It’s a strange time to be alive. It seems to me that there is more fake around than there are things that are real. Like really real. Can you even buy a watermelon with seeds in it anymore, kind of real.
Our kids, poor things, are really the test case for this society that we live in. A world where the shots that look the realist in movies are computer generated, our food has been genetically modified so that even a shot of round-up won’t kill the crops, our money handlings are but a printout on a piece of paper and our idea of having a family game of baseball is with 5 wii remotes and moving the coffee table out of the way.
It makes me sad for my boys, a bit scared even. There are just simply things that I don’t know how to teach them because I didn’t have them growing up. (watermelons had seeds, I tell them, and they scoff. Our phone stayed at home, I relay, and they shake their heads in disbelief)
All of my classmates didn’t have cell phones when I was in grade 8 and we couldn’t access any information, pictures, videos, or tutorials that we wanted from wherever we wanted on hand-held devices. It’s a scary thing, man. Seriously.
My video games were not realistic first person shoot ’em ups where dodging cops or bludgeoning aliens was the goal. Nope. I was a three quarter pie shape thingie that ate flashing dots. Or there was that other awesome one where I was just a line and I had to bounce a ball off of me. I’m pretty sure my parents never ever questioned whether or not that was appropriate for me or what it might do for my aggression levels. They weren’t worried about my being able to operate as a law-abiding citizen based on these games. I’m quite certain of it.
My babies got 5 point harnessed into car seats, can’t bike without a helmet on their head, are not exposed to second hand smoke in the non-smoking section of the restaurant and can’t put a dang thing in their mouth without knowing exactly how many calories it is per serving.
Most of these are good things, I admit. But it’s just so safe. So, adventureless. So, well, boring.
The talk came up in our home again about playing certain video games. I think it comes up every single summer because it’s when they play the most and when they are the most bored. During the school year we limit ‘screens’ to weekends and they wouldn’t have time for them anyways with sports and homework and youth group and whatever else we have going on during the week. So it didn’t suprised me that it came up….again.
“Dad, will you talk to Mom about it?” Is always how the scenario begins.
“Yes, we’ll talk.” Is always what we give them. And we do. Actually.
We talk about why they want to play these games and how I don’t understand because I’m a girl and how of course I don’t understand because I’m a girl! And we discuss age appropriate based on OUR standards, not some rating on a box and we talk of holding our children to a higher bar than ‘all the other kids are’. We talk of characteristics of each child and maturity and responsibility and just how trustworthy they have proven to be. And then somehow, somewhere in the middle of this discussion I realize what’s going on. I get why our kids might have the twisted desire to blow $*^% up.
They live in North America.
They have been fakified. Entertained to death.
There are no animals to be feared or military to make your heart skip a beat. There isn’t the sound of gun fire or the look of poverty. They don’t wonder when they will eat next or what will happen if the rain doesn’t stop. Or doesn’t come.
Adventure is a walk downtown after 10 pm to see the same homeless people in their same spot but this time maybe yelling drunkenly instead of just sauntering around. Or going zip-lining fully harnessed in without even the potential of coming out with a scratch.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see my children harmed or injured or fearful of anything. But I think its fair to say that the reason they want to live adventure on screen is because they don’t get that heart pounding adrenaline rush anywhere else.
“So,” I said in the midst of our discussion, “if he wants to shoot things lets take him to shoot things. Give him a real gun and let him aim at something. Let him feel the pounding of his heart in his chest that moment before he pulls the trigger. Let him be a bit scared of what’s going to happen. Let him feel the kick of it in his arm. Let him see that this is something to be learned and respected and that it is not. a . joke. Let him actually do it instead of just pretending all the time. Our kids live their lives pretending all. the. time!”
Of course when I say let him shoot things I mean a target with instruction in an appropriate and legal place complete with all safety measures in check.
This just kind of came up out of me out of the blue and we haven’t mentioned anything to him because, well, that would be ridiculous at this point. But over my day and a half of thinking, I feel like maybe, just maybe I’d be more okay with that then him watching fake people get blown to smithereens on some fake planet with a fake gun.
What do you think?