Thursday, 4 March 2010

Bumping heads.

Here’s a message to the designers of games with an “18” tag

– a pox on all your houses. And the same to the parents of the children in my son’s age group who allow their kids to play this vile stuff.

Ok, that’s a wee bit strong admittedly but I am SICK of saying no to the wee fella who has recently taken Pester Power to new levels. If he takes this quality of persistence in to other areas of his life as he matures we will have no worries at all about his future.

Two HOURS on Saturday.

An hour on Sunday.

Two hours yesterday.

And I’m certain his mother got the same treatment.

We were sitting in the bookshop after scouting one of the game shops. Which made him feel even worse because all of the games he wanted were rated 18.. .and the conversations went something like this...

Him – How can I be the oldest boy in the class and the ONLY one not allowed to play 18 games?

Me – Thems the breaks, kid.

Him – tell me again why not?

Me – because it’s illegal.

Him – Give me a GOOD reason why not.

Me – because it’s illegal.

He sighs dramatically and then stares at me as if trying to burn a hole in my forehead with his will. I wear my best bored expression. The one I wear when celebrity TV is on.

Me – what are you doing?

Him – just looking.

Me – you’re good at it.

Him – oh, so now you say I’m good at something.

Me – you’re good at everything you put your mind to, son.

Him – except persuading you and mum to allow me to play 18 games.

Me – you speak much truth, young man.

Him – but daaaaaaad, EVERYbody else in my school gets to play them. They think I’m a freak. (He’s now wearing a petted lip the size of my sofa – and I feel a wee bit guilty)

Me – what does your Mum say?

Him – she says no. She always says no.

Me – well there you go.

Him – but Daaaaaad, what’s the worst that could happen?

Me – your mind becomes deeply but subtly flawed over a number of years and you go crazy from a bell tower with a rifle and kill everybody you see.

Him – you REALLY think I could kill people? Do you really not trust me, dad? Do you really think I could so something like that? I could never hurt anyone...

Me – of course I trust you...calm down...I’m just giving you an extreme example.

Him – I could NEVER hurt anyone, Dad – he crosses his arms – and I’m REALLY hurt that you could say something like that.

Me (looking for a metaphorical shovel to move away some of the metaphorical shite I am metaphorically standing knee deep in) – I’m not saying I think you are capable of doing something like that...

Him – so why say it, dad? Don’t you trust me? (He’s big on trust.)

Me – of course I trust you, but this stuff is too violent and you are not of an age to process the images you see in these games safely.

Him – So. People get their heads ripped off and shot to pieces. So what – he shrugs – it’s not real, Dad. I KNOW it’s not real and I’m not going to copy ANY of that stuff. I’m not crazy.

I’m now wondering how and where he learned to speak in capitals.

Him – please, Dad, pleeeeeeeease? All the other kids laugh at me. They think I’m a loser.

Me (feeling really shitty) – ok, I’ll speak to your Mum.

Him – oh (crosses his arms) so she’s the boss of you then?

Me – nobody is the boss. We agreed on this together and I’m not going to go behind her back and break the deal. Besides, you might want to re-think your tactic here. You’re trying to win me over by being nice and then you suddenly go for the cheap shot and try to offend me.

We settle into silence. I carry on reading my book. He carries on drilling my forehead with his eyes, like he’s trying to hypnotise me with his thoughts.

Him – Dad, pleeeeee....

Me – No. No. No. And I’ll tell you something else. Keep on doing this and you won’t get ANY games for your Xbox.

I realise I’m shouting when people around us look over.

He crosses his arms and his chin slumps on to his chest – sorry, dad.

Me – s’okay, buddy.

I pat his arm. Without even the slightest note of being patronising.

Me – there must be some good games for kids your age.

Him – there was that one – he mentions something by name. Means nothing to me.

Me – why don’t you go across to the shop and get that while I finish my coffee?

Him – but it’s a 12.

Me – and you’ll be 12 in a couple of weeks.

Him – yeah, in a couple of weeks. You want me to LIE?


  1. Oh he's good! Just think, only 6 more years of this. I'm sure you'll cope.

    This conversation sounds so familiar. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a site teenagers can access to pick up tips on how to pester parents.

  2. D'ye think they run underground seminars with sessions entitled "Persistence Pays" and "How to Manipulate and Engage Parental Emotions"

  3. My admiration for him just grows and grows - his debating skills, his psychological insights, his refined political nous, let me know when he's running for election. I'll vote for him.

    (And, by the way, Sky Blue's 'only 6 more years of this' is deceptive. Take it from me, one day the whole process will be repeated with grandchildren - and God knows what the games will be like then.)

  4. thanks for your "support", Bill. You know as he gets older and the issues develop I'm going to have to come up with some better answers, aren't I?

  5. what an adorable boy! it scares me how hard we have to work to outsmart and outtalk these critters. i, too, admired my son' steamroll tactics knowing how useful they would be--when he was no longer under my thumb!! he just had to survive until them lest i beat him to death.

  6. I was missing the wee lad. They pass THAT one down "Everybody else gets to do it" and I guess every now and then they get lucky and guilt trip a parent into flipping.

    I don't think you'll be able to stand up to 6 more years. He's getting way too good at strategy.

  7. I don't know who I'm rooting for here, Michael, as the wee one is so good at it! Seriously, hang in there with the good parenting.

  8. I have one of these kids at home. Difficult to parent, but they'll make great adults.

  9. Cheers, Rosemary.

    I agree totally, SSAS - you want them to use their brain, dontcha?