We had persuaded the kids out to the beach for one last hurrah before the new term. Whilst having a paddle with my six year-old son, he started nattering away about matters close to his heart, as he is prone to do. Instead of getting wrapped up in my own thoughts, as I am prone to do, especially when paddling at the beach, I made sure I hung on his every word.
He was talking about Minecraft. Heard of it? Probably. Understand it? If you’re like me, then absolutely not. Yet here was the boy doing his utmost to get me to appreciate what it is all about and what you do and would I like to play it with him later.
‘OK, ‘ I said, but later got hijacked by the usual chores such as sorting the dinner and then the dishes.
And before I knew it, they were back at school. Ah the peace. The opportunities opened up to get things done like, well, let’s be honest here… go on facebook.
God, I hate facebook sometimes. The other week I came that close to shutting down my account. Yeah, really. But then it flashed up the message ‘are you sure?’ and proceeded to list various ‘friends’ who would miss me. I knew most of them wouldn’t actually miss me at all, but hey there was a vague chance one of them would so I relented and clicked on the back button.
Anyway on this occasion, I chanced upon one of those round robin posts that I usually can’t stand, but this one struck a chord. It was a poem called ‘Slow Down, Mummy.’ Clearly I wasn’t its target audience per se, but the sentiment was thus – a little kid saying ‘slow down Mummy, come spend time with me… those dirty dishes can wait, etc.’ Terrible poem actually, but with a good message.
And so when the kids got home from school, I shunned the chores – well, eventually – and turned off facebook. Yes, that former colleague who had last messaged me in 2008 would have to miss me a little bit longer. I had an appointment with my two kids and… Come Dine With Me.
Over the summer holiday, for some reason, they had got into Come Dine With Me. I gave them their dinner and sat down with them to watch it. We chatted a bit too, my eight-year-old daughter talking about what she’d learnt that day (hieroglyphics, apparently). It proved to be some very good quality time and I resolved to make this a regular thing.
Of course, it didn’t last and soon both kids were off doing their own thing. My daughter’s latest obsession is watching a YouTube video of someone else playing the Minecraft game. A father and son in America, would you believe.
‘Why on earth do you like watching someone else play the game?’ I asked her when she was still there after almost an hour. ‘What is the attraction?’
Needless to say, she just shrugged her shoulders. But when my wife came home from work, she shed some light on it.
‘It’s obvious,’ she said. ‘It shows a father and son bonding over the game she loves. You should try it.’
And I remembered what the boy had asked me on the beach the other day. Just then he asked me to play on the Wii with him. Skylanders Giants – another world alien to me that I have yet to even vaguely comprehend.
Before I could try, he got distracted by something else and those dishes weren’t going to sort themselves, were they?
Still, the Come Dine With Me hour was a good start.