By: Tanya Ward Goodman
We did it. We bought an X-Box.
My son has wanted one for over four years. He’s pined for the thing, longingly tracing his fingers over newspaper advertisements and circulars from Best Buy. He’s planned play dates with friends who have X-Boxes and followed my brother from room to room asking “Uncle J, can we play, when can we play, are you ready to play?”
But we didn’t cave in.
I’ve seen what can happen. Once he’s got the smooth little controller in his hands, once the television screen is crowded with Lego Star Wars characters or Lego Harry Potter or Lego whoever, it’s hard to extract my boy from this Lego world. He chews his lip and squints his eyes and focuses all his attention. My voice, our house, the warm dinner on the table, these things that belong to the real world are all suddenly light years away.
I didn’t want to lose him like this.
“D. has an X-Box, S. has a DS, O. has an X-Box, Uncle J. has an X-Box, a Wii, and a DS. And I don’t have any of those things.”
“You have Legos,” I want to say, “And books and an interest in cooking. Remember how much you liked “Singing In The Rain?” My boy likes puzzles and board games and kicking a ball against the garage. He likes to jump in puddles and ride his bike at top speed down our sidewalk. He likes to look at maps and think about the ocean and go to the library.
I didn’t want to push those things aside.
But I wanted him to feel like he was part of something larger – a kid with kid stuff. I try to be cool, I download Kanye West songs and search iTunes for something he thinks might be called “Shufflin’”. I buy shirts emblazoned with Perry the Platypus. I listen to AC/DC in the car at top volume and try to understand why the Ninjago is so darned interesting.
And so we got him an X-Box. He’s a boy. He wants to play video games.
He was thrilled. But also calm. Much calmer than I expected. He took time out from set up to eat breakfast. He claimed this measured pace made the experience better. He played a lot of video games yesterday, but he shared the controller with his sister, he thought of a good way for his friends to have a turn. He ran outside in the rain, played ball in the driveway, and had conversations (brief conversations) with grown ups. We played a board game. He worked on a puzzle with his grandmother. He was grateful and calm and didn’t disappear.
It’s just one more toy if we treat it that way. (And, just by bringing it into the house, my husband and I racked up about a billion cool points.)
We didn’t lose him.