Sundays: usually spent cursing your existence as you think about trudging to work the next day. It's also the day you might catch up on all the shows on your DVR or what have you. Basically, Sundays are the equivalent of lazing about, in my mind. But lazing is not part of the plan when you have rambunctious 6 year old nephews and a 4 year old niece, who insist you take their 8 dart rapid fire action Nerf gun outside for a game of "You're the Bad Guy and You Have to Chase Us".
Very early on, my sister decided that the introduction to video games for her now 6 year old would be put off until he was about 7 years old. That's not to say she was trying to limit his exposure completely to video games but to things such as FPS games, Resident Evil type zombies and the like, she felt it best to wait until he was older (older than seven, probably).
My brother on the other hand, is the complete opposite. His son is all about his Super Heroes, blasters, headhunting zombies, fighting games and combat. He is also 6 and his introduction to those types of games happened about a year or so ago.
Child A (my brother's son - herein referred to as "A") and Child L (my sister's son - herein referred to as "L") are very different kids though and always have been. While A used to bite the hell out of L when they were babies, they've changed a bit now.
A is quite loving and not so daring. We used to call him the Strategist. In a game of "Ghost Hunting", A would tell L to go into the dark room first. A was of the mind that the scary Ghost hiding in the room (the ghost being one of us) would jump out and get L, giving A the chance to run off and he'd be safe.
L is quite loving as well, and he's the daring kind who will pick the tallest slide in the playground to go down with no real fear of heights or giving such things a second thought.
Having a sister and brother-in-law who are both into gaming, it was inevitable that L would have some sort of video game influence in his life.
I'm lucky in that whatever I'm playing, L takes interest as any kid would to video games. And so I've been able to introduce him to Luigi, Jak & Daxter, Scribblenauts, Sound Shapes and Final Fantasy.
It was a great source of joy for me when he wanted to hear "One-Winged Angel" over and over again as I was playing Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. I remember fondly that period of life when he was just 3 years old and "Blitzkrieg Bop" was his favourite song and he would "Hey Ho" like a pro in Rock Band. And it was when he was watching me play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and started reading directions off the screen and told me where to go that I was amazed.
Yep, I've got a mind to shape. At least I thought so until recently.
These days, both A and L have taken to playing Minecraft.
L has become obsessed with everything creepers, venturing into The Nether and chopping up pigs much to my chagrin. He claims he needs them for food. I think he's just trying to make me cry.
It's not that I mind his playing Minecraft but he did not get access to that game by my direct doing. Like any curious kid, I think he stumbled upon it while he was playing a game on my sister's Iphone. I knew Minecraft was fairly harmless, so he just kept playing when asked if it was appropriate.
The other day, he got into a fight with A. A was obsessed with Minecraft for a while too and they played together frequently (and still do actually) until one weekend quite recently, A informed L that Sonic was now his favourite game and character (something that was probably my doing since I gifted my brother and A a PS3 for Christmas).
L could not understand why his cousin would betray him and their beloved Minecraft bonding time.
Angry tears were shed. Feelings were hurt. It was a mess.
In their minds, when I play "The Bad Guy" I'm either a Zombie, a mere robber who steals Pokemon from the Store (Team Rocket?) or Loki.
On Sunday last, I got to see their video game influences at work in their outside play time. After being handed the Nerf gun and being told I was the bad guy (they always make me the bad guy because they know I gravitate towards villains), they got to running.
Darts went flying, hitting tiny shoes, and little hams were all in the crossfire. I got them pretty good on multiple occasions.
But then they informed me that they each had 100 plus lives and that I did nothing to them. They started talking about how they were re-spawning. A told me he was Iron Man and he kept fluctuating between having 9% and 8% suit functionality every time I tagged him with a dart. Or maybe it was 90% or 80%, I'm not quite sure what he was trying to tell me.
The blaster belonged to A and he used a smaller one shot dart gun as his method of attack. L fought with a balloon noise maker (some sort of magical, sonic weapon he later told me) and his Minecraft sword.
I don't know what's going to happen in the next few years.
Maybe A will start wielding blades and magic spells.
Maybe L will take to fighting off zombies with blasters (as opposed to pea shooters - he loves Plants vs Zombies), and with his fists.
Or maybe they will both not really care about any of this and move on to something else.
If they still care to hang out with me in 2 to 5 years' time, I'm going to do everything in my power to continue molding them.
In the meanwhile, Sundays out in the sun with Infinite Lives and Iron Man are just as okay as rainy days indoors burning things in Little Inferno's Virtual Fireplace.
Oh, and you might be wondering about my niece. She's a bit of an Independent little thing and I've seen her trade Lego Superman for Lego Friends in a span of six months. And while she will still run around with the boys and show interest in what her big brother and older cousin are doing, I'm not so sure I can do much to influence her anymore but I'm certainly going to try. Though you know, I'm okay with having tea and scones with her too.
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Also, thanks to Morie for planting a seed for an idea for this post.