There have been times, as a parent, where I’ve thought that I have had everything figured out. Moments where I mistakenly concluded that I had mastered the art of parenting. Looking back on old photos, I realize now that I knew nothing. The older Wyatt grows, the more I feel unequipped as a dad. Each day presenting a new challenge, a new set of decisions on how best to guide my child.
Parenting an almost 9 year old, I have been learning about freedom and letting go. Making what feel like hard decisions in the moment, like sending him to summer camp for a week by himself. Emotion versus logic battle it out:
Emotion: He is too young to be gone for a week by himself. What if he gets scared or wants to come home?
Logic: We can always go pick him up if need be. He’ll be in a safe place. Our Children’s Director, who is amazing, is going to camp/loves the camp they are attending.
The instant gut reaction of “lets wait until next year” gives way to questions of why. Tab and I are learning to push through these gut reactions, compare them against non-emotional truths, and then ask Wyatt what he thinks. Giving him voice and a choice in the decision at hand has helped us both make a final decision. Big decisions, such as “let’s try this!”
Parenting is not easy. But I’m thankful for the grace that is given to parents which allows us to grow up alongside our children. Grace that allows me to admit that I do not know everything about parenting, but I know a little.
JohnnyBGamer.com has been quiet for awhile now. One of those times where I feel like I have nothing to say and a lot to say at the same time. Instead of sitting down and writing though, I’ve taken the easy route and not written at all. That all changed after reading a GameChurch article by Andy Robertson titled, “Don’t Do Video Games in Church, Do Church in Video Games“.
Games aren’t worthwhile because they educate, inform, develop skills or solve problems. They are valuable because they are games.
Andy helped me realize just where I am with video games. I’m not sure if it is my age or what, but I no longer feel the need to seek validation for the hobby nor advocate for it becoming something more, specifically in the church-space. I don’t care if video games are viewed as art or if fellow Christians think the pastime is evil. I think it’s great that Andy is championing for a deeper discussion on gaming, but that is no longer me. I play what I like, when I like, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.
I no longer identify as a gamer, at all. I am a husband, father, and friend who happens to think video games are pretty neat. At this point in my life, I might play a game a few hours a week. Gone are my multiple day/hours long gaming sessions where that is all I would do in the evening–and ignore my wife in the process–. I am not that guy anymore.
Who I am now is:
A dad who is concerned over how much Zelda: Breath of the Wild has taken ahold of my kid.
Someone who is trying to figure out what gaming looks like in my household with the Nintendo Switch. I go back and forth over how much I love the system and how much I hate it. The singleplayer games seem to dominate game time in our house. I miss the more co-op atmosphere but also realize that my son is growing up and wanting to play things by himself (and talk about those experiences).
Part of me feels old and part of me feels free when it comes to video games. The part of me that feels old is the part that feels like my parents. My wife and I trying to figure out how much is too much and how to curate/guide my son’s gameplay. The part of me that feels free is the part that no longer feels like I have something to prove. I enjoy playing games when I get the chance. No matter the difficulty setting I play on; no matter how long I end up playing per week. Video games are still cool but they do not hold the place that they once did in my life.
I went to bed depressed after recording this episode. Jonathan Clauson, someone I’ve internet-known for quite sometime, joined me on The Long Hall. He got talking about how his son doesn’t think he is cool anymore… how their relationship has changed over time. Our conversation continued from there… but that is what got to me. Could there come a day where Wyatt doesn’t see me as anything less than awesome? The thought of that… bummed me out.
But don’t let that bum you out. Check out this episode and let me know what you think in the comments below OR even better yet, via an iTunes review.
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.
Jimmy Barclay was going through changes. Or as Mr. Whittaker put it, he was going through “adolescence”. Jimmy was growing up. He noticed that:
His voice was changing
He was angry at people for no reason at all
He was in love, with Connie Kendall
So flat. So boring. Captive audience on an 8 hour drive.
As we listened to “Coming of Age”, an episode of Adventures in Odyssey, Tabitha and I laughed. There is something surreal about listening to an episode on puberty with your seven-year-old in the car. We were driving home from vacation. The boy was in the backseat, running a high fever, and had no clue about what was plaguing Jimmy.
I told Tabitha that when Wyatt starts to go through puberty, I am going to make him listen to this episode. Odyssey can explain everything. Poof! An awkward conversation bites the dust. Who wants to talk to their parents about changes anyways?
Let this be a lesson to all parents: Media is a fantastic substitute for all major life conversations.
This important lesson is provided to you by JohnnyBGamer, tongue-in-cheek.