We’ve officially entered the season of wants.
Actually, it began before the leaves finished falling and the insanity of Black Friday revved up.
“You know that thermal-imaging camera I wanted to buy for, like, $3,000 a few years ago?” the husband asked as we took a walk outside, soaking in the therapeutic quality of nature. “You know, you can get the same technology for a fraction of the cost for the iPhone.”
Before I could finish wondering what on Earth he needs to thermally image, he added, “I need a new iPhone for it, too.”
Seriously? “We’re in the woods. Can we avoid talking about shopping?” I demanded.
“You can use the thermal-imaging camera to spot animals in the woods at night!” said the man who hates the woods in summer, fall, winter and spring.
Nice try. But not that smooth, dude.
Our oldest son schooled him on the art of the ask the other day. It was pretty remarkable.
We were at home on a Saturday morning when the 11-year-old came downstairs with his computer-printed proposal to buy a “Star Wars” video game that is recommended for teenagers or older because it features some violence.
“Dear Mom and Dad,” it read. “I have several arguments for me to get this and here they are.
●“It is a first person shooter, but you can switch to second person.”
(Yes, he used bullet points here. And no, I have no idea what second-person shooter means.)
●“I am getting older and am able to do more things.”
●“You let me watch all the ‘Star Wars’ movies and make the Lego minifigures go blam blam blam! This is just a digital version of that.”
The letter, which went on with more arguments, was really aimed at me.
My husband is a vidiot from the “Centipede” era. And he probably would have substituted our sons’ crib-rail busy box for a Nintendo if I weren’t looking.
“I played all those games, and I turned out fine,” he and several million other guys argue.
I thought I had solved the problem by allowing a Wii into our home and by buying only “Wii Fit” and “Gummy Bears Mini Golf” games for the console. Yeah, that went over well. Like serving salad to a cat.
So I gave in to “Just Dance.” Then football. And then video hockey. And then a Mickey Mouse game in which Mickey wields a small instrument in his hand to sort of, I don’t know, shoot at things? It’s a paintbrush, guys. Mickey is painting. That’s okay, right?
But no real shooting. That was my rule.
So my son addressed my concerns about violence in his proposal — by trying to disarm me.
“I know you have seen the turnout of shooting people and that makes me feel bad about asking for this,” he wrote. “I don’t mean to be a brat (I am) but please consider letting me buy this. Thank you so much and sorry.”
What he wants is a “Star Wars: Battlefront” game, which has no blood or gore, just battle scenes from the movies. It’s hardly in the “Grand Theft Auto” or the spine-ripping, brain-spilling commando territory.
It’s the quintessential parenting dilemma, especially at Christmas: How much do you cave on your philosophical, political and moral beliefs when it comes to the commercial onslaught?
The sexist patriarchy of Barbie, the princess thing, and the guns, swords and spears.
I posted my boy’s clever plea on Facebook and asked my friends for advice.
“My oldest did this a few years ago for ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ ” one replied. “He started the campaign in the summer prior to a Christmas request. It was impressive. He took pains to point out the beautiful artwork in the game as well as the historical accuracy. He got it.”
“I think he’s headed for law school,” another predicted, “but meanwhile NO. There must be another game?”
Here’s what I also still can’t decide: Is it heartbreaking that my kid knows the term “first-person shooter”? This is, after all, a generation of kids who are growing up with quarterly armed-intruder drills at school.
Or is it uplifting that today’s kids are aware of these concerns, have some context for the aversion to shoot-’em-ups and can reasonably work on delineating between play and real life?
This could be one of the hallmarks of his generation, a maturity and awareness of the world and a rigorous defense of its desires. Then again, maybe it’s just another version of the good old con.
Within days of presenting his letter to us and sharing it with his friends, three kids asked whether he could write one for them, too.
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