In our family, the solution has been the Wii. Getting one was Mike's call. I wasn't that enthusiastic about it, but I went along.
It has been great.
With the exception of Thomas being so facinated with it (and in wiring and plugs in general, boy, that child is asking for it on so many fronts...I should give him some electrical engineering texts and stand back with a fire extinguisher at the ready), so much so that our little man yanked the wiring out of the drum set that goes to Guitar Hero. I was very impressed with Mike's restraint when he found out.
The drum set now stays theoretically safe in our room after a goodly amount of time was spent by Mike to rewire it using bits and pieces he picked up and cleverly spliced together in McGuyver fashion to make the thing work again.
Thomas with his non-Wii bongo and chopsticks
Mike further distinguished himself by researching and figuring out how to hack the Wii and make it play the games I'd picked up in the states as well as the ones from here. Did you know there are zones for games? Also DVDs. Dude! It's a conspiracy, man!
Here the Nintendo games are "PAL" whereas back in the states they are "NTSC". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAL And ne'er the twain shall meet...unless hackerboy Mike gets involved. There was a risk involved...spoken of in low voices is the chance that you shall end up "bricking" your Wii; rendering it completely and utterly useless.
Mike is very proud of the outcome of his weekend project. Rightfully so, too.
Though I still keep the thing at arm's length, knowing full well that if I get into it there's no telling how addicted (and how much time I would therefore waste and how much trouble the three-year old would get into as a result of my neglect) the Wii has been a kick for parties.
Being the selfless folk that we are, we've had two Wii parties this Ramadan. We opened our home, our refrigerator, and our liquor cabinet. The last was particularly selfless as we can't get any more alcohol until Ramadan is over. Once your stock is gone, it's gone.
It's a hard life, I know.
Our friends, however, are courteous and well versed in BYOB so the dent made in our stocks was not as drastic as it might have been. Therefore we got to hold the second party.
At the first party I surprised myself by actually performing, after many requests, the singing part of Guitar Hero. Now, I am the girl who tells her friends: If you drink too much I will rub your back while you're hunched over the toilet, I will even wash vomit out of your hair, but by all that is good and holy do NOT ask me to join you singing Karaoke! There are limits to even my friendship. Mostly it was that the bar was set low enough that I figured maybe I could come out of it looking good.
The Wii is vaguely evil in that if you have any vibrato in your voice (you know, the technique that makes you sound like a good singer!) it says you're not singing on the note. You have to sing it flat and straight and then it works fine.
Can you imagine me belting out Beastie Boys' "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn"? No?
I know the words, and I tried hard, but this white girl can not exactly rap.
And let's all be grateful for that.
As per Dubai culture, no one shows up until at least an hour after the appointed time, and people stay until they have someplace else to go or are shooed out with a broom.
Which is great. Especially since these were all coworkers and it's fun to see them relax and let their hair hang down. They had a fabulous time playing the drums, the guitars, rocking out, laughing and groaning over the game and their attempts at rock stardom.
Also highly amusing to watch them try very, very hard not to swear in front of the kids, especially during the Mario driving games. Swearing, I am told, is a prerequisite for working a construction site. Even, or perhaps especially, on the techincal and administrative side. Sort of like being in the military.
However, the long-standing policy in our house is, if you teach our kids a "new word", that word becomes your name. You will be known thereafter as "Auntie or Uncle _______".
There were no rechristenings necessary. These are good people.
Mike practiced long and hard between the parties so he could be the MAN at the second party. I think he pulled it off. Bethy demonstrated that she has a good sense of rhythm and does particularly well at the beginner level of drumming.
A side affect has been her, er, appreciation for classic and 80's rock. Last night she told me, when we were goofing off while I tucked her into bed, "You're crazy, Mom!" and launched, without further provocation and wholeheartedly, into her version of Crazy Train.
She can also drive the Wii better than most of our guests now, too.
Mike says we're raising them right.
At the second party, a smaller group and mostly different people, Thomas fell in love. You can hardly blame him. Olivia is tall and slender and blonde with a lilting Irish accent and, need I say, drop dead gorgeous. Even in Dubai she stands out. She is also a truly lovely person.
He went to her and charmed her into picking him up, touched her face gently and sang to her, in the sweetest voice "You are my Wiv-ia, my only Wiv-ia, you make me happy, when skies are grey...."
Oh, he's good.
Thomas serenading his Wivia.
I think it's a summer romance, so I'm not too worried.