The Gaming Parent
There is, if theatrical cartoons are to be taken as a pillar of modern philosophical thought, a circle of life. The more I think about it, the more fatalistically hopeless this revelation seems to me. Locked onto inevitable ideas of predestination and futility a circle to life not only suggests that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of those who came before, but also implies that we are creatures locked onto a mortal coil of fate. I'm not sure why we're celebrating this in kids films – "˜Listen, Billy, you should pack your dreams in a little box and bury them in the attic, because you're going to end up chugging Malox and wearing a suit that stinks of gin and desperation, wallowing in a dead-end middle management job while you count the seconds til your death – but at least they put it to a cheerful sounding song.Despite its depressing implications, the circle of life does give people like me license to talk in generalizations by extrapolating personal experience onto a community at large. That means I can deliver advice with no professional experience – like bartending or taxi driving – and be pretty certain that others will share my perspective. And so this article is something of a warning sign for our latest gaming dad, Griffon who is celebrating the birth of his newborn automated feces maker.
What is most difficult about being a new parent is that the things you think you know about parenting before having a child and the things you know as soon as four months after are the difference between knowing how to drive a car and knowing how to pilot an alien starfighter from the future.
Now that I've wasted two paragraphs endowing myself with authority based on false pretenses, ultimately resorting to a weak comedic turn, I can get on with the discussion, which, as you've undoubtedly already realized, is about gaming with children. It may come as some surprise to those of you without children, but having smaller less capable versions of yourself in the house actually changes your life in several significant ways, not the least of which is that you have a lot less time to spend indulging your recreational appetites. Babies, in particular, are not known for their self-reliance. You will find the only thing they can capably do on their own is eject disgusting fluids from a variety of orifices, and make noises the would raise the dead and send them packing to Guadalajara (widely known as the home of the vacationing damned.). This proves troublesome if you're engaged in an online match of Counter-Strike or halfway through a Live race in Project Gotham Racing 2.
So here are some tips for our newest dad. These aren't really recommendations, because as you will quickly discover anything you can actually do is utterly fruitless in altering your child's behavior. These are more some facts that you're just better off knowing from the start. By no means is it a comprehensive list, but these are certainly the top five.
Babies Can Not Be Reasoned With. This does not mean you won't vainly try for hours to try and explain the situation and its relative normalcy to a crying infant. Babies are not so much like reasonable humans as they are a light switch attached to a car horn. They really have two setting, off and loud, and you might just as well explain to a deaf Irish Setter how there's really no need to be barking as try and calm a crying baby with rational explanations. This is a double problem if you're a gamer, because babies also do not believe you when you say you only have half a lap left. Nor do they care. Which brings us to dictum number 2.
Babies Are Completely Selfish. If you were wounded and unconscious on the floor, your baby would not be crying from concern for your well being, but rather because things were unusually quiet and they felt a bit peckish. Considering how disinterested they are in this dire a circumstance, imagine the mind-blowing indifference with which they'd treat your desire to finish watching a Final Fantasy cutscene. Combined with their complete rejection of smartly worded reasoning, you begin to get an idea of what an uncertain experience gaming can be when you're a new parent. But even in the best of circumstances "…
As A Parent You Have Tripled Your Capacity for Guilt. Let's assume that you've put the baby in the bouncy seat and he is happily shaking his rattle, kicking his legs, and making sounds that are presumably not some form of fury. Even in these happy and unusual circumstances, should you decide to try and sneak in ten minutes of Madden, you'll suddenly feel like the worst parent in the world. It is in these moments that you recall all the bazillion things you promised to do as a parent and just haven't done yet. Despite the fact that you've already read the same book to him five times so far, you'll be absolutely convinced that these minutes you spent playing Madden will be the reason your kid turns into an illiterate psychopath. You can suddenly imagine the psychologist's horror when your child explains that dad took once played Halo in front of him as an infant. Should you ignore this permeating guilt, there is yet another pitfall for the gaming father.
Your Baby Has a Sense of Humor. I learned my son had a sense of humor early on. I was standing with my wife fawning over him, which is something you'll spend a startling amount of time doing, and I said, "there's nothing I don't love about him." Actually, I was in the process of saying this when my son made a sound from his lower half like a passing truck driving through mud. If anyone wonders why bathroom humor is so popular, it's because it's the first form of humor we have. My son also saves all his urine for when he is being changed, that way he can spray it on our clothes, himself, the wall, the cat, and occasionally the ceiling. I'd think this an unfortunate coincidence if not for his complete look of satisfaction.
So, with that in mind, know beyond a shadow of doubt that your child will wait until the most inopportune moments of gaming to make his displeasures known. Playing Madden during a crucial fourth down play as you drive Ahman Green toward the closing gap, your son will suddenly expel a violent shout. As a father or mother you are incapable of ignoring this, and must check to make sure the baby isn't being attacked by a rabid emu. Of course, this means your fourth down conversion is a statistical impossibility without a single emu in sight.
But the most important and surprising of all these dictums is"…
It's All Worth It. To cut the inevitably sappy sentiment I'm inclined to put forward, I'll try to keep this short. The most surprising thing about the reaction you have to your kid is that in almost every way you won't care about the shocking difficulties he will bring to your life. There's only one person in the entire world who could pee on me and make it funny, and that is my infant son. I'm willing to bet that if any of you suddenly took it in your head to urinate on my shirt, I would react in a sharply different way. For my son, however, I am absolutely incapable of harboring anything like anger, much less resentment. I live and die with every smile, every cooing noise, every whine, and every yawn. So, the rest of these suggestions are just some facts to get used to. They won't really matter.
Congratulations Griffon, and welcome to the fold. This means you too can now look down upon Certis and tell him he's living a hollow life bereft of meaning. It's fun, try it!