Moms Columns & Blogs

Learning on the Leapster

My wife and I have decided that our daughter is ready for one of those kid’s handheld video game systems.  After a little research we decided to go with the Leapster system (our research primarily consisted of a co-worker giving my wife the system her kids outgrew and the games to go along with it).  We really aren’t into letting our kid spend too much time in front of the TV or attached to some digital screen, but we figured that for some upcoming lengthy car rides the game system could make travel much easier.

We introduced the Leapster on Sunday, and my daughter was enthralled.  She wore out the rechargeable battery pack on the older system we were given down to where it would only hold a charge for 10 minutes.  I could either buy another charging kit, or for $10 more I could get her the latest and greatest Leapster and use my own rechargeable batteries.  So yesterday we went to Target and got the newer system (which is still compatible with the games we were given.  Score!).

Today we had plans to meet our good friends who moved to Chapel Hill halfway at the NC Zoo in Asheboro.  I knew this was a perfect opportunity to test out the not-even-24-hours-old Leapster system in preparation for an upcoming much longer drive to and from the coast.  I woke the kid up early, fed her, and loaded her into the car with only her new gaming system as entertainment for the hour and a half drive to the zoo.

Things were running smoothly-  the Leapster has a headphone jack, so I was able to listen to my music while she played.  Occasionally I’d glance in the rearview mirror and smile at my budding gamer enjoying whatever it was she was playing. 

Approximately 50 minutes into the drive she put the game down to the side.  

“Hmm” I thought, “perhaps she’s tired from me waking her up so early.”

Then suddenly I smelled a sour milk smell and felt a little unusual moisture on the back of my arm.  I turned around to see my kid covered head to toe, my backseat covered, and yes, even the new Leapster covered in the breakfast my daughter had earlier consumed.  

I took the next exit, starting to feel waves of dry heaves myself, and pulled over to inspect the situation.  Fortunately I had a brand new package of wet wipes stored in the glove box.  Unfortunately I haven’t rolled with a change of clothes in probably a year.  It became clear that we wouldn’t be making the zoo after all, unless they’ve relaxed that “no shoes no shirt no service” policy. 

Just the mention of the phrase “automotive travel” is enough to send my wife into waves of nausea, and it appears that this gene, combined with Leapster gaming, makes my kid sick, too.   

I called my friend, C,  and told her the situation- it was clear that my daughter did not have a fever and up until five minutes before breakfast redux she was perfectly fine.  Diagnosis: car sickness.  Still, my child was pratically naked on the side of the road and we smelled like the zoo before even getting there.

“No worries,” she said.  “Why don’t you just stop at a Walmart or something and buy some more clothes?” 

“Come on dammit… she’s naked!” I said. 

“Baaah, she’s probably not the first kid, today even, that was taken to the Walmart 55 miles outside of Charlotte inappropriately dressed” was C’s reply.

And she may well have been right.  Still, I wiped the car seat down as well as I could (secretly glad I didn’t have to sit in it in only my undies) and loaded us up to drive right back where we started.  Home.  On the way my daughter complained that she was bored and wanted something to do.  Unfortunately the Leapster was in a plastic bag in the trunk.

I know the Leapster is touted by its manufactures as an educational toy.  And boy did we learn something today.  Reminds me… I can make you a great deal on one that was used for less than 24 hours.  I think the “A” button is stuck and it kinda smells sour, but other than that it’s in pristine condition.