Appreciated this piece from Tim Challies. Especially liked his list of principles, he has been pondering, towards the end of the article.
As parents in this digital world, it’s like we have planted ourselves and our families on a beach. Though the water is rising, we have convinced ourselves that we can somehow hold back the tide. But inevitably it just keeps creeping higher and higher up the beach until our best plans, like feeble little sandcastles, are swept away. There seems to be a kind of inevitability about it, that before long we’ll all always be staring at our devices. In fact, it seems like our devices have wills of their own, and this is exactly what they want. They want to dominate our lives. They want to be our main thing.
I appreciate this post by Tim Challies on friendship. There is nothing like a friend who can tell you to snap out of it and quit being a jerk.
Often the best way to gain objectivity is to appeal to a friend for an outside perspective. It may be that each of us appeals to a personal friend or that together we appeal to a mutual friend. But either way, a close friend is able to listen, to evaluate, and to offer guidance. Some of the best counsel I’ve gotten from friends is of the “you need to stop being a jerk” variety. Friends have helped me better love those I love most.
Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:
“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:
The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
A non-stop gameplay loop.
An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.
I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”
I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.
There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:
That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.
Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.
I am a boy dad. I thank the Lord for the gift he has given me in my son, Wyatt. The gift that sees that a boys energy and curiosity is normal; The gift that allows me to say that yes, boys are different than girls.
Two years into our marriage, Tabitha and I were driving up Palomar Mountain. I wanted to show her where my Grandpa Ayers used to take my brother and I camping. As we wound our way up the mountain, Tabitha started to feel sick. I wrote it off as car sickness at the time. Elevation + switchback roads = car sickness for some. What I didn’t know, is that on that trip to visit my parents in Southern California, Tabitha was pregnant. I was going to be a dad.
Parenting Wyatt has forced me to wrestle with many things in my life.
My upbringing of growing up in a home where my dad was home 2 days and then gone 2-3 days. I just wanted him home. I wanted his presence. I wanted him without the zombie schedule truck driving demanded.
I am thankful that God brought other men into my life to fill this need. Men like my Grandpa Ayers. He stepped in, for my brother and I, and showed us what it meant to be men. Whether he was reading us Bible stories or telling tales around the campfire; Whether we were hiking with slingshots, flying RC planes, or playing Chess. Grandpa was that escape, for us, from the feminine world of my mom.
I realize now that both my parents did their best… and I’m thankful for the time I had with my Grandpa.
Who I Am As A Husband
There are many stories that I could write here. But the clearest one that comes to mind is of me sitting on the couch, watching TV, while Tabitha is getting herself and Wyatt out the door for the day. Tab was teaching at the time. Wyatt would spend his days with my mother-in-law. I didn’t do a thing, as I watched The Today Show, to help Tab out the door. We were supposed to be a team, and I was failing.
God knew what I needed. Looking back, I am thankful for us having issues with breast feeding. Thankful for the formula, which I once thought was expensive, that allowed me to take on late night feedings. I miss those times of bleary-eyed snuggling. Him watching me, with those blue eyes, in the darkened living room.
Being a dad has forced me to find maturity as a husband. Praise God.
Who I Want To Be As A Dad
At the end of the day, I want to be a dad who:
Listens – I wanted to be able to talk about whatever Wyatt is into, even if that means talking about Pokémon like a scholar.
Plays – Having a family game night, playing through a video game co-op, I want to play with my son.
Reads – Whether reading the Bible or work of fiction, I want my son to hear my voice/see that men read aloud. I miss hearing my Grandpa Ayers read Bible stories.
Prepares – I want to have those difficult conversations. I want to be a dad who talks about puberty, sex, and dating.
Wyatt and I took a trip to our local game store, Three Suns Unlimited, this past weekend. I have been meaning to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game for awhile now. I figured Pokémon would be a great entry level collectible card game for us to learn. After asking the ultimate parent question in this scenario:
“What do I need to play this game?”
The knowledgeable store staff directed us to a Pokémon Sun & Moon Trainer Kit. Priced at $10, the Trainer Kit comes with everything you need to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). The kit includes:
A full 60-card deck that you split into two to play two player
Playmat (with rules on it)
Damage Counters (cardboard tokens)
A Game Coin to flip to determine who goes first
And 2 Rule Books to teach you how to play your first game step-by-step
Once home, we pulled out the instructions and got to playing. I was impressed at how easy the game is to learn. We ended up battling our Pokémon against each other in more than a few matches over the weekend.
Side Note: I was amused that one of the game’s rules is having to shake hands with your opponent prior to playing. This brought about a great opportunity to teach Wyatt about how men shake hands. Not too soft. Not too hard. Firm and determined.
As a real man, I can admit that I got my butt kicked multiple times this weekend by a growing boy and his Pokémon. I am pleased that $10 provided the entertainment it did while allowing me to connect with Wyatt more. We’ll continue to play, refine our skills, and figure out the luck of the draw nature of the game. Who knows, maybe we’ll be ready to battle Team Rocket in the future… if we ever meet them.