Life is an adventure that is full of many twists, turns, lessons, hardships and joys. Hopefully, the overall net result is something that leaves one satisfied and fulfilled. Some vest their value in family and some find their pursuits aimed at the overall experience. Some seem to wander aimlessly while others are driven toward something great. I went to high school with plenty of aimless wanderers. They bounce off a lot of things.
All along the way, as we walk the path of life, we find ourselves coming across special markers. Life's little or big milestones. Throughout history, these milestones have changed and evolved to fit current lifestyles and cultural expectations. Family is a big part of where these milestones are found and what they consist of. And our family definitely has a number of newer milestones.
We have the classics like “big boy on the potty” and “sippy cup to real cup.” We even have “first cheeseburger.” Food is a big deal for us, if you couldn't tell. But then we have some new milestones that came about in the late '80s and early '90s that didn't exist before. I'm not talking about the “first boy band album.” No, something far more important…the first Nintendo.
We've been working with Nintendo as a sponsor for awhile, and we view their new Switch system as THE quintessential family gaming console. It's made from the ground up for that purpose. There's something for everyone from child to parent. I would have said grandpa, too, but he isn't allowed to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe anymore on account of being a little rough on the controllers. He somehow thinks he can beat his grandsons by pressing the “A” button (gas) harder than them. Bad Opa…bad! Go sit in your rocking chair.
As far as new milestones go, I pose that Nintendo is one of the best milestones for a 5-year-old to get, especially if they're a sibling. Coupled with mindful parenting, it can be a great learning tool for growing minds. Chelsea and I, of course, spent time debating the decision to finally take things to the Nintendo level. Chelsea had concerns about the boys making good use of their time and wanting to make sure they did not get sucked into an endless abyss of game play. I assured her of the following points, which won her over in the end.
Because Chelsea and I are the parents of four young boys, sharing was the first of our concerns. I told Chelsea that the first game we'd get would be Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. As it was a multiplayer, it would allow each of the boys to play together and individually at their own level. This would allow for the boys to not only spend time together playing one of the most fun games available, but also help us coach them into a better social order as they would have to learn to share and be patient.
With these types of games, the transition point for these coachable moments is very easily broken down into races and/or matches. Each of the boys gets a chance at a race to do the best that they can do while the other watches and cheers them on. Once this mindset of family sharing is accomplished, Nintendo Switch really shines. The single controller that comes with the system can be suddenly switched into two and each brother can go head to head and enjoy showing what they're made of.
The second outstanding function of Nintendo in our family is the one I pay most attention to. I have been waiting for the moment I could get a Nintendo controller into Sidekick's cute little hands for one nagging reason. Sidekick – as cute as he is – is not the most coordinated little guy in the family. His tiny fingers work in a similar fashion to two five-legged octopi dangling on the ends of his wrists. Sure, he can hold a cup…but he ain't threading any needles any time soon. We recently went through a series of doctor visits and testing because his cognitive abilities appeared to be processing slower than his brothers. It turned out that he could only hear about 40% of what we were saying! It was a simple fix with ear tubes, but the whole experience was a short term disadvantage that left him lagging behind his peers for a bit. Big boy decisions and responses are still taking longer for him than they should.
Because of my experience with Nintendo as a boy, I was very much looking forward to getting one of those controllers in his hands. The joy of playing a game is a wonderful byproduct from exercising hand-eye coordination. Sidekick enjoys racing “Mushroom Baby” (aka Toad) through the course, and I can't help but smile as I watch his fingers go from floppy pressings on the buttons and joystick to more precise, deliberate, and even calculated inputs in order to achieve victory. The progress is obvious as Mushroom Baby has gone from constantly crashing into the race track walls to seeking out opponents in order to launch shells at them.
Finally, Chelsea and I have made travel and exploration a big part of our family's lifestyle. This is where Nintendo Switch outshines them all. It's great being able to play our favorite games in the comfort of out living room at home. But, when it's time to hit the road, we don't have to stop the game just to leave. The whole system is made to be taken on the go. It can either be carried like an old Game Boy, with controllers and screen together, or the screen and controllers can be separated for more flexibility. It can even still be played with one primary controller as a two player so no matter where we go, the boys can challenge each other.
Milestones are a great way to measure moments in our lives. But milestones can also just be parts of our individual growth. Nintendo Switch is a platform that allows me as a father to work on the boys' sharing and caring skills, their cognition and coordination, and it helps us have old-fashioned fun together. As they say: the family that plays together, stays together. Unlike gaming systems of old, Nintendo Switch is not stuck in just one format. It transcends console by being able to shift to handheld, becoming a self-contained console, and going right back to playing on the family TV without hesitation. There aren't many devices that are both THE milestone and the mechanism that helps reach new milestones.
Does your family game together?