Dad In Progress

So my son informed me he registered for an online gaming tournament, but he was very vague and non-specific with the details. I don’t think he was deliberately trying to hide anything. Rather, he still doesn’t see things from the perspective I do as a dad (what’s the tournament?, what’s the URL?, is there a fee?, what type of personal information, if any did you provide?, etc.)

So I turned to reddit​ to try and research it. I tend to shy away from reddit because sometimes you need a thick skin to navigate the comments, but the users were really helpful and supportive.

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Then I got to these comments. The both filled and broke my heart at the same time.

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I think I am a pretty cool dad, but I am by no means perfect. For as tough as I used to be with my kids, I know I’ve gotten a little soft these last couple of years. Still, I am very proud of the job my ex-wife, my current wife, and I have done in bringing up the two stellar, well behaved, and loving young adults that are my children.

Still, the road ahead is long, and they – as sixteen and fourteen year-olds – have the most challenging time in their lives yet to come. Sports radio personality Colin Cowherd once said it best about this age for kids. “You stop being a parent and you start being a consultant.”

I think there’s a lot of truth to that, but how I really see myself right now is as an enabler of dreams. I still have a lot of responsibility to make sure they’re getting good grades in school, behaving, staying out of trouble, etc., but I also need to continue asking what they want to do when they grow up, where do they see themselves in ten years, and what their dreams are. Then, I need to work my tail off to help steer them in that direction.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to being a good parent, except to say love them, learn from them, let them develop into who they want to be. Because life’s not a video game and there’s no reset button.

 

Binary Memories

I saw a meme the other day that said something to the effect of, “great memories aren’t made playing video games.” I respectfully disagree.

As tough as it is for me sometimes to bond with my daughter, it’s quite easy with my son. All I need to do is run over to Game Stop and pick up a new video game. Then we’ll spend a Friday evening (and most of Saturday morning) tearing it up.

When Danny was younger, he’d rely on me more to help with the problem solving aspects of a game. If there was a level he couldn’t clear or a puzzle he couldn’t figure out, he’d hand the controller over to me. Now that’s he’s older (he’ll be thirteen in May), he doesn’t pass the controller over quite as much.

If you’re an avid console gamer, then you can appreciate the notion that learning the button commands for a game can be like learning a new language. Specifically with sports games where you may be required to press a series of buttons in a certain sequence or all at once. It really is quite fascinating for me to watch Danny play. It’s as if I am watching him develop muscle memory right before my eyes, and I’ve seen him do things in a game that leave me speechless.

To be clear, he routinely kicks my ass when we play head to head, and he’s only going to get better.

Yet through it all – through the levels of zombie apocalypse or World Cup soccer matches or covert, special operations missions in the jungle, or superhero adventures – it’s a special time we share. Danny remains super-informed on games and consoles and new developments, and he loves sharing that information with me.

The student has become the teacher, and I am fine with that because PS3 (and now PS4) time is our time. It’s the time we get to hang out and be father and son together. It’s the time we get to be goofy with each other. It’s the time when I am able to appreciate the young man into which he’s transforming, and I’ve found myself being able to apply some of our shared gaming experiences to real world troubles he’s faced. I hope when he’s out on his own as a grown up he’ll look back at those nights playing video games with dad as some of the greatest memories of his life.

 

We <3 Gaming

013/365 A Minecraft Success Wrapped in Failure

My 10 year-old son Daniel is quite the Minecraft junkie. He’ll spend hours playing if I let him.

Lately, he’s been obsessed with installing a new mod called The Aether. It’s basically some files that allow you to play a different ‘level’ within the Minecraft world. Daniel took to YouTube and even some Minecraft forums to figure out how to get the Aether mod to work.

Long story short, it wasn’t working. We followed the instructions step by step, and at the end of an hour and a half, nothing. “Let’s start over from scratch,” he said. I REALLY didn’t want to start over from scratch, but the disappointment in his face and the tears welling up in his eyes made me let out a big sigh and say okay.

We deleted all the files and started over.

When it came time to launch the game, we both jumped out of our chairs, arms extended as if our favorite team had scored a touchdown, both of us shouting, “YES!” We got the Aether to work!

…or so we thought.

Once Daniel selected the option to proceed with the game, all we saw was a black screen. Nothing. We waited and waited and waited and then we got some more of the nothing. Now I, too, was deflated and with tears beginning to well up in my eyes.

I looked at him and then at my watch. I had not realized how late it had gotten.

“Dude, we tried. I don’t know why the game’s not running, but we did well to get this far.” And with that, I bailed.

Last I checked he was re-scouring the YouTubes to see if he can figure out the answer. So if any of you happen to know any Minecraft gurus that can help us out, please be sure to direct them my way.