BOY DAD

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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.

Photo by Yuval Levy on Unsplash

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 Past

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.

Photo by Enea Rezhda on Unsplash

I am a boy dad. I am thankful for my son.

However, I’d be happy being a girl dad too. 🙂

The End of a Father / Son Tradition – Pokémon Sword and Shield

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The release of Pokémon Sword & Shield today, on the Nintendo Switch, marks an end of an era for my son Wyatt and I.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

We first started playing Pokémon games together with the release of Pokémon X & Y–he had to have been in kindergarten, although I’m thinking more first grade.–. Armed with our 3DS systems, we’d encourage and compete against each other while playing through our separate games. Spending evenings battling each other to see who had the strongest Pokémon. I’d like to say that I won most of those matches, but I’d be lying. Wyatt is one tough Pokémon Trainer to beat.

I’ve been playing the Pokémon games since the original Pokémon Red & Blue debuted in the United States in 1998–crazy to think that I’ve been playing the same series for over two decades!–. I have owned and put time into:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Diamond
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • Pokémon Black
  • Pokémon Y
  • Pokémon Moon

Across all of those hours spent catching Pokémon, I somehow never managed to complete a single game. Playing with Wyatt gave me the competitive edge I needed to push through. Pokémon Y was my first Pokémon game to see through to the credits. I thank my son for the accomplishment of FINALLY finishing a Pokémon game. All I wanted to do was crush a little boy’s dreams by finishing the game first, typical dad stuff, right? (Wyatt won, btw.)

We moved on and battled through Pokémon Sun & Moon. At some point, hours upon hours into the game, I gave up. Wyatt went ahead and finished the game. He then completed the follow up, Pokémon Ultra Sun, by himself. We still battled in the evenings. Nothing like Pokémon fighting between a father and son.

Pokémon Sun & Moon

With the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield, Nintendo has shifted the main series from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch. In our house, we have a single Nintendo Switch console. I think that it is silly to buy another system just for the privilege of being able to play a Pokémon game. I will miss the memories and competition between Wyatt, our Pokémon, and I. Never forgetting the lesson that:

Kids have a ton of more time to play video games than a working adult. Never compete against a kid when time is required, Bryan, you’ll lose!

Coming to the end here, I am reminded of how long I’ve been playing video games with Wyatt. How I only have 8 years left with him until he graduates from high school… I hope we continue to play games together in some fashion; I can’t wait to show and introduce him to more.

On My Radar – Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Trailer

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I know a kid who is dying to get his hands on this game… but has to settle for Let’s Go, Pikachu in the meantime.

Time Well Spent: What I Loved About January

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Taking a cue from The Nerd Theist, who asked in his blog post today:

What did you LOVE about January?

I loved spending some alone time, last weekend, with my wife. We sent the boy to grandma’s house and booked a hotel room/celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. Had a great time:

  • Watching The Greatest Showman
  • Playing King Domino (I won!) and Carcassone ( I lost…)
  • Trying to figure out which Fast and the Furious movie was on TV (seriously, these movies blend at some point, but Tabitha and I love watching them together)
  • Doing absolutely nothing but simply being together

Our time away reminded me of our need, as a couple, for time just for the two of us. Time where we can celebrate being a couple.

Started playing Final Fantasy VI on the SNES Classic with Wyatt this past month. I have loved finding a new game that both of us can enjoy together–the game supports two players, who knew!–. His hot take on Final Fantasy VI:

This is just like Pokémon!

Lesson Learned: If you want to eventually play classic Japanese role playing games with your kids, start them out on Pokémon. 

What did you LOVE about January?

Yonder

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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles opens with mystery. After years of being away from your island home, you are returning. Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, are all non-issues. As you sail near the island, your boat is struck by lightning. And then, a spirit named Aaerie appears…

“WHAT IS THAT!? That’s scary.” – Wyatt, age 8

You are then tasked with removing the Murk, the bad stuff, that has infected the land.

