In my last post I mentioned that I am a late adopter, technology wise.
As such my children feel like pariahs. I know how they feel. When I was a child I was not allowed to watch Top of The Pops (unless Mrs Pugh our lovely babysitter was round in which case we did, sneakily) and so on Friday mornings at school, in between bouncing a tennis ball secured in the foot of one leg of a pair of old tights off a wall, I felt at a slight loss, conversationally.
I became an expert in ‘faking it’. Pretending some intricate tights/ ball manoeuvre (that sounds worse then it should) was requiring of my total concentration whilst I absorbed the first TOTP conversation of the day. Thereby allowing me to interject into subsequent conversations. Just enough to ensure my class mates believed I was an avid a viewer as them.
This is a skill that has served me well. Especially in my work when ‘blagging it’ was often necessary. I left the tennis ball at home though…which reminds me we now have an outside wall large enough for this game. I must introduce the offspring to it forthwith.
So where was I? Oh yes. Children. Pariahs.
For instance I resisted purchasing Minecraft for Middlest for a long time. I am sure everyone in the world has heard of Minecraft. If not I suggest you look it up. He pestered and pestered and pestered and pestered and in the end I relented and bought it for the PC for his birthday in August.
And the main reason I gave in was that I was sick of Stampy. Again everyone the world over (well certainly those reading this with kids around eight plus) will know exactly who I mean. Middlest is obsessed with watching his you tube videos.
In case you are not the owner of such a child I will fill you in. Stampy is a man who seems to make his living filming himself playing computer games- specifically Minecraft. He may play others but I doubt he has time. Stampy does not appear, well only in avatar form (which apparently is a cat), as the films are of the screen he is playing on and he then commentates over the top. I imagine it is actually quite a skill commentating constantly. But I had reached the point where if I heard his slightly high pitched voice ever again I was going to explode.
So I bought Middlest the game and went through the pain of installing it. To begin with I searched Amazon for a CD Rom of the game in a pretty box that he could actually unwrap. You see? Completely behind the times. It has to be directly downloaded from the Internet onto one’s computer. I was able to buy him a piece of paper with a randomly generated string of characters on though. I wrapped it up as excitingly as possible, which wasn’t all that exciting, not really. Anyway I ‘bought the game’ I thought it was preferable that he actually engage with the process, which as far as I can see is like virtual Lego but with monsters (but only on Survival mode- kind of Death Lego), rather than watch someone else play it.
And yet he STILL prefers to watch Stampy. And now a really rather endearing couple who play together. Pat and Jen. Although their names sound like something out of a Ladybird early reader do not be decieved they can hack away at creepers with the best of them. When I listen carefully I can detect a slight inequality in their relationship. And she is very giggly which annoys me. Tremendously. But otherwise quite endearing. I actually prefer them to Stampy. And at least it shows that IT geeks can get girlfriends. There is someone out there for everyone. But be quick I doubt there are many Jens left in the world.
This way of entertaining oneself is a phenomenon that puzzles me. Middlest is not alone in this house in the partaking of vicarious pleasure in such a way.
Eldest will watch other people assemble, adapt and test drive Nerf guns. For hours. I actually believe he would rather do this than fire actual foam bullets out of his actual Nerf Guns. He did say once that it saved him collecting the bullets….I despair… He will discuss the relative merits of the seemingly endless supply of you tube videos of youths testing Nerf guns. For instance he likes the style of a particular guy from Canada but the films are outdated as they get Nerf guns much later than everyone else and so he is always testing older models. And such like. Ad infinitum. Ad naseum.
I once caught them watching other people on you tube open packets of Pokémon cards. The excitement generated in my kitchen diner when one lucky random stranger got three EXs in one pack was palpable. I have heard of younger children watching other children open Kinder eggs on line.
I guess this is an extension of that other phenomenon. I call it ‘bees round the electronic device’. If one child has a personal electronic device other children would rather watch that child play on it, even if that child will not share the ‘go’s, than do anything else. At all. I think I saw this demonstrated once in a TV show (The Secret Life of a 4 Year Old?). The draw of these devices is incredible.
I have been trying to think of an equivalent from my childhood. And I have failed. I just can’t.
All credit to these people making money out of such ventures. It certainly saves me buying the actual guns, games, cards. But it is odd. Really odd.