Video games! Video games! Video games! I know they’re cool, I know they’re neat but sometimes I’d like to dropkick them with my feet!!!
My now newly turned 12yr old just looooooves his video games. I’m certain it’s an addiction and that someday, 20 years from now, a study is going to show how our children’s brains map completely differently from our brains as kids. It will show the results of all the technology our kids have in their lives and I fear it won’t be pretty. The technological demon fighting for first place in our house is the X-Box. Now I could go on and on about what I think is happening, on a synaptic level, for our kids but I won’t. This story is about trying to bring awareness to my son for, what I believe is, his addiction to video games.
Now we’ve had many conversations in my house about the addictive nature of this electronic evil. We’ve discussed how it sucks you in and slowly starts to sever your connection to things in life you love like reading, playing outside, going on adventures or even managing your life. You see my 12yr. old was starting to drop the ball more and more in his responsibilities, both at school and at home, and I was confident it was the video games.
Over the years with my boys I have taken to telling stories about another child that is “just like my child” and simply, by changing the names, I’ve been able to send home a message previously ignored. They’re not only able to enjoy hearing me tell a story but it gives me a chance to give them food for thought. In my house, you never hear no to a “Seth” story, a kid that just happens to be just like my 12yr. old.
The other evening at bedtime we were having a rather difficult time with my son. We faced resistance, attitude and the ever-powerful obsession with the Xbox. All he wanted to do was get online and play with his friends. We were struggling. One of my least favorite things!. So as the evening quieted down and my 12yr. old got comfy in his bed I decided this is a perfect time to tell a Seth story. I settled down into the red Bunji chair in his room opposite his bed and started Seth’s story which went something like this…
…”Once upon a time there was a young man named Seth. Now Seth was a smart young man, inquisitive and full of curiosity. He was handsome and fun, had a great sense of humor and was a very cool kid overall, just like you! (This got a smile out of my 12yr. old. He always loved hearing when Seth was just like him.)
Seth was a pretty good student – he was very, very capable and had a great memory so school came pretty easily to him. He didn’t need to study very much but he also didn’t necessarily always get the grades he could since he wasn’t very into school. It was boring and long. Seth’s mind was often on other things, maybe video games. Truth was if he put a little more effort into his school work he’d have amazing grades.
So along Seth went, up through middle school, into high school and then off to college. He’d done all right in school, kept on top of his schoolwork and always managed to find time to play video games, alone and online with his friends. He got into a decent college and was now in his junior year and on the verge of landing an amazing internship with the Lead Engineering Firm in the country. They had offices on both the east and west coasts and currently had an opening in New York City. Seth was their top candidate and had one more round of interviews to go with senior management and the owner of the company. You see Seth always had a quick mind and was really very good at understanding how things worked and fit together. From a pretty young age he’d thought engineering was for him. He thought it would be super cool, just like you! (Another smile.)
Seth’s interview was on a Thurs at 2:00pm. He had early classes that day that left him more than enough time to get into the city for his meetings. Seth liked being prepared but often forgot things, as he frequently felt distracted. On Wednesday he realized “oh no, I don’t have a suit for tomorrow!” Seth always got well made suits. His mom took him to this great tailor who always did an amazing job. His mom always helped him with stuff like that. She was always there – listening, understanding, supporting – she believed in him and well, just seemed to get it. But he’d forgotten his suit! He felt so confident in his perfectly fitted suits. Darn! So Seth ran to the Men’s Shop and got a suit off the rack. The tailor in the store made some adjustments to have it fit better. It wasn’t like his “mom” suits but it would have to do.
The next morning as Seth got ready for class his friend Andrew called and said “Seth! OMG – the new Grand Theft Auto 45 is out and it has all these new features and upgrades! It’s insane man – you have come over after class and play with me! It’s friggin’ awesome!” Seth was jazzed. He couldn’t wait to see the game. This was going to be so cool. Straight after class Seth ran over to Andrew’s place and they played and played and played.
