There are certain milestones all children reach and cross as they grow, but I think in this modern cyber age there are some additional ones that our generations have not experienced as children but perhaps many of us have as adults.
Last Friday evening, when I arrived home from work for dinner, the three of us decided it was a movie night. Kathryn selected "Cinderella III" as the evening film. We cleaned up after dinner and moved to the living room for a Disney fantasy.
Due to the recent storms, I noticed our Wii console was not powered. For some reason since we bought it a few years ago we learned when we lose power, the console needs to be reset by unplugging it and letting it sit unpowered before plugging it in again.
As is common at three and a half, Kathryn asked Mommy, "What is Daddy doing?" because she was ready for the movie. Mommy said, "Daddy is just resetting the Wii." "What's a Wii?" was the next question to which Mommy answered a video game. By this time I had the console unplugged and was waiting the customary two or three minutes.
"A video game?" she said. "Yes," said Mommy, "Daddy needs to unplug it and plug it back in, then we can watch our movie."
We really didn't even consider her possibly being interested in playing a video game, so the next question surprised us. "Can I try a vid-e-o game?" she asked sounding out the word video in her cute, slow but careful manner. I looked at Mommy and Katie looked at me and we shrugged. We really had nothing better to do and we figured if it didn't work we could still watch the movie.
Katie said to our little girl. "I guess we could try a simple one. How about some bowling?" Bowling is one of Katie's favorite Wii games next to golf which is the one game she seems to be the only one to understand. I thought my real golf game was bad, but when you consistently get told by a computer to give up at a hole, it begins to wear on the ego. So bowling it was.
We had two controllers set up so we gave her one and Katie took the other. I "helped" Kathryn with hers so she could learn how to use it. Unlike most consoles, Nintendo Wii was the first to introduce dynamic controllers in which you act out what you want to happen in the game. For example, if you play baseball, then you swing the controller to hit the ball or flick your arm to pitch.
In the case of bowling you simply drop your arm, press the button and then snap your arm up at your elbow releasing the button as you snap. This causes the video bowling ball to roll down your virtual alley and hopefully knock down several pins.
I want to note we still are not sure whether Kathryn is left handed or right handed. She seems to use both as needed so we tried attaching the controller to her left wrist but she consistently sliced the ball. Mommy suggested we switch arms and on the right hand Kathryn began to bowl much straighter. She consistently knocked down more pins and her first game was rather respectable for a three year old novice.
After the game ended, she immediately wanted to play Daddy whose Wii Bowling game at the time was not much better than the real thing. In fact I used to kid people when I was teaching computers that my bowling score is an excellent score for a round of golf while my golf game is a fantastic bowling game. My first score was a dismal 70-something. Kathryn's second game was a remarkable 70-something that was slightly higher than mine with no help.
We set up the third controller and decided to go for a three person game. Katie was first, Kathryn second and I was bringing up the rear. I bowled inconsistently. My frames were all over the place just like my bowling ball - five pins here, three pins there with an odd seven or eight pins mixed in. While I was struggling, Katie and Kathryn were playing one serious game. Katie is bowling strikes and spares and by the fourth frame, Kathryn was bowling seven or eight pins and picking up spares consistently.
As we watched dumbfounded, Katie who reached 128 or so was followed by Kathryn with a 102 and me trailing back at 60 or 70. Kathryn jumped up and down and said. "Can we play again?" The second time around was a massacre but surprisingly the people who ended up at the bottom were Katie and me.
We played our best games against her and granted it was the first time either of us played in over a year. We lost. No make that royally skunked. The second game was a rout ending with one strike in ten frames for me, four spares spread out for Katie and seven spares three of which were converted splits and a strike for good measure for Kathryn. Our little bowling hustler beat us and set a new personal record of 140 while Katie was at 124 and I was at an embarrassing 94.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Kathryn asked if we wanted to play for pennies. Just kidding about the last part, but I was impressed. Many make milestones but few do it so profoundly as my daughter did. Now I have to train to beat my three year old. Wish me luck I'm going to need it.
Til next time…