A Household Word: No, No Nintendo™!

It’s December. That means that it’s prime time for my 10-year-old son to remind me what he wants for Christmas (a Nintendo™), for Hanukkah (a Nintendo™), for his half birthday (a Nintendo™) and as a reward for finishing his supper (a Nintendo™).

When I was 10, I begged my parents for a pony, but times have changed and gifts of livestock don’t hold the same appeal for this generation. My son wants electronics. My son wants Nintendo™.

According to Lewis, he’s the only kid in town, quite possibly the only child in all of America, that doesn’t have a Nintendo™ game system. And it’s not fair. This makes our house really boring and makes me a serious contender for the Joan Crawford Motherhood Award.

The way my son sees it, depriving him of a Nintendo™ is tantamount to withholding food or forcing him into hard labor. It’s practically child abuse and it’s just not fair. Besides, everybody else has one.

“Please Mom,” he begs. “I’ll even pay for it with my own money.”

But, as I have explained to him during the weeks preceding other gift-giving holidays, money isn’t the issue, even if he could save enough dollar bills from the Tooth Fairy. I know Nintendo™ doesn’t cost a fortune – our family easily spends the equivalent on stuff like circus tickets, Girl Scout cookies or a dinner out. It’s the mind-numbing, sit-on-your-butt, seizure-inducing lack of creativity that makes me want to embrace a more Amish lifestyle.

“Lewis,” I sigh. “If they were giving away Nintendo™ at Toys ’R Us, I would say, ‘No thanks’ and head straight to the Legos™.”

“How about if I get all A’s on my report card?” he asks hopefully. “Then can I get a Nintendo™?”

Somehow, rewarding academic achievement by encouraging Mario Party doesn’t seem right. And, if he doesn’t get stellar grades, I don’t want him playing Super Monkey Ball when he could be reading, reviewing his multiplication tables or developing cold fusion.

Besides, having one more thing in our house that I have to monitor, regulate and negotiate about will drive me over the edge. I’m already nagging my kids to turn off the TV, log off the computer and hang up the phone so that they can finish their homework, clean their rooms and practice saxophone. I don’t need to add Nintendo™ to the mix.

Families who do have Nintendo™ argue that their kids hardly ever play it. If that’s the case, I don’t see why I should spring for one. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard any parent say, “We’re so glad that we bought little Tyler a Nintendo™. Luigi’s Mansion has been such an enriching experience.”

Sure, it would be easy to make my son happy this holiday season. I could just break down and buy the Nintendo™ Game Cube and the game cartridges, or I could attempt to develop his character with the gift of disappointment.

Yesterday, as I drove a herd of 10-years-olds to music lessons, one little girl queried the group: “Do you believe in Santa?”

The kids murmured mixed replies. Some wavered on the verge of disbelief, others were still fervent in their faith. Then my son spoke up: “If I get a Nintendo™ for Christmas, I’ll know that Santa’s real. My parents will never buy one for me.”

He’s right. He’s not getting a Nintendo™, but he may just get a pony.

Carol Band develops her kids’ character by putting the “No” in Noel. Write to her at

See the complete archive of Carol’s Household Word columns.