Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Lost my Son to DSi

I still have my older son, he plays now and then, but my middle son is obsessed. He was 5 when his 7 year old brother got a Dsi (like a Gameboy) from his grandparents. He watched with an intensity as his brother played, he was stuck... like gum on the underside of the fast food table. He stared and tracked every move made with the eye of a sharpshooter. When he got his own Dsi at 6 it was like God descended upon earth and gave him his calling.

We knew it was coming...the world of video games. I was adamantly opposed at first, so rigid, I was right and video games were wrong. My husband had even purged the house of his video games, knowing that if they were within reach they would be of influence to our boys...and to him.
Yes, we place limits on the type of game, amount of time and they have to trade off game time for TV, so they really don't play much...it's just the obsession that I grapple with.They suck you in,those games...hours can go by if we aren't vigilant, and nothing is accomplished, no connection, no real skill, no result of value that can be competed and acknowledged within a social arena that we relate to...no trophy that can be displayed...
In short, video games, Dsi's, Gameboys, etc...hand held zombie inducing boxes of vile brainwashing, just numb the personality and creativity.
That's one point of view, anyway.

Tonight I took a walk with two of my three boys after dinner. The other stayed home to finish homework with Dad. Bodee my 6 year old and Bronson my 3 year old walked around the block with me twice. Bronson ran ahead of us, pointing out the perils ahead, the Halloween decorations that glowed and lurked on either side of us.
Bodee however was in a talkative mode. I don't remember if I asked him about his day or what he learned, but he was suddenly explaining the process of defeating the Big Bosses in his Pokeman game on his Dsi. With great detail, he told me about the powers of Ember and Pikichu and many more. He lit up when I asked for more. We seriously agreed on our protest regarding the fact that if you defeated a Big Boss you didn't become a Big Boss. He looked me in the eye earnestly when he explained what he was doing to get to the next Boss, not level, and defeat him. He described the Pokeman that he invented himself, Eggy, and his dinosaur powers, with with pride and passion.He was an expert. His confidence impressed me immensely.
Then I realized.

We live in Orange County. There is no wood to cut or stack, cow to feed and grow or ditch to dig...no country chore after school which has my son feel accomplished. There is no money to receive in his sweaty palm after a morning newspaper run. There is no farm to plant or harvest, no tractor to fix or corn to sell. There is no boxing match bet or lemonade stand that could reap enough reward to turn his head from the modern day possibilities in gaming. In my father's day, all those other things could have occupied him, and similar things did. He occasionally listened to the radio and went to the 25 cent matinee movie...but besides that, earning money to help support his family, picking and selling blueberries, working whenever and wherever he could, no matter where...all made a real difference for his family.

Our boys want to make a difference. Be someone. Do something. Now. Not someday after high school or college. Now.

In temperate Orange County suburbia, we don't have the opportunity for that besides an occasional chore of trash, dishes or sweeping. We are so crammed into our cul de sacs and perfectly trimmed associations that hire only fifty-ish year old immigrants with leather like skin from Mexico that can out mow a preteen in seconds flat, that there is no room for working the land.
Our boys play video games because they get to feel accomplished. They get to win. They get to feel like a hero.

I want that for my son. I want him to build his muscle of feeling like a hero until that just is the way it is for him. Who he is to the world, and to himself, is someone who is accomplished, victorious, and masterful.

I will keep looking for other places in which we can balance out his access to success. Cub Scouts, a new sport, science experiments after school,hikes and adventures, all create a multi faceted and multi talented boy.

In the meantime, because it matters to him, I will look into his deep brown eyes filled with excitement, importance and confidence, and ask him again to describe the details of his Pokeman world. As he shares with me like a best friend would in the quiet of a treehouse, I get that, in those moments between us of curiosity and self expression, I have my son back.

Zen Honeycutt

No comments:

Post a Comment