Every time we go to a school event, I’m struck by parents glued to their phones.
The other day, I watched a parent sitting in front of me flip through their cell phone’s menu screen. Aimlessly. No doubt with a delightful internal monologue:
“Which app do I choose? I haven’t played Clash Royale in ages. Ah, don’t make eye contact! They might want to talk!!”
The introvert side of me gets it. The phone provides a safety blanket against scary “stranger” conversations. As a parent, as a dad, I wonder what the kids see though. Do they see parents:
Distracted/not present in the moment?
Displaying the same electronic habits at home?
The screen is so magical!
I know that being in a crowd of people we don’t know can be intimidating. I know that it is easier to escape into a phone, look important, and ignore those around us. But at what cost does our escape come at? What are we modeling for our children when we can’t even put down our phones for a moment?
I’m not trying to sound judgmental nor make others feel guilty. I’ve used my phone to ignore people many times. The thing is, I want my son to know that he is important. That I can be present in the moment. No matter how hard or uncomfortable that might be.
Over the weekend, Wyatt and I played Minecraft for a couple of hours. Straight. I’ve never really understood the game. Sure, I get that it is virtual LEGOS. You can dig caves, build forts, the imagination is the limit. But I didn’t understand Minecraft until I played it co-op with my son.
We started our play session separated from one another. I worked on a castle; Wyatt worked on a village/farm. Eventually we figured out that the game has an in-game map. We found each other!
Wyatt begged me to come see his village. So I did. But my castle called to me, come finish me! So I left. Wyatt followed. My castle soon became a joint creation, our castle. Glowing pumpkins, emerald blocks, materials I would never choose, the boy placed with relish.
Playing the game cooperatively, split-screen, allowed us to create our own in-game narrative. Our creations telling the story of a seven-year-old and a thirty-five-year-old living in a block-filled land.
We have built great things together. Cooperatively, through the magic of Minecraft.
I finally understand.
Wyatt (top screen); Me (bottom screen). Built a tower of light.
Wyatt (top screen); Me (bottom screen). Built an epic sky road that spans to a distant mountain.
And yet even in Christian circles there is little attention given to the relationship of boys and their mothers, at least once they pass the toddler stage. It is rarely mentioned and rarely celebrated. We still look askance at a boy who spends a lot of time with his mom or a mom who is close to her boy. There is still that suspicion—that irrational and unfair suspicion. There is still that fear that a boy necessarily ought to be closer to his father than his mother.
I am thankful for the relationship Tabitha has with Wyatt. She balances out my rougher parenting edges with a tenderness I find hard to provide.
Odd that Challies references James Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys. Dobson’s chapter aimed at moms is brief and lacking any substance. Tabitha and I were terribly disappointed in it.
I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:
OR Pokémon Y
Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.
Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!
As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.
This year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:
Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.
Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?
I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.
Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.
Best part of our day was in the backyard. Wyatt wanted to go outside and play Transformers. So we each picked a weapon. I grabbed a foam sword, he grabbed a Nerf gun. Somehow we never got around to playing. Wyatt was too concerned with making up rules, structure, to our play. I got bored. So I grabbed his gun and took off. There were tears over my dual wielding weapons.
Scary Close – Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy
I first discovered Donald Miller in college. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure about my Christian faith anymore. There was a disconnect between the Christians I read about in the Bible and the Christians I met everyday. Tired of the hypocrisy, I found honesty in Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Someone was finally writing from a perspective that felt authentic. God used Miller’s words to remind me of the freedom we have in Christ; He used Donald Miller to bring me back to Him.
Surface level relationships will never go beyond the surface. Diving equipment, time invested in person, allows us to get to know one another better. Being purposeful in our pursuit, this is key. We have to make time to have time to spend with others; We have to get over ourselves, move beyond technology.
An invitation to go for a walk, time set aside to enjoy nature and listen. Spending the lunch hour eating with a friend. Time invested. Physical time. We need more of this. We need to do this.
I walked into his room to find him yelling and looking around for something on his pillow. His eyes darting about, as if tormented by unseen things. I asked him for five dollars. Nothing. If he had been awake, that would have brought a quick response. He continued moan-yelling, speaking in an asleep language.
I crawled into bed with him. Rubbed his back. Told him to go to sleep. We laid there for awhile. His eyes darting, refusing to stop their dance. I told him it was okay. Everything was okay.
Growing up, my sister suffered from epilepsy. I have seen things that I wish I could un-see. Prayed desperate prayers to God to take away her seizures. Which he did. But I can’t shake the images of her eyes darting about. Her seizures remind me of my son’s night terrors. Two completely different things, I know. Both haunting.
After awhile the heater kicked on. Wyatt finally calmed down. I left him and got back in bed. My mind awake.
Parenting is hard. I often feel as if I am failing as a dad. And then I have a moment where my son needs me.
I just want to be a good dad. A dad who has an actual relationship with his son. I try to move beyond what was modeled for me. Overcoming the past by active engagement.
The night terrors will one day cease. Wyatt will grow older, mature, and one day move out. I hope that the foundation I am building in our relationship is enough. I don’t want him to realize, as an adult, that he and I have nothing to say. Life is too short and precious for that.