At 3:00 Seth’s phone rang. When he looked at the caller ID his heart stopped. It was his contact from the Lead Engineering Firm. He paused for a moment and anxiously answered. His contact excitedly said “Seth , where are you!? You were supposed to be here an hour ago!” Seth felt like a fool. He knew how amazing this opportunity was and couldn’t believe he’d forgotten. How could he forget something so important? Seth thought, for a moment, about lying but dismissed the thought. It just wasn’t who he was. He replied, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. I got caught up with some technology and honestly, I completely forgot about my interview. I really want the internship – it’s really important to me.” His contact replied, “You know I understand, I like my technology too but I just don’t know that I’m going to be able to get you another appointment…I’ll see what I can do. If I’m able to schedule something else, I’ll give you a call. Otherwise I just don’t know…” Seth thanked him and reiterated how much he wanted the opportunity and said goodbye. He couldn’t believe he let this happen.
That night he met his friends at the pub for a beer. He sat quietly at the table with his buddies, nursing his beer, distracted and lost in thought. In the background he heard shouts of laughter and tidbits of sentences about the new video game and what else was coming out but Seth didn’t chime in. All he could think about was his missed interview.
Seth hoped to hear from his contact the next day but there was no call. He went home for the weekend to see his family and to just be at home. Although he remained preoccupied, he always felt better around his parents. Nothing got past his mom though. She was always so tuned into him. She asked him what was wrong and he told her the whole story. She nodded understandingly, acknowledging the power of the video games. She told Seth she believed in him and he would figure it out. Seth couldn’t help but notice how his mom always had such faith in him. It felt good.
At the end of the weekend he headed back to school. He was so hopeful for a call. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday passed. Nothing! No call. He felt disheartened. He really blew it.
Then Friday, first thing in the morning, a call came in from his contact . He told Seth he didn’t know how he had done it but he was able to get Seth another interview. The only thing was that Seth needed to be there in 1 ½ hours. Could he make it? Seth told him absolutely! This time Seth was as sharp as a tack. He took great care in putting on his suit and fixing his tie, made sure he had all his paperwork as well as multiple copies of his resume.
Seth went in for his interviews and was at his best. He nailed every meeting including the last one with the owner of the company. They were just wrapping up as the owner was telling Seth how impressed he was with him and interested in the possibility of Seth joining their team. As Seth went to stand the gentleman, with a very straight and serious face, said to him “Uh Seth I have just one more question for you. What happened to you last week?” Once again, for just a moment, Seth’s heart stopped. Should he try to lie or come up with a story? What should he say?! Then it became clear. He lifted his chin slightly, squared his shoulders and looked the gentleman right in the eye and said “Sir, I got distracted by some technology last week. I made a mistake – one that I will never make again. Being a part of the Lead Engineering Firm is where I want to be. If you give me the chance I promise to show you what I can really do.” The owner paused, weighing Seth’s word carefully. Then he too lifted his chin slightly, squared his shoulders and took Seth’s hand in a firm handshake and said, “I respect your integrity and honesty Seth. I trust this issue won’t arise again. Welcome to Lead Engineering Company. I look forward to seeing all that you will do.”
Seth couldn’t believe it had really happened! He’d done it! He’d gotten the internship he so wanted. He called his mom to share the good news. She was so proud. She knew he’d figure it out. They chatted for a bit and when she asked what he was going to do for the rest of the day, he stopped and thought for a minute. Andrew had wanted him to come over to his place to hang and play Titan Fall 27. It was brand new and supposedly had the best upgrades ever. Seth became thoughtful for a minute and then replied to his mom “You know mom, I think I’m going to go for a run. I’ve got a lot of energy and I want to clear my head a bit. I think it will feel really good. And oh yeah, Mom, I’ll be coming home this weekend again. Can we go to the tailor and get a few more suits made? I want to have them ready for when I start my new internship.” Seth’s mom smiled knowingly on the other side of the phone. She loved him so much and knew he’d find his way. She said, “Of course babe, I’ll call as soon as we hang up. Love you and see you Friday.” The End.
My 12yr. old smiled. I thought I saw a little bit of a glisten in his eyes, maybe some unshed tears as he let the story wash over him. I on the other hand had tears streaming down my cheeks! I don’t know where that story came from but I guess I had it in me and didn’t even know it.
My son snuggled into his bed. I dropped a loving kiss on his forehead as I prepared to go. I asked if he liked the story and he smiled his sweet dimple smile and nodded yes. “Love you Mom,” he said as I started to leave. I turned and looked at my sweet little man and said “I love you too babe…to infinity!”
I gently closed his door and exhausted, as I often am, padded down the hall to my bedroom with my heart filled with so much love ve for my little man of today and my young man of tomorrow.