I have a shameful secret.
It's time for me to come clean.
~To set the stage~
My son is a gamer.
His game of choice is Call of Duty and I guess his current specialty is Black Ops II .
It's a first-person shooter game.
He LOVES it!!
He is wildly passionate about it.
He would put Rain Man to shame with his recitation of stats and facts about all the different guns involved and available in the game.
It is unbelievable.
This game, and the countless others like it, go against pretty much everything the ol Erstwhile Husband and I have tried to instill into his sweet wonderful little brain over the years.
Peace. Love. Reading. Disney movies.
Now THOSE are things that were more up our alley.
Not blood and guts and killing and guns and killer guard dogs.
When they were little, we limited the kids' daily television viewing/computer use time to half an hour. We monitored the shows they watched and computer sites they visited. The Gameboy The Boy received for Christmas when he was 7 was accompanied by a note from Santa that laid out some pretty strict ground rules for any and all Gameboy usage. If these rules were breached, the Gameboy would be taken away.
We were right on top of things (if we did say so ourselves).
That was then.
Now his big dilemma is whether or not to "invest" in Grand Theft Auto IV... stealing cars and hookers.
If all that wasn't bad enough, what makes it even worse is the fact that he plays all the time.
Here's the shameful secret variable of the "my son is a gamer" equation...
I let him do it.
In fact, I try to be supportive of his passion...he doubts my sincerity (he's a clever boy) but I try to take an interest in his interest.
I actually even handle the transactions in which games rated Mature are purchased. You see, the stores can't sell games to kids under 17...rather... they cannot take money directly from the hand of a kid who is under 17. They're totally cool if that under 17 kid is standing beside his over 17 Mum whilst she grits her teeth and hands over her child's hard-earned birthday and Christmas money in exchange for a violent game that she wishes her under 17 kid wouldn't play.
For Christmas last year, we gave him a fancy schmancy headset that allows him to listen to the game in kickass stereo sound as well as talk to the dudes he's playing with online.
This past weekend, he made Master Prestige in Black Ops II ...which I gather is rather impressive.
He was at his Dad's when this mighty achievement was achieved and he posted about it on Facebook.
As any good Mum would, I immediately "Liked" his status update and commented "Nice Work!!"...and then I sent him a congratulatory text that read,
"Hey JJ!! Congrats on getting your Master Prestige!! All your hard work paid off :D"
To which he replied,
Ok...now the congratulatory text might've been a bit much and he obviously could see right through it...
But, you know what??
I actually meant it.
He worked hard for months and he accomplished what he set out to do...and even though it's just a game...he worked hard and it's something that's important to him.
I do struggle A WHOLE BIG BUNCH with how much time he spends gaming and I try to justify it by noting that the act of gaming DOES involve tons of problem-solving and team work and it DOES strengthen his hand-eye coordination and he IS interacting with his buddies and his step-brother through Xbox Live so when he's holed up in his room, he's "virtually" surrounded by his good friends and he's not by himself just playing with faceless strangers.
He loves it and it's been difficult to get him passionate about much over the course of his teenage life ... so I don't want to undermine this passion. As much as I wish with all my heart that he was passionate about something that didn't involve sitting in his room for hours on end playing violent video games, I don't want to discourage this rarely displayed enthusiasm.
A few years ago, I stopped telling him that I didn't want to hear all the intricate details about his games ( even though I find them horrible and slightly tedious...sorry JJ) because, the way I see it, regardless of conversational content, he's talking to me.
And that's awesome!!
I figure that if I don't listen/pay attention when he talks to me about the simple small stuff he likes, he sure as hell won't talk to me when the big important stuff comes up.
I don't want him to think that what's important to him (however tedious and unimportant it might be to me,...sorry JJ) isn't worthwhile or interesting.
That's not a nice feeling.
I also figure that he's not smoking weed at school or partying and getting hammered every weekend (or ever, really).
He isn't manipulating girls and breaking hearts.
He's not surfing countless porn sites (unless HE'S the one racking up the scaredy squirrel porn pageviews...bastard!!)
He is doing well in school.
He is kind.
He is a nice respectful 14 year old boy.
So he's got that going for him...which is nice.
He's a good kid and he likes his family... I'm not sure how common that is amongst teenage boys.
~A Quick Illustration of The Boy's Character: Last year, I was super excited when the Disney movie "Brave" came out...I adore Disney movies and announced that we were having a Family Movie Night and the 4 of us headed out to the theater and watched this fun and beautiful movie. On the drive home, we were discussing the merits of the film and giving our "Out of 10" ratings and The Boy said that it was "ok" and I said "hmmph" and gave him 10/10 for lack of enthusiasm and thought nothing of it until a week or so later when it dawned on me that I made my 14 year old son go to the theater to see a Disney Princess Movie...in public...with his Mum...and he didn't raise one single word of protest....*sigh* I love My Boy.~
We are unbelievably lucky.
So if he's spending his time gaming instead of doing any of the less pleasant activities mentioned above, I guess I've gotta be satisfied and happy that he's a good kid... who likes to game.
p.s. There's actually a punch line to this story...the other day, he came out of his room/gaming den with a bit of a lopsided grin on his face and tells me that he's been suspended from Xbox Live (the online gaming community) for 48 hours because he used the word "shit" in his Bio.
He had described himself as "A gamer and a longboarder who also does some other shit."
And apparently they took offence.
Which both cracks me up and impresses me a little bit.
It cracks me up that "they" provide a virtual arena where gamers from around the globe unite and proceed to gun each other down by the thousands BUT they draw the line at a kid using the word shit in his Bio.
However, it impresses me that "they" actually do some sort of monitoring of content and are willing to take "appropriate" (??) disciplinary action when the need arises.
I thought it was kinda funny.
I'll have to advise The Boy to clean up his potty mouth.
It's unbecoming ;)