Shortly after breakfast this morning, Woodyette the Elder asked whether she could play on the computer. Not being Lileks, you see, I have to share the family machine with everyone. Mrs. Woody agreed, since she was in the office doing our finances for the week. She knows she can trump the girls' computer play whenever she's ready to pay a bill online. Daddy has no such preemptive power.
I generally don't have to pay much attention when the girls play, even online. We're both in tune enough to know if they're on a site they shouldn't be. Also, the girls are both still innocent enough that if they saw anything questionable, they would question it. Loudly. So, they spend time (an hour a day limit!) on Barbie.com, NickJr, Playhouse Disney, and so on.
Just now I glanced over at the machine. Both Woodyettes were sitting in front of the monitor, watching a static image. myscene.com has a beauty shop, and the girls were looking at a young lady getting her hair done. They had Little People figures in front of them which they were manipulating in front of the monitor.
They were being interactive.
The older Woodyette pioneered this practice in our family. She has a tremendous imagination. She has always been able to project herself mentally into any image, whether on TV or in a book. The other night I caught her walking a magazine around on the floor. It was a homeschooling magazine and had a photo of ballerina feet in the en pointe position. She was pretending to be a ballerina, using the feet in the photo.
The Little People, in this case, were customers of the beauty salon. Apparently this was more interesting than what the site was designed to do. Both girls were playing together without clicking the mouse more than once or twice in the ten minutes I witnessed. As play progressed, it became a drive-through salon, as indicated by the old-fashioned Little People (the old wooden ones, remember them?) in his vehicle. Later they were joined by a fuzzy caterpillar, although I'm not sure what his function was. Occasionally he becomes the herky-jerky car that sits outside of grocery stores and costs 50 cents to breakdown the moment your child sits in it.
I like to see this kind of interaction because it means the Woodyettes are still not content to let the computer do all their thinking and imagining for them. When the girls ask Daddy to play one of the Harry Potter games (their own hand-eye coordination being still under development), they immediately trot off to their room, don their Harry Potter robes, grab their Hermione wands, and dance around behind Daddy yelling "flippendo!" or "alohomora!" whenever the video Harry does the same. They get way more exercise than I do.
Of course, whenever Daddy decides to play "Indiana Jones" or my latest "Railroad Tycoon" (thanks, Sis!), the older Woodyette still loves to sit right by me and give helpful suggestions. "Try jumping off the cliff, Daddy! What happens if you jump off the cliff, Daddy?" "You die a horrible death." "Can I see it, Daddy?" She has even suggested that I try to build my railroads directly through mountains in timeframes where tunnelling technology was still a decade or two off. Just to see how the software will mock Daddy when he asks for something unreasonable. She lives for that.
So do I.