Background: (stuff you need to know to understand the short dialogue that follows) A couple of weeks ago Susan and I flew out to San Diego to visit our son Sam and his family before he left for a six-month deployment with the USMC. I stayed a week and Susan stayed two weeks. She is flying back late tonight with Valerie and Aaron.
While out there, Sam and I played a video game called Midnight Club: Los Angeles - a racing game. The graphics are amazing and the streets you race on are those of LA. There are lots of other cars on the streets NOT racing (road hogs!) and there are even some police cruisers that occasionally pursue you and pull you over – if they can catch you.
You gain points and earn money by winning races. More points and money means more options of cars that you can buy and the chance to upgrade your vehicle of choice. As you advance in your ranking – I’m now an “Elite Driver” – the races get harder but the rewards get bigger.
I’ve always loved cars, motorcycles and speed… so I really enjoyed playing this game. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that Susan decided to surprise me with my own copy as an early Father’s Day gift before my return home. A couple of days ago I called Susan…
Me: Before the kids rat me out, I stayed up late playing that new game last night. (Confession is not only good for the soul but keeps others from having anything on you – LOL)
Susan: How late?
Me: Well… I might have seen the sun come up… (yes, I’m subtle AND vague. It’s a gift.)
Susan: (gasp) RICK!
I am a night owl by nature but staying up all night is extremely rare. We had a good laugh about it and she asked if she needed to tell the kids to hide it. I said no, but told the kids to ignore any text from their mom telling them to hide the game. LOL
I’m not advocating video games per se and like most parents I monitor not only what my kids play but how long they sit in front of the TV. But something unexpected happened with this particular game.
Brynden, our youngest, is almost 13 and hitting a critical period in his journey toward adulthood. Being very relational, it’s been a rough six months with his oldest brother moving to FL for a college internship and his next oldest brother moving to CA for the Marines.
So I’ve wanted to find new ways for us to connect and as it turns out he loves the new game as much as I do. I had no idea that cars or racing was something he would enjoy, but then again most of the games his older brothers play are either war games or action adventure.
Connecting over a video game might not seem very important in the big scheme of things but these little relational bridges will provide opportunity down the road to talk about the bigger issues of life when the need arises. I’ve had several of those moments lately with my 17-year-old twin daughters who are starting to look at colleges and careers.
P.S. – Excuse me while I go race my $32,000 Ducati motorcycle around the streets of LA.
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.