Friday, September 30, 2011

The Game, Passages, and ...

My son, seven, got his first serious game machine, a hand-me-down PS2, last weekend. If That isn't a sentence rife with potential for several different blog posts and probably a short story or three, well, I just don't know if a person, no wait - a parent could call themselves a writer.

It brings up parenting issues about values, socioeconomics, Rites of Passage, (I promise I'll stop using capitalization for emphasis soon, I'm coming off of it gradually, because quitting cold turkey would be Traumatic)

Where was I? Right then - PS2 - 7yo(autistic spectrum remember) - Rites of Passage now - value judgments and socioeconomic implications and traumas to be dealt with later - got it.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, nice neighbor dropped off his old PlayStation 2 last weekend, and of course A-Boy was thrilled, just thrrrrilllled I tell you! My first thought was "And so it begins". My second thought was along the lines of perhaps now he'll be more likely to be content on his own a bit and not be requiring direct, active attention seemingly all the time. I know, I'm a horrible parent. Sometimes, even when my child is awake and around, I just want to concentrate on something not involving him, or his repetitive large/fast movements and sounds. Something like reading or writing or even, Heaven forbid, watching a movie and actually hearing all the dialog. There, I said it, send me to horrible parent Hell.

Well that has not been the case. It turns out that playing video games is just not as fun by one's self. I've been captured and drug upstairs to the room with the thing. I have been forced to play video games. And occasionally, just occasionally, it's been OK. More than Ok. Other times, not so much. Not surprisingly, I suck at pretty much any video game that involves speed and