This past holiday season, I was outsourced by Santa Claus.
I'm a baby sitter. I finger-paint macaroni to make necklaces. I play games and lose to 3-year-olds. I make weird noises and pretend I'm a tyrannosaurus rex. I have Dr. Seuss books committed to memory. I sing songs and judge dance contests. I scramble to stop drinks from spilling and to save the dog from eating M&Ms.
That was all a part of my job. Or at least it was until Santa dropped off a Nintendo Game Cube for Christmas.
The same children who used to make me swing them around until I was out of breath and about to fall over now wouldn't let me pick them up if I begged and pleaded. They couldn't care less about the arts and crafts projects they used to look forward to every week. The video game has conquered all.
It does everything I used to do, and they watch and listen to it very carefully. If technology could find a way to make Nintendo perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, the world would never need another baby sitter.
I'm almost as fascinated with the way the kids play the video games as the kids are fascinated by the games themselves. I would never be able to get them to sit still like they do in the glow of the television, moving only their thumbs and forefingers for hours on end.
They sit still. In the same spot. And they enjoy it! Is this too good to be true? It's made my job so easy that I feel guilty taking money for watching them. Literally, "watching them" is what I do.
I used to be able to give great reports to the parents at the end of the night. It was fun stuff like: "We played tag until the sun went down." And, "Oh, I have to show you this great Cheerios sculpture we made." Now it's more like: "Yeah. They played Mario until I bribed them to go to sleep."
I guess I've always assumed that it was in the nature of children to be in constant motion and always making noise. "Let them be kids," I always heard my mother say when my brother and I or our friends were making a commotion. Now that I'm a "grown-up," I understand what she meant.
We only get a little bit of time in life that can be devoted to hopping around, screaming, dancing like a chicken or any other wacky activity our little heart desires. It's our childhood.
I'm a junior in college and I feel like I've been sitting in the same spot, staring at a computer screen and moving my fingers around for about three years nonstop. That's not the most fun thing I can think of to do with my time or my body, and I hate to see little ones spending their childhood doing basically the same thing.
Someday they will be obligated to sit all day at a computer and they won't want to do it. It drives me crazy to see my usually rambunctious sweethearts turned into video game zombies.
So, I'm crying out to parents: Save your local baby sitter -- give her a job. Don't buy the kids more video games. They'll have plenty of time in the future to sit in the same spot mesmerized by a glowing screen. It's called college.
Andrea Tomala is a student at Niagara University.