My guilty school holiday parenting secret

A mum writes an imaginary letter to her sons about their obsession with Minecraft …

Dear Miles and Asher,

I need you to know something. I need you to know that I just can’t talk to you about this game. I don’t understand Minecraft at all and I have no desire to try. Sure, I want to be interested in what you’re saying to me, but I just can’t. Because you say things like, I built a chair! I saw a chicken! I got an egg, ha ha ha!!! and my eyes get that unfocused look because I’m staring past you and my brain has shut down. I can’t help it. I’m only human.

That’s why I say Uh huh with no feeling, over and over. I’m not listening at all. You probably can tell, because you’re smart. Whether or not you love this game, please know I still think you’re very smart. Lots of smart people do things that make no sense and then talk incessantly about those things.

That said, I’m strangely still glad you’re so passionate about this weird game because it gives you something to do between the hours of 1pm and 3pm while your sister naps and then I can do whatever I please.

Yes, one day when you read this you will learn that I allowed you TWO HOURS a day, in the holidays, to play this thing where you push on arrows and then click on bricks and build things and then push on the bricks and break them up RIGHT AFTER YOU BUILT THE THING and maybe this happens on a hill, I don’t know, the angle is weird.

My friend Kim said, “We put it on peaceful mode” and I was all, “THERE’S A PEACEFUL MODE?!” I had no idea, because I did not care enough to look up how to make Minecraft more peaceful. Is it bloody? Is it bad? I asked myself that but I could not bring myself to look at it for long enough to find out. So for a moment I had a pang of guilt and felt like less of a mother than Kim but then I just let it go, to be honest. I feel a bit tormented by this game and I don’t want to think about it anymore than you are already making me think of it.


I mean, boys. I would overhear you, sitting there side by side, saying things like “Look out for that zombie! Or KILL THOSE CHICKENS!” Then I would think things like HOW SAD, to KILL CHICKENS! but I figured it could be worse, like you could be playing Call of Duty or some awful thing, while I scrubbed dried spaghetti sauce off the table and the floor and the counter. (Your sister was eating.)

I would never let you play Call of Duty, so I’m still a really good parent. A parent that allows chicken-killing, but a good one nonetheless.

I will also have you know that it has been very hard to keep setting the timer for twenty minutes so you can take turns but something had to be done about the turns because you fight over Minecraft like it’s air. Then you sit there and watch each other and you tell each other what to do like it’s your own turn, so I don’t even know why I have to keep walking back into the kitchen to set the timer for another twenty minutes. Your turns are both of your turns, or something as confusing as that, like Minecraft.

Is there something deeper I’m missing? Maybe Minecraft is simply above my intelligence? To build, to conquer, to survive….TO LIVE.

I don’t think so. It seems more like WOLF! BRICK! NIGHT!

I admit, my confusion about the point of the game (and the setting of the timer) are the only down-sides to the two hours you sit down to push arrows. Because, TWO HOURS FREE FOR ME.

Oh but I guess there’s also the fact that after you’re done playing Minecraft on the screen, you’re going to talk to me, very slowly and carefully and excitedly about all that occurred, in the minivan, all the way to wherever we’re going for the afternoon. Or out on the back porch, you’ll stand in our little blow-up pool and talk about it and go on and on and on….


I just don’t get it, I’ll say. Then you’ll say, It’s because it’s survival mode! or something like that, as if this clears it up.

Then after that, you act out Minecraft in real life with each other and I tell  myself that this is why it’s good you played for two hours straight per day–it’s because it ignited your creativity in imaginary play and off you go….

until you’re fighting about how one of you is not doing it right and then you’ll cry to me about why the other one isn’t doing it right. That’s how it goes. Then you’ll start explaining it again, so that I will fully understand why you have been so wronged and I will just walk away and say I can’t help, because that game makes no sense to me. Just go start over…put a brick on a brick or something…

Muuuuum. That’s what you say after that. So I just keep walking and I then hope you’ll just figure it out and go back to playing Minecraft in real life, wrong, against each other. Zombies and chickens. Non-peaceful. It’s not peaceful in real life either. Oh well.

Earlier today you shouted out loudly, I MADE THE BIGGEST TREE EVER! I MADE THE BIGGEST TOWER AND THEN I JUST FELL OFF OF IT ON PURPOSE AND DIED!!! Then you laughed like it was the funniest thing that ever happened.

That there is a good example of why I have no idea what the H is going on.

Is this how my parents felt when Super Mario Bros first arrived on the scene? Or Tetris?


I did play both addictively in the 7th and 8th grade but I feel those two games had a very clear purpose. Each one. Save the princess! Beat all the levels with your shapes!

This little letter to you doesn’t really have a purpose either, I realise. I just felt that you should know I weathered another parenting storm when Minecraft came to be. That’s how much I love you. Two hours a day worth, my boys. Two hours.


P.S. I don’t even think there are mines in that game at all. I realize you “craft” chairs and towers and such, but I haven’t seen a mine. Then again, maybe there are. I don’t like looking.

P.P.S. Miles, I asked you why you like Minecraft so much and you said this: I don’t really know why except it interests us. And you can spawn things. Like cows. You can spawn cows that have black and white spots. I mean, not like a white cow with black spots but more like a black cow with white spots and you can put them up and then they all fall off and that’s so funny….or you can keep them…. 

Uh huh….

Do you have a guilty holiday parenting secret? Do tell …

When people ask Heather King What do you do, she says, I Mum a lot. Sometimes she adds that she’s a writer, a Listen To Your Mother director and a contributor at Owning Pink and A Deeper Family. Before she was a mother, she worked in social work, providing services for people struggling with mental illness. These days she loves that she stays at home with her boys and her girl and writes when she can from her office/guest room. Check out her blog, The Extraordinary Ordinary by clicking here.

Main photo credit: Mieke Dalle/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images