Watching TV has always been a fall-back for me. When you think you have no energy to do anything, the chores are done, you can sink back into the couch and watch TV for an hour before going to bed. But more and more I’m finding I just don’t want to do it. For one, with a little kid in the house, you can’t have a conversation with your spouse and TV further limits that. Don’t believe me? Here’s how it is in our house at 6:30 while we’re making dinner.
Me: Do you want me to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner?
Wife: Sure, just—
Toddler Harbat: BABBO BABBO, COME SEE THE RAPUNZEL HEAD!
Wife:—just see if we have some salad mix—
TH: CAN YOU HELP ME GET MY CARDS? BABBO? BABBO? BABBO?
Wife: —because she didn’t have any veggies with—
TH: [pouring out ten thousand My Little Pony accessories onto the floor] NO! I DON’T LIKE THAT!
Wife: —if you—
TH: BABBO! I NEEDA DRINKA WATER!
You get the idea. TH is so loud and makes such a constant stream of noise that we literally cannot carry on even a three-line conversation until she’s asleep in bed and the chores are done and then it’s nine o’clock and we’ve hardly been able to talk to each other all day. Which is why sitting down in front of the TV effectively quashes any interaction, discussion, even fun.
This brings us to games. In my recent push to lower our cable bill, reduce the amount of electronic devices in the house, and inject some fun into our lives, I bought a Playstation 3. You can stream movies and TV shows on it, watch DVDs and Blu-Rays, listen to CDs, stream music. In short it replaces several devices in our living room. But I also got it to play games. I’ve played computer games for many years but it’s always been a monastic experience—put on the headphones, squirrel myself away in a room, and sit motionless before the flickering lights. But now I can play games with my wife, and I’ve found this to be an incredible relationship tool. Don’t believe me? Instead of sitting silent on the couch we are moving the coffee table out of the way and playing disc golf with the Sony Move system, flicking discs around gorgeous outdoor courses with incredibly responsive hand movements. We’ve also been playing a silly game where we are Lego figurines acting out the Indiana Jones movies. The gameplay is basic and the graphics not overly astounding, but we are playing together, building little Lego objects, solving puzzles, or riding Lego horses.
We are talking, laughing, playing. Even something this simple has been a way to reconnect, to interact. TV is so static and required us to be quiet so we could hear dialogue. Now we can do something together, and when you love someone you’d be happy to do dishes together just to be with them. Playing games, silly as it sounds, has brought us together, and I’m happy to maneuver a Lego version of Indiana Jones around a screen if I can do it with her.