“Mommy, can I play on the iPad?” my daughter calls from the kitchen, where I’m sure her hand is hovering over the device, waiting for my assent.
It’s Saturday morning. My husband left early for a round of golf, and I’m an “okay” away from a blissful hour sequestered with my writing book and favorite pen. Heck, I might even have a chance to finish this story instead of letting it tumble around in my head, spitting out phrases while I’m cutting into the right lane to avoid the car in front of me.
My other option for her is TV, but I’d rather have her on the iPad because she’ll be either playing Minecraft or watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft. She’ll build a world in “creative mode” with a swimming pool full of wool and probably a library. Her world will be blissfully threat-free until she switches over to “survival mode,” when the creepers, zombies, and pigs appear. “There are also spiders, Mommy,” she tells me, reading over my shoulder, “and pig men.”
To get ideas and inspiration she’ll watch YouTube videos of others playing Minecraft, like SkyDoesMinecraft, who recaps his quests as he saves villagers and cows. (I think the cows get saved; I’ll have to ask.) Sometimes Ava will watch Minecraft videos authored by people I assume are the spawn of drunken sailors who drop f-bombs and m-f bombs, amongst their “kill that ass-wipe” quips, which I’ll hear from the other room and say, “Ava, choose another video please.” So I prefer Sky, because he might have a clue that there’s a bunch of third graders watching and he does not swear like aforementioned cliched sailor spawn on leave from morality.
But even the cursing Minecrafters are better than pre-tween-targeted sitcoms on Disney or Nickelodeon. Let my sweet impressionable kid spend a day with China on AntFarm or Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place and my parental battles erupt. Bad language is easy to curb, but stupid adult stereotypes, sarcasm, backstabbing behavior, and contempt are not.
I wish this wasn’t true, because I love all of the Disney movies, and appreciate the recent releases with strong female characters, but I have yet to see an episode of any tween sitcom (as I’ll call them) in which the adults are not morons and the dialogue between the young characters is not caustic.
I can tell Ava a dozen times a day to be kind with her words. I can tell her that how she says something makes a difference, that she has a choice of being hurtful or helpful. But in the end, I give in to her request to watch Minecraft so she’ll still believe adults are intelligent, trustworthy counselors who can provide a broader perspective.
I know a fight is coming and my ability to advise may dwindle as Ava’s teen years approach, but I’m not willing to have my nine-year-old disregard everything I say.
I can hear Sky from the other room, where Ava is watching as he quests for, well, whatever he quests for on Minecraft. Gold? Butter? I don’t know. But Sky, if you’re reading, I hope you find it. Thanks for keeping the language PG.
P.S. Thank you, everyone, for the Reads, the Recs, the Tweets & RTs, and the intros to @SkyDoesMinecraf. I think he found this piece before anyone else! Ava would like me to add that she is also a fan of @iHasCupquake, who gets my vote for keeping her lang clean as well (although I’ve heard that Sky, not so much. My mistake!)