chords (five different colored frets at the neck of the handheld guitar) to famous rock songs as the corresponding color comes down a little “runway” (or guitar neck) on the screen. Here is the history of the game in our family:
Last Christmas, my daughter requested this game from “Santa”. She received it, only to realize afterward that we no longer had “Playstation 2” because it had broken (it helps to note here that my children’s dad gives them his “hand-me-down” game systems…hence the reason that I wasn’t even aware that we didn’t have “Playstation 2” anymore, because they basically had every other game system, so no one ever informed me). A year went by, and “Guitar Hero” sat in my daughter’s very messy closet, totally untouched…perhaps waiting for the day that we relented and spent the $110.00 to buy a used “Playstation 2” so it could finally be used.
On Christmas Eve of 2006, we went to my cousin’s house for the festivities. During the course of the night, my son went into the basement to play video games, and came across “Guitar Hero”. That was it. One game, and he was hooked! After Christmas, he took all of his gift cards and gift money, and went to the game store to buy a used “Playstation 2” so that he could use his sister’s “Guitar Hero” that’s been gathering dust in her closet for the last 12 months. That was December 26th, and he hasn’t put the game down yet (except for his daily visits to school…and he’s actually playing “Freebird” as I write this)!
Before we knew it, “Guitar Hero” had become somewhat of a phenomenon amongst the four kids. Where there used to be the silent clicking of computer keys, there was now the blaring electric strains of Guns N Roses, Boston, and various other artists followed by the screams, moans and belly laughter belonging to none other than—you guessed it—our kids! Most of them skipped over the “easy” and “medium” level, and made it to the “hard” level within a week. My son and daughter took it one step further and didn’t quit until they made “expert”—quite a feat for only having the game for a week! Oh, and did I mention that my husband and I have gotten in on the action as well? Not only do we play with our kids, but just the other night we battled guitars to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender”. Nothing like a little healthy competition between a couple to spice things up…especially when I win!
Okay, I know. I’m exuberant over a video game. Yes, I realize that it may seem like I've finally fallen off the deep end...after all, I am in my 40's. I'm supposed to hate video games and blame the demise of our country on them and MTV. And although there may be some valid reasoning to that, all I can defend myself with is that there is no sound sweeter in this world to me than the hysterical laughter of my four kids, especially when it’s in perfect harmony in my living room. A heroic feat by any means!