Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter From a Son

"Dear loving mother," began the typed letter that lay on top of my keyboard when I returned home from work at 10:30 Tuesday night. The letter was from the son who went to bed the night before after spewing vitriole about his brother and me and his horrible life. The son who pulled the old door closed tight rather than leaving it open to hear the sounds of life throughout the house like he usually did.
Perhaps he wrote to apologize. Please, don't be naive. There's only one reason for a letter that begins like this: he wrote to ask for something.
"I am yearning for the newest experience in the world of first person shooter video games..." he wrote. I suppose a boy who yells and slams the door should be encouraged to play shooter video games.
He pointed out that his grades had improved and he had gone to swim practices and he had started mentoring -- all steps for the better this year. And I had to agree, if it hadn't been for the outburst the day before. The outburst really didn't have anything to do with me or his brother. It had to do with the new Xbox game coming out at midnight and he would not be in line to get it.
His "improved behavior" this fall, he admitted, was a ploy to receive the video game.
"This may be because of hopes to get the game as an early Christmas present, as so when I get the game, I will not be referred to as a 'noob' by all my friends and other online players," he wrote.
He then included the cost and a list of stores where we could easily find the game.
"I feel this would be a righteous investment on your part to see the smiling face of your ever so loving child as you hand him this glorious gift of Call of Duty Black Ops..."
Ah, yes. The lure of Xbox live which offers the ability to talk to your friends as if they are sitting in the same room with you when, in fact, they are in their own homes playing Black Ops. A boy never has to leave the basement to be surrounded by his buddies.
These were simpler days when Tucker was content to dress as a tiger while Spencer played at Johnny Tremaine and Grace posed as Hermione from Harry Potter.

I intend to get the game for Tucker, violence and all, as a Christmas present. I just don't see the need to rush out on release night to snatch it up. All of his friends have it, he claimed, today at lunch when I picked up him and four friends.
I drove them back to our house for lunch meat and cheese on sub buns, apple slices, Sun Chips, homemade brownies, M&Ms and Orange Crush. They each made their own sandwich and sat around the table.
"Owen, do you have it?" I asked. He shook his head.
"Sam?" He doesn't even have an Xbox. Two of the boys have the new game. Both said they bought it with money they had saved.
They tell of one boy at school who got the game when it was released at midnight and then played the game until 5 in the morning. He is grounded.
"I truly hope you rethink your decision twice over before you decide what you may," Tucker wrote in the letter to me. I suppose he thought my decision would be no, so if I rethought twice then a double negative would make a positive.
I showed the letter to Earl this morning.
"Send him a letter that says the committe will make a decision by Dec. 23," he said.
And he drove the boys back to school before 5th period started while I put away the sandwich fixings and the uneaten apple slices.
Tucker's friends go out for lunch everyday, he says. He takes his brown bag and goes along with them.
Eating out everyday and buying pre-Christmas presents just seems excessive. My kids already are so privileged. They've never been hungry because we don't have enough food. They have cell phones and fast internet connection. They have a television in the basement just for video games. They have plenty. Tucker can take one for the team this time.
Then Tucker goes home with his friend Josh to play Black Ops on the split screen. "This game is amazing," he says. Josh has two copies -- one for the upstair Xbox and one for the downstairs Xbox.
The bar for privileged keeps rising, but I don't have to keep jumping.


Anonymous said...

So hilarious and on so many levels !

Grace said...

That's amazing! I miss you guys so much, but I vote you make it a birthday present so I'll actually get to see him around Christmas for the short time I can.

Paulita said...

Oh, you won't want to be around him if he doesn't get it for Christmas. Think of it as a present for you too. It keeps him busy and not complaining.

Anonymous said...

Everything about this post makes me sad, sad for the child who knows he can get away with being so misbehaved, sad for the parents who will buy him such a violent game rated M for mature which he clearly is not, sad that he will receive it for Christmas as a gift to the adults so they don't have to deal with him, truly sad. When did parents decide to stop parenting? And then we wonder why our kids turn out so bad.

Paulita said...

Ah, well. I've never tried to hide my bad parenting, yet, my kids keep turning out good in spite of it. He's a typical teenager who we don't control rigidly. He'll learn to make decisions rather than being a puppet. Some will be good, some will be bad. That's how he'll learn. We'll try to guide him away from those irrevocable choices for a few more year.

Sheila said...

How did we get to be worlds apart, here I am writing about Thomas' obsession with yo-yo's and you're writing about shooter video games that we never used to let the kids play. :) Thomas and Hannah like to play Soul Caliber, I think its a gateway video game, next thing you know he'll be sneaking Halo from his brothers apartment. :)

Linda said...

I had this same problem but with different items years ago. It's just how American children are now. The difference I see in my grandchildren are the ones without TV. I like to see them entertain themselves.

BFF said...

To anonymous, suc comments out of context are uncalled for. Not only is Tucker a wonderful loving son navigating the difficult waters of adolescence with as much confidence as one could expect but Paulita is a stellar mother who has raised kind, loving and tender boys whom any one of us would be happy to have date our daughters. I understand a difference of opinion about a video game but to impugn her parenting from a blog post without knowing this family or this mother is sad and unfortunate. One just wonders what is hiding in your parenting cloet?

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