That’s So Old School

Recently my older son had a sleep over.  As his buddies were munching on pancakes the next morning they were “talkin trash” and comparing notes on a variety of topics–homework (boring), Brian Urlacher (totally cool), and girls (hot).  They were so funny (except for the “hot” comments – which strode somewhere between hilarious and nervewracking) – spouting opinions about this and that.  I just listened and kept making pancakes while they chattered away.

At one point a lull in the converstaion came.  To break the silence my older son said “Remember when we used to play Guitar Hero?”  This is the Wii game that has been all the rage for the last year, in case you haven’t heard of it (i.e. live under a rock).  It involves “playing” a guitar along with a band on screen – if you get the hand movements right along with the chosen song you get cheered on by the crowd, your band fees go up, and you get to go on tours.  If you don’t do so well parts of the song fade out, you get boo-ed, and you don’t make money with your band.  There are multiple versions of it now available.

I resisted the urge to break in with “You mean like 3 days ago?” while I poured batter on to the hot griddle.  I kept quiet to see what would be said next.  I wasn’t disappointed.

“Yeah” answered one of his guests.

“Yeah,” my son said, “that’s so old school!”  He shoved another big forkload of syrupy pancake into his mouth while his buddies nodded their agreement.

I couldn’t resist any more.  I put down my spatula and leaned against the counter.  “Son, what do you mean by ‘old school’?”

He looked up at me with his sweet freckled face and said “You know, Mom… been there ,done that…”

“Oh.  I see.”  I turned around and tried to stifle my laughter.  Where do they come up with this stuff?  This feined ennui and sophisticated boredom – at ten?  Heaven help us!

Wii Play

I never thought we’d get a gaming system (lesson #1226 – never say never!) but we found ourselves last year asking each other if it might be a good time to get one.  We shopped for a game system, weighed the pros and cons, looked at prices and games.  We got more excited as we shopped.  I still felt guilty about the cost and the idea that we were in some way encouraging mindless zombie activities.  We tried to justify it all by considering how everyone in the family might enjoy it.  We finally settled on a Wii …and we love it!

You see, my Typical son and husband are very “into” sports. My Autism son is not (frankly, neither am I).  We thought that, perhaps, his lack of coordination just kept him from enjoying sports.  We thought that a Wii, with the more physical interaction, could add to our Autism son’s sensory diet and motor skill development, as well as give him a way to play sports that didn’t require great control of a ball, actual running, etc.  We rationalized that we’d save on remodeling costs since our Typical son could play this and not tear the house apart when kept in on rainy days.  I rationalized that I might could use it to spice up my exercise routine (that is, if I actually had one).

We took the plunge and bought the Wii.  We brought it home and placed the shiny box on the coffee table.  My Typical son rushed to rip off the plastic wrap, while my younger son danced about, soaking up the excitement.  I read the directions and we hooked up all of the cables and cords.  The anticipation of that first game was thrilling.  We took the controls in hand and played what ended up being a really pathetic game of doubles tennis – but we laughed and yelled and got our heart rates up.  We all enjoyed it very much, all except for my Autism son, who tried swinging the “racket” once and then refused to play any more.  Since then we’ve played and added to our game library, but my Autism son hasn’t gotten into the sports games at all – not tennis, not golf, not even bowling (which he sometimes enjoys in real life).  We felt a bit dismayed.  I felt guilty (gasp!  Just the thing I warn others about and here I was succumbing to it once again!) for purchasing something that left one of us out.

Then, surprise surprise, my Typical son brought home a quirky game called Cooking Mama Cookoff!  My Autism son, a bit wary at first, soon was drawn to this strange and silly game where he pretends to chop, peel, stir, crack eggs, and create gourmet dishes. He never wants to help me cook in the kitchen (of course not!), but he loves this game, and we get such a kick out of playing it with him. I figure, not only does it entertain, but he practices controlling repetitive “small” motions, just like you would when chopping or slicing vegetables (that rationalization again :)).

Now I look at this game system with a sense of satisfaction.  We have found another way to include everyone in the family.  We each have our preferred games but we can all play together.  Wii scored!  Wii play!

Now we have a new challenge – when grocery shopping my son refuses to leave until we buy ink for the “Squid in Ink Sauce”.  Sigh