A lot of parents out there think educational games for their kids are great. That their children can have fun while learning at the same time.
These parents are idiots.
Educational games are not great. They are dangerous.
They are a gateway drug to pain and trouble.
How do I know this? Because I’m an idiot.
The Missus and I recently introduced our toddlers to computer games. This was done with no small amount of trepidation.
The Missus worried the kids would park themselves in front of the computer, never to move again, and just slowly grow larger and larger.
And I don’t mean in height.
She also had an irrational fear about moss accumulation, and how one could safely scrape it off skin, but I allayed that fear by saying we’d just keep the computer room too dark for moss to grow.
I’m a genius that way.
My worry was more practical. I was terrified they’d get into online gambling, incur huge debts, and one day I’d wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a note saying, “Sorry, Daddy, but it was your kidneys or our kneecaps. Hope you don’t mind. Also, get to a hospital ASAP.”
Some nights, the nightmare is even worse. I’m in the tub, but because my kids can’t read or write yet, there is no note prompting me to get to a hospital so I try to go into work instead.
The dream doesn’t end well.
The first mistake we made was underestimating the computer savvy of three year olds.
The second mistake we made was resurrecting an old computer for the exclusive, lightly supervised use of the kiddos.
As I set up the computer and searched the web for suitable educational games, my kids sat on either side of me, absorbing every move I made.
In hindsight, the furtive huddling and quiet whispering in the days that followed should have tipped me off that trouble was afoot.
Soon my novice hackers were clicking on links, adjusting Flash settings, and typing stuff into Google.
They even managed to install Chrome on the machine. One day, I walked up to the computer, and there it was on their desktop.
All this despite still being illiterate.
The educational games gave them a taste for electronic entertainment, and knowing that clicking on words that are a different color on the screen will take you to a new web page introduced them, with just a few clicks, to less educational games.
Far less educational games.
Shortly after the computer game experiment began, my kids were running around shouting “Ninja punch!” while slamming their fists in the air.
To be sure, not our original intention.
This led inevitably to them running up to me, pounding on my stomach, back, thighs, or whatever part of me was handy and facing them, then darting away while taunting, “It’s game over for you, Daddy!”
It was during the course of these attacks that they discovered Daddy’s weakness.
And once discovered, they exploited it ruthlessly, as only toddlers can.
They began punching me in the junk.
And headbutting me in the junk.
The only thoughts that could form in that hazy, red cloud of pain I endured while curled in a fetal position was, “Thank goodness they’re too short to kick me.”
Then they started climbing into my bed at first light and kicking me in the junk.
So heed this warning, written to you from a hospital bed as I recover from not one, but two ruptured testicles, and bruising in that region so severe that heretofore they were unknown to medical science:
Don’t get your kids started on educational games. Because corporal punishment is illegal in most states, and that’s really the only thing that might stop them once they’ve moved on to the harder stuff.
—And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My reproductive options may no longer be available, but my books still are!