Cast onto the rocks of the island of Gemea, you wake up wet and cold. You venture forward, knowing you must head yonder.

Yonder excels at encouraging the player to keep moving forward. See that mountain over there? Let’s go explore it! The core exploration is fantastic, as the world feels alive and begging for adventure. Wyatt and I found ourselves tromping all over the place. Minutes would span into hours. And in a first for us, Yonder caused us to fight over who was playing. An achievement for developer Prideful Sloth.

We love running around and exploring. But we dislike the Pokémon collecting, lite farm simulator, and generic MMO quest system.

Nothing like Pokémon Collecting

To defeat the Murk, you, the player, need to collect Sprites. Think Pokémon-like creatures who enjoy playing hide-n-seek. Some Sprites are captured by simply finding them. Tag. You’re it! Other Sprites require small quests of appeasement, a “I’ll join your quest if you give me 5 wood”, sort of thing. The Sprites are cute. However, they do not add special powers or unique interactions to the game. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. As they exist, Sprites are content gatekeepers. Want to destroy the Murk in this area? Sorry, you need to collect 5 more Sprites.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Early in the game, you come across a farm with broken fences. You are immediately tasked with bringing the old place back to life. Once done, you discover that this is no farm but a ranch. A place to hold animals, who poop, a lot. Yonder allows the building of various animal pens by collecting materials. That’s about it. While I wasn’t expecting a Stardew Valley experience, Yonder left me wanting more.

The Compass is Broken

As Aaerie tasks you with clearing up the Murk, she gives you a Celestial Compass to give you your bearings. The compass shoots a beam of light to the quest giver for whichever quest you are on. The big problem, for Wyatt and I, is that the compass only points at the original quest giver. The compass does not update location based on where the player is in the quest. As it stands, the compass is a broken tool we’d love to see fixed.

Which leads me to talk about the quest system. The quest system comes across as padding or filler. There is nothing meaningful in having to collect x-amount of wood for an individual. Modern quest design has pushed past the “kill ten rats” mindset. Yonder tries to wrap this generic design around meaningful stories. For example, the one quest that sticks out to me is one where we helped a lady grow a beard. This required us to go to a specific pond at night. Collect a certain type of fish (Side Note: The fishing mechanic is spot on). Prepare the correct concoction, etc. A silly but unique quest. I wish more of the game’s quests were as memorable.

Wyatt’s Thoughts:

The Good

  • I like running around and exploring.
  • I like being friends with the animals.
  • It feels like playing a Link game with no monsters or weapons.

The Bad

  • The day and night cycle is too fast (but I think that’s their point).
  • I don’t understand the story or what is going on.

Bottom Line:

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles failed to grab Wyatt and I. This is not to say that the game is bad. Yonder is a good game that is perfect for playing with children in the room. For us though, we needed a reason to keep coming back. Depth to either the farming system or to collecting Sprites would have done this. If you are looking for a game to play with your family that encourages exploration, Yonder is the game for you. Prepare for many hours of walking, map reading, and feeding all the animals. As your in-game pockets fill with items collected, perhaps Yonder will grab you more than it did Wyatt and I.

wavesplinter2/5 – A beautiful game that lacks purpose.

Wave SplinterTitle: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviews on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $19.99

*Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was reviewed using a code provided by developer Prideful Sloth.

Pokémon aren’t free

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Woke up the boy this morning.

 

“Hey Bulblasaur, it’s time to get up.”

“Venusaur, I choose yo….”

“No. That is not how this works.”

“What?”

“You’re a Pokémon, you can’t summon other Pokémon. You have to do what I say. You have to fight when I say.”

>Insert random combat move yelled by child here<

“Oh look, you are back in your Pokéball. It’s time for breakfast. Get up.”

>this went on a bit more<

Got me thinking about how Pokémon are slaves to their Trainer’s whims. With no free will to make their own way in the world. That is as deep as I get for this Tuesday. Go forth and catch’em all!