Dad vs. Zelda
by Sam Harper
Nothing destroys an ironclad parental guideline faster than the realization that the guideline makes your child a social leper. So, I did what every father does when he takes a hard look at himself and sees that his pointlessly rigid, semi-Quixotic stand on a parenting issue is only going to achieve a boatload of family therapy bills. I lunged for my rationalization file.
Fortunately, the file contained a number of nifty, uh, reasons to buy Nintendo64. (1) Video games are here to stay, and they provide cutting edge computer animation in this increasing visual world. (Maybe Henry will become a world renowned video animator!) (2) Video games are basically the `90s version of the comic book, complete with interesting characters whore entangled in actual story lines (Hell be an award winning video game writer!) (3) Being fluent in these games is as important to Henrys socialization process as TV was to mine. I remember being knocked because I wasnt up on my Dick-and-Dan-isms on the mornings after Laugh-In. (Did I mention that my Dad had a pointlessly rigid, semi-Quixotic NO TV!! rule?)
So, for Christmas Santa delivered Zelda and Nintendo 64.
And then things really got complicated.
First, I made strict rules about usage. A half-hour for each boy on Saturday and Sunday. No playing during the week. Unfortunately, this created the dreaded forbidden fruit syndrome. In other words, they wanted Zelda more than ever because I was only letting them play some of the time.
Again, I consulted my childhood and remembered that when I finally got out of my TV-deprived house and went to college, I spent 4 years on the common room couch, catching up on sit-coms. Fortunately, I attended one of those hippie colleges where I could design my own major. And though I graduated Summa Cum Laude in Laverne and Shirley, I decided it would be best if my kids college experience didnt mirror mine.
So, I dropped the usage rules. The new plan was to let the kids play Zelda all the time. Any time. Zelda in the morning. Zelda at night. Zelda until they were so sick of Zelda that theyd never play again
Weeks passed. Undone homework sat on their little desks. Annoying slot machine sounds emanated from the family room day in and day out. There was, I found, no bottom to their desire for Zelda.
In the end, I decided there was only one answer. Embrace the technology. Become a gamer. Let go, let Zelda.
So, I walked into the family room, picked up a controller and sat down beside my son. Teach me, I said. And he looked at me, smiled and said, Were gonna have a lot of fun together, Dad.
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Copyright © 1999 Sam Harper
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