Sophie: “Hey, Mom, what’s the difference between a snow man and snow woman?” Luc: “SNOW BALLS!” And he throws three of them at me.
Down here in North Carolina, snow is rare and exciting, and today was the day, the snow of the winter. The kids rushed out first thing, still in their jammies, coats hastily thrown on top, me hobbling out behind, afraid of falling on the slick ice. “Mom! Mom! IT’S SNOOOOWWWW!!!”
“Here, take this walking stick,” said Luc, skidding up to me with a board, part of a dismantled hammock. I took it, grateful, thinking, You know, hammock weather is really more my style.
“Too bad we don’t have shoes with cleats for you,” he added, slipping and sliding away. “Then we could walk up cliffs!”
To which Sophie added, “Stay on this tire track, it’s softer!” as she whizzed by, Henry galloping ahead, pulling her behind like a sled.
“Be caref–” I started to say…but naaa. She’ll be fine. And I trudged after them, taking pictures.
For the past ten years, going out into the world with them, I’ve always been the one with more experience, more knowledge, more physical strength, more money, more power. Not so, today. Foreshadowing of things to come.
It was a strikingly familiar feeling to a couple of days ago when I sat down and played Terraria with them for the first time, starting a new character (I named her Sriracha), letting them show me the ropes of mining and monster hunting. I gave Siri giant, spiky pink hair so I could recognize her more easily on the screen. Because I’m old and the dang characters are like, sixteen pixels high. “How do these controls work again?”
The kids have been playing Terraria for over a year, their characters are all OP (over-powered) and they’ve got mad skilz. While I attempted to walk/bounce up a cliff they buzzed around me, killing a goblin army, giving me weapons I couldn’t figure out how to use, crafting me armor for my safety. “What’s this shiny stuff?” I would ask, poking the ground, while their characters jumped and darted from here to there on the screen, “Mom! Look at this! Mom, put on this meteorite armor! Mom, here’s a spear, and eat this heart crystal! Mom!”
Me: “Um, I think I fell in a hole again.”
They really, really loved that I was playing with them. “You’re so adorable as Sriracha,” said Sophie. And Luc want4r to take care of me, it was very sweet. “I got you a rainhat, Mommy, so your hair won’t get wet.” Meaning an in-game hat, of course.
“But that will cover my pink hair….” And how will I know which blip is me?
Honestly, I’ve been happy in my role as tech-support all these years, but I’ve done very little actual gaming. I’m suddenly smacking my palm to my forehead about this. I run the Minecraft server, I install games, I look-up walk-throughs, I’ve even built computers. But actual playing…not so much. I don’t have time. And anyway, I get stressed out instead of have fun. It’s just not my scene. [whiny voice is whiny]
But they liked it sooooo much…..
I begin to see that it’s like going for a snow walk—it’s rare and the kids adore it. It’s great when I help suit them up and have hot chocolate waiting for them when they get back, but they really love it when I’m out there with them. And how many more years are they even going to want to play with me? I think…I’ve just got to do it. I’ve got to become enough of a gamer so that I’m not just tech-support. I need to get on the field. While I still can. While I’m still invited.
I can do this. I used to love gaming when I was a kid, Jump-man and text-adventures and and…Pong. (Again with the old.) Yeah. I can do this.
I’m going in.