Thursday, August 22, 2019
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A Dad’s Life: Role Reversal

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I love reading. I love reading to myself and I love reading to my kids. Because of this I am always on the lookout for a good new book. A friend of ours introduced me to Little Pea, Little Oink, and Little Hoot.

Each of these books are about children not wanting to do something their parents want them to do. For example Little Hoot`s Mama and Papa want him to stay up late like a good respectable owl. Little Hoot on the other hand wants to go to bed early. On one page Little Hoot makes a promise to himself, when he grows up he will let his children go to bed as early as they want.

The books are very cute and they remind me of all the child rearing promises I muttered to myself before I became a parent.

Truth be told a lot of them had to do with video games. Growing up I loved playing games. A habit I have not gotten out of, nor do I plan too.

Looking back I still remember feeling very annoyed when I was told that it was time to stop playing immediately because either a) the amount of unspecified time I was allotted to playing games had run out or b) something requiring my attention had started, like supper being on the table.

To be clear, the problem wasn’t stopping. The problem was stopping immediately. I hated shutting my game off in the middle of a level, or in between save points. Turing the game off immediately meant I lost whatever progress I had made since I earned my last passcode, or since the last time I was able to save. To my folks this seemed silly. It was just a game. To me it mattered a lot. It was time I spent and achievements I had earned.

I muttered to myself, ‘When I grow up I will let my kids finish the level before making them turn off their game’

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Fast forward to today and my five year old son loves playing his Wii U and his 2DS. On more than one occasion I have been in the position where I have had to tell my son that it is time to turn off the game. Sometimes it is so we can go outside and play, other times that it is because something like supper is about to begin. And every time I tell him it is time to be done with his game, out of his mouth leaps the same protests I remember making myself. Not the least of which is ‘just let me finish the level’.

When I am on the ball, I try to let Simeon know that his video game time is coming to an end with a 5 minute warning. But there are other times when such a countdown is either forgotten or otherwise not possible.

Suddenly there I am telling my son that game time is over and he has to do something else immediately. There I am telling him that he can’t finish the castle in Mario even though I know if I give him 10 more minutes he can save his game. There I am, the very same person who in his early 20 got home from church, fired up his PlayStation and gamed until bed. There I am, the parent who looks forward to his children going to bed when Meghan has a new book to read so that I can log time with a game myself. There I am, telling my mini-gamer of a son that he has to be all done NOW or I will take his Wii U/2DS away for a few days.

Life is funny like that I guess. I could not avoid becoming the person that I swore I would never be. I am sorry little Christopher, when you grew up you were not always able to let your children finish the level.

Christopher Drew is the pastor at Sackville Baptist Church. He is the father for three and the husband of one. He is a self professed geek and gamer. Read more about family, faith, and geekery at http://ModernManOfTheCloth.com