The girls’ Game Boy is currently “lost.”
Well, it’s lost to Cody, anyway.
A few Christmases ago, my mother-in-law asked me if it would be OK if they gave Rachel and Andie Game Boys for Christmas. Their uncle, 7 years their senior, had one and they loved playing it. I reluctantly said yes, not wanting to disappoint the girls, but also realizing the potential addiction of video games.
They each got a Game Boy and some games for Christmas that year, and we immediately gave them a limit on playing time (20 min. a day with a little more time earn-able by doing chores). All was well.
Until Cody started playing it too. Addiction is a gross understatement — this child’s days were absolutely consumed with the Game Boy.
My sweet, imaginative little boy became a monster. He started smuggling games out of his sisters’ room and subsequently losing them, whining horrendously when he was told he couldn’t play anymore, screeching in frustration when he reached a hard part, and he was always, always looking for the evil little black box if he didn’t know right where it was. It was pretty much all he thought about.
Then he started sneaking it into his room at night and playing it under his covers. (Isn’t it funny how clueless kids are that we’re going to figure out things like this? “How’d you know, Mom?” asked Cody upon discovery. They’re too young to think about details like the light from the Game Boy illuminating the quilt, not to mention the room.) Keeping Cody and the Game Boy apart became a daily chore.
His main form of punishment became banishment from playing it. That hit him where it hurt, and then he’d spend the whole day grumpy and out-of-sorts just because he couldn’t play his beloved Mario Brothers. I don’t know why I didn’t realize then what a problem this was getting to be, but it wasn’t until the Game Boy actually did go missing for about a month that I realized how bad the situation really was.
It was so nice to have the excuse to tell Cody he couldn’t play because we didn’t know where it was. Eventually, he reconciled himself to the fact that it was gone, forgot about it and became his old self again.
Unfortunately, the Game Boy reappeared and the whole cycle started over again. The begging to play, even after he’d already played his allotted time, the whining, crying and frustrated yelling . . . I was getting stressed myself just listening to him.
Lo and behold, a few months ago the Game Boy became “lost” again. (It was hidden in my room.) I did this for his own good, as well as for my sanity.
Recently, the girls started lamenting the loss of their Game Boys once again and complaining about how unfair it was that Cody lost *both* of them. So, I told them where the one we knew about was hidden and made them promise not to show Cody. I mean, it is their Game Boy, after all. Why should they have to be punished because their little brother is a crazed and compulsive video game addict?
So far so good.
And I know I made the right decision because when the girls had a friend over last weekend, she made the mistake of bringing her Game Boy over. Cody begged and begged her to play it, and she was nice enough to let him (I’m sure the annoyance of his begging didn’t hurt his chances either). Since it was a treat for him, ours being lost and all, I let him play it most of the day, a decision I soon regretted. It didn’t take long before the whining began, with Cody getting crabbier and more frustrated with the game by the hour.
“THIS is why our Game Boy is ‘lost’,” I whispered to the girls. They nodded in agreement.
Cody definitely won’t be getting a Game Boy of his own any time soon. Or ever. Anything that has that tremendous a hold on a person, particularly when it’s completely mindless, needs to be avoided. I want him to develop that amazing imagination he has, not stunt it with teeny characters jumping around in a box.
I just hope he doesn’t find the Game Boy, because if he does, it’ll have to go bye-bye for real this time.