After more than a month of staring at the box, I finally opened it. Inside was a Christmas gift, one I didn't ask for, or ever indicate wanting. I knew a lot of others who had received the same thing and loved it, but to me, it seemed too good to be true - and against everything I had preached for so long to my children.
The gift was the Wii Fit, the revolutionary new way to exercise and have fun with the family. No matter how great it sounded in my mind, it was just another video game.
Video game: two words that have always been evil in my mind. And I have reminded my kids over and over how they shouldn't play them too much - they aren't good for you, they'll rot your brain - the list of horrible things goes on and on. Now, I was opening one for myself.
I took the contraption out of the box, a platform to be weighed and balanced on, and games to work out with. That's as far as I got before the children flocked to it like vultures. The next thing I knew, they had it set up and were running in place staring at the television screen like they were on the biggest sugar high in the world.
I was confused. If I were to ask them to run in place, they would look at me like I'm crazy, but the game could instruct them to and they would run for hours, not going anywhere
but the imaginary dirt trail on the screen. The fact the game had more influence than I did bothered me, only for a moment.
The running continued. They looked ridiculous, but they were occupied - they were active and they were getting tired. The Wii Fit started to make sense. I started to like the machine that was slowly but surely burning pent-up energy that comes with a long, cold, Minnesota winter.
"Mom do you want to try?"
"No, you can play as long as you want," I said. "That running game looks like a lot of fun." I said it like I was really making a sacrifice for them, not to mention the act of myself running in place on our wood floors would be like letting elephants in the house.
Eventually, after about 15 more minutes, they started to tire. The timing was right, since it was bed time. They fell fast asleep, but not before discussing who could run longer and how they were going to try it out tomorrow.
I then took a peek at the Wii. I had never really played any of the games. I would catch my husband quite often on the golf game, but it didn't appeal to me - until that night. I played tennis until my arm was about to fall off, and my husband caught me and gave me the I told you so look, though he'd never say it because I'd never admit I was wrong.
Since that day, the Wii has become my friend. However, I don't condone hours of play or use it as a babysitter. I don't believe it is a revolutionary tool that brings families together, nor does the system replace a trip to the YMCA or any other real activity.
The Wii isn't going to eradicate childhood obesity, and, to be honest, when I hear about kids using it during their physical education classes, I do get a little irritable.
I have come to the conclusion that, like most everything else, in moderation it's OK. A month and a half after Christmas, I have now realized the game works much better, at least when it is out of the box.