Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Play Minecraft - A Mom's Beginner's Guide - Warning! Minecraft is Addictive!

A Mom's Beginner's Guide to How to Play Minecraft and not die.

My three kids started playing Minecraft years ago. I made sure there was no blood, no gore, no vulgar language and, then let them be, to do their thing.

I soon found out that Minecraft is addictive. It’s very difficult to pull them away from it once they start. Why is it so addictive? I wasn’t able to answer this question until a few weeks ago. Minecraft is addictive because it is so dang fun!

At the beginning of summer, my 14-year-old daughter asked me if I would like to play Minecraft with her. I put her off for a while. I do everything for them: I cook, clean, chauffeur, provide for their every waking want and need, do I really have to play video games with them too? But, she persisted, so I relented. After all, when was the last time your teenage daughter asked you to play anything with her?

One of the first things I learned was that Minecraft has its own lingo. I spent a good part of the first afternoon coming up with the perfect name for my Minecraft character (Sparkleheart158), then my daughter helped me to create the perfect “skin,” complete with a polka dot t-shirt and a blue ribbon in her hair.

With Sparkleheart158 created and ready to go, my daughter unceremoniously plopped me down in a “lan world,” at nighttime. It was dark, I had no idea where I was and there were monsters after me, the variety and ferocity of which I only learned about later. I was almost immediately killed and “respawned” in the same spot. I did this over and over and over again, while my children stood behind me and laughed. Hilarious, right?! Mom is so stinkin’ hilarious.

After a few unsuccessful attempts of hiding behind trees and running for my blocky little life, my kids clued me in on how to survive in “survival mode:” Use your hands to punch some trees to make some weapons, make a shelter, even if it’s just digging into the side of a hill, and try not to be blown up by a “creeper,” not be confused with the “zombies” or the arrow shooting skeletons.

I quickly realized that survival mode was not for me. I am more of a “creative mode” mom. In creative mode, you have access to all of the Minecraft tools and resources. No need to mine or smelt or farm. Whatever you can imagine you can build! The kids and spent a few fun evenings getting on a LAN world together, creating and building villages, then switching back over to survival mode so we could war against the mobs of monsters.

At one point, I would have considered the time I spent playing Minecraft with my kids as a waste, but now I have a peek into their world, an understanding of something that they get excited about, and now maybe, at some level, they know that there is no limit to what I will do for them. I’ll even take a flaming arrow to the chest from a skeleton for them, provided I was wearing some diamond armor. Let’s not get crazy, now.

Here are a few tips every Minecraft mom needs to know:

1. It’s one of the most benign games out there. As previously stated, no blood, no gore, no vulgar language.

2. Your kids can be as social or anti-social with it as they like. They can play solo-dolo or with others. The cooperation side of it can be really fun. They can control with whom they play.

3. Imagination has no limits in Minecraft. Where else can they give a cow a ride in rowboat?

4. They can also learn good world management skills. Will they be kind of creator that protects their villagers with home and hearth? Or will they be the kind that will dump a bunch of zombies in a large pit; just to watch them burn at sunrise?

5. Again, as previously stated, Minecraft is addictive because it is so much fun. Try playing it yourself for a while so you can understand why it’s so hard to pull them away once they get started. Instead of just pulling the plug, set reasonable limits and help them to learn to manage their game time for themselves.

A lot of moms love being crafty, now try being Minecrafty!

What We Learned From Our Teenager's First Car Accident

First of all, thankfully, no one was hurt. There was only minor damage to the other car. Our van suffered from a crushed in frontside panel and wheel.

It happened just down the street from our house.

My son, who has only had his license for three months, was leaving our neighborhood. He pulled up to the intersection, looked right to see that the coast was clear, noticed my husband was driving up the street, thought to himself,

"Hey, there's Dad!"

Then, he proceeded straight through the intersection.

See the problem?

If you said, "He didn't look left!" You passed the driver's test!

The other driver was also a teenager. She did him the favor of hitting his front wheel, instead of the driver's side door of the family van that we bought when my sons were first born. We have owned it for 17 years, it has over 200,000 miles and still chugging'.

Her Ford F-150 faired a lot better.

My son is a lucky young man. His first and, hopefully, his only wreck happened nearby with his dad as a witness. My husband was able to help him deal with the other driver, her dad, the police, and the tow truck.

So, what did we learn?

We learned not to pile on. My son was shocked, scared, embarrassed, and deflated. I had a few minutes to process before he walked in the door. I had a chance to think about what I wanted to say. I'm glad I didn't add insult to injury, or non-injury, thank goodness. I didn't yell, although I wanted to. I love that van. We raised our kids in that van. I didn't demand explanations. The look on his face was enough. I saw what he was going through was not easy. I didn't pile on.

We learned that these ARE the moments for long talks. Teenagers hate long talks. You have to use them judiciously. Later that night, when the dust had settled, the van had been towed the half a city block to our driveway, and we had a chance to eat and let our emotions settle, we talked. We let him talk first. He expressed all the feelings we hoped he would say; regret, resolve to do better, and an understanding of the cost to the family. Again, we didn't pile on.

We or I should say, my husband learned to fix the struts on the van. He watched a few videos on YouTube and ordered the parts from Amazon. It makes me laugh to think about how differently we do things from our parent's generation. And our kids, in turn, will do things differently from us.

We learned not to fix the body damage. We left the dented-in driver's side front panel as a reminder to our son and a warning to other drivers.

So, what will we do next time, if there is a next time? 

We will unlearn everything! We WILL pile on! We will have the longest, baddest talk in the world, where his dad and I do most of the talking! We, or should I say, my husband, will not watch any YouTube videos about automotive repair and we will not take advantage of free shipping from Amazon Prime to get 200 lbs worth of car parts to our front door!

Because that boy...will be walking.