My son loves the computer game Minecraft. A lot.
He is only 5 years old, but Minecraft is simple enough that he can enjoy it, and complex enough that it encourages his creativity. When he’s not playing it, he’s usually talking about it. He used to enjoy playing with friends, but with the advent of Covid-19 we haven’t had any of his friends over in a long time. As an only child, he really misses these interactions with his peers. One day he became so melancholy about not having anyone to play Minecraft with him, that I told him I would learn so we could play together.
I only did this as a way to love my son. I never was much interested in Minecraft and didn’t think I would really enjoy the experience. But I was pleasantly surprised.
I am a creative person by nature, a writer by training, and a homemaker by trade. The freedom and creativity of Minecraft to build, create, and improve, appealed to all that, and the endless possibilities ignited my imagination. My son and I began building a house in Minecraft, and it ended up being a project that thoroughly engrossed us for several days.
When we weren’t working on it, we were talking about it, and sharing our excitement over the project together. It made me so happy to see my son’s gladness, and hear him say, “I’m SO excited you’re learning Minecraft!” to hear his encouragement as I slowly learned the controls, “You’re doing SO good!” or, when I completed a project, no matter how badly I felt I had done, to hear him say, “You’re the BEST Minecraft player!”
I never expected that by entering into this aspect of my son’s world, I would feel more connected to him.
You see, I didn’t grow up with many electronics. I learned to play computer games as an adult, and it was hard for me. It takes me a long time, and a lot of work, to get decent at them, and much of the time I would rather be reading a book. But my son, while he enjoys hearing stories, at age 5 is a fledgling reader and has not yet learned the joy of a good book. But he has grown up with computer games. He has learned how to move a figure around in Minecraft before he knew the alphabet. This is a big part of his world. And for the longest time, it was a part of his world I had no place in.
This has changed all that. I get, now, why he loves it so much. I have enjoyed it far more than I ever thought possible. But even if I didn’t – seeing the look of joy on his face when it is time to play, receiving his hugs and hearing his happiness when he says, “I am SO glad you are playing Minecraft with me!” makes it completely worth it.
Years ago, I never would have thought about learning Minecraft. Now, we are not going out, we are spending much more time at home because of Covid-19. Our interactions with people are limited. So, we are playing Minecraft together. We are building a world, sharing creativity, and best of all, bonding over an activity that we can both enjoy.
It doesn’t take very much to make a child happy. Entering into and sharing their interests can make them feel so special and loved. Putting in the effort to truly understand what they love makes more of a difference than we might think. And during these difficult times, it is worth taking extra effort to be there for them, to spend time with them, to listen to them, and to find special activities that can help build bonds as a family so that when all this is over, there can still be good memories. I am grateful for the new understanding I have of this, gained through my experience playing Minecraft.
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