Lesson in Delayed Gratification

I bought a zoo!

My boys have been busily playing something called Tiny Village on their iPhones (which are our old iPhone 3 devices without the phone capability). As far as I can tell, Tiny Village is something along the lines of a Flintstones version of Farmville. The boys have quarries, are fabricating tools, and keeping dinosaurs as pets. I figured that at best it was a lesson in delayed gratification supplemented with a small course in urban planning and development. At worst, it was a total waste of time. Still, they’re young boys and it’s better to have them building a village than blowing up things in a violent video game, right?

This morning Joe came into my room early and told me that the Tiny Village app told him to download something called Tiny Zoo Friends. Ummm…yeah. Seriously, dude? Your phone made you do it? I can see where society is headed. Anyway, when they asked for the zoo app, I  hesitated for a moment; and then I decided that the zoo sounded infinitely more fun than the prehistoric village, so I acquiesced and downloaded the free app for them.

And, then, I made my biggest mistake since Angry Birds. I downloaded the Tiny Zoo Friends to my iPhone too, reasoning that it would be good to learn what it was all about so I could share in the experience with my boys. I dropped them at school and headed home to figure it out. I started by purchasing the recommended jack rabbits. I bought a male and female and then, knowing what rabbits are wont to do, I made sure they instantly had two jack rabbit children. From there, I bought a set of black bears and gave them some offspring, and then I rounded out my creature collection with a family of my favorite, African elephants.

An hour later I began to figure out how it all worked. My creatures earned points, which I could then cash in to buy more items for my zoo. I purchased an ice cream stand, a popcorn cart, some play equipment for the kids, a set of butterflies, and some musk oxen. Before I knew it, I had run out of room in my zoo and needed to spend some coin for zoo expansion. Then I discovered that my zoo expansion would take four hours. Four hours? I can’t wait four hours. My spectacled bears need a habitat! I immediately looked into purchasing the fake coins necessary to expand my zoo instantly. It would cost me $4.99. I stopped. I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that I had hoped this game would teach my boys about delayed gratification. How could I be lecturing my boys about waiting when I nearly spent the monetary equivalent of a Starbuck’s triple venti vanilla latte on an imaginary zoo? Ugh.

I decided the best course of action would be to put the game down and just walk away. So, I did. For about three minutes. Then I was back at it. I ignored the time left on the zoo expansion and focused on rearranging my zoo to make it a nice environment. I picked up trash, I created an African animal section, and I moved the trees to increase the aesthetics. I checked the clock again. Crap. I still had nearly two hours until my zoo would expand. I needed to get away from this stupid game. I grabbed my yoga mat and went to class. An hour later, I returned to my car, refreshed and relaxed and freed of this wretched distraction on my phone, right? Wrong. The minute I started the car, I plugged my phone in and checked to see if the expansion was complete. Oh holy hell. I’m going to need a 12-step program. 

I wasted approximately four full hours of my life today on this game. I’ve spent most of my evening trying to justify this debacle. I think I finally found a way. I’m going to chalk it up to a learning experience. I’ve learned that it’s one thing to preach the virtue of delayed gratification, but it’s another thing entirely to try to live it.

 

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