Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Evening In The Life Of A Daddy

I got home just a little ahead of everyone else last night, so I fired up a video game. I didn't use the PS3, because it still has Splatterhouse in it, and I learned my lesson after the Ninja Scroll Incident.[1] The PS2 had the Bakugan: Battle Brawlers video game in it, which is about as close as I ever want to come to playing Bakugan, but which would serve to pass the time admirably. (I've been playing it since Firstborn discovered it a few weeks ago, partly out of curiosity but mostly so I'd have some idea of how it works when Firstborn inevitably starts asking for help.)

As far as that goes, it worked just fine: I fought a couple of battles, bought a new card to enhance my Bakugans, and upgraded the weakest of the ones I'm using. (Geek note: I'm playing Darkus, naturally.) And Beautiful Wife came home, and both boys came looking for me, and I started saving my game... whereupon Firstborn demanded that I continue playing so he could watch.

::sigh:: It's so difficult being a parent. Especially when the boys demand such sacrifices from me.

So I plant myself back in front of the TV in the living room, and Firstborn perches on the couch. And I proceed to kick butt, owing to my Mad Bakugan Skills, and also to the fact that I've set the difficulty rating down to the "One-Armed Toddler" level.

Secondborn, meanwhile, is in the kitchen, watching a Sesame Street: Love The Earth video with his mother and eating cheese. This is presumably sufficient to occupy his attention.

After a while, the Beautiful Woman comes into the living room and asks if she can fall into a hot bath. I allow as how this sounds fine, since Firstborn is completely occupied watching me, and Secondborn is being similarly entertained by a little furry red monster.

A few minutes after the sound of running water has shut off, Secondborn comes into the living room on his scooter. In retrospect, I should have taken this as a warning. But he just wheeled himself up next to me, waved, and said, "Hi, Daddy."

I said, "Hi, Secondborn."

He scooted his scooter back around the corner and into the kitchen. I went back to playing the video game.

Now, in my brain, the exchange went something like this: Oh, cool, Secondborn has come to check on us. "Hi, Secondborn." And now he's going back to watch more Elmo. Also, someone has just attempted a Sphere Attack on my Bakugan, and I must show them the error of their ways.

Secondborn, apparently, was thinking something more like this: They're busy. Excellent. Now I can practice my art, free from their Philistine criticisms and Puritanical rules. I must seize this opportunity without hesitation! LET THERE BE ART!!!

At least, when the Beautiful Woman finally yelled to tell me that it was time for Secondborn to join her in the bathtub, I found that he'd been engaged in a game of his own. For those new to the topic: there is a genre of video games known as "Platformers" which focus on the characters leaping about in unlikely ways to reach improbable places under suicidal conditions. There is a sub-genre of Platformers in which the characters are also required to move objects about in order to gain access to otherwise-inaccessible locations.

This was what Roland had been doing. He'd pulled a chair over to the shelves, and used it to climb up so that he could get out a crayon. Then he'd climbed back down, and moved the chair over in front of the television set. There, he climbed back up and set about coloring on the screen, and indeed most of the front of the TV.

If, some fifteen years from now, he's arrested as a Tagger, I will not be surprised.

I have to say, Sesame Street looks very different through an uneven wall of green crayon. Fortunately, our TVs are the old-fashioned sort - the kind that are about two feet thick, and have actual glass screens. (I'm told there's some modern sort of television called a "flat screen," but I don't hold with such newfangled devices.) As it happens, my Luddite tendencies are sometimes advantageous: I'm pretty sure that if this had been a newer television, I'd have been buying a replacement instead of just cleaning it off.

If there's a moral to this story, it's this: no matter how annoying your kids are when they're being loud, you should really worry when they're quiet.

[1] I was watching television while the Beautiful Wife was out with the kids. The DVD that was playing was an episode of Ninja Scroll: The Series, a particularly violent bit of Japanese animation. Apparently I didn't hear the garage door when they returned, because my first hint of their arrival was Firstborn walking into the living room and stopping to stare at the TV screen, where a bunch of ninjas were hacking each other into very bloody pieces - not exactly the sort of thing I was prepared to explain to a traumatized three-year-old. I didn't dare turn the television off, though, because then he'd really be curious. So I sat there, frozen with panic, while he stood and watched the gore and carnage.

Then, after a moment, he said: "Someday I will know how to use a sword." And he turned and walked off.

At which point I quickly stopped the show and shut off the TV, so I could have my heart attack in peace.


  1. Well, at least your son didn't walk in on you watching the movie Alien. Specifically the chest-bursting scene *narrows eyes at my father*.

    "Fortunately, our TVs are the old-fashioned sort - the kind that are about two feet thick, and have actual glass screens"

    Glass-tube tvs last longer; also no dead pixels to trigger OCD spazz attacks. Seriously, why do the pixels in the middle of the screen always have to die? Why not the ones off to the side?

  2. At least it was a crayon on the TV, not a Sharpie on the freshly painted wall.

    cjmr, who youngest daughter sees 'on a high shelf, in Mommy's locked room' as a challenge...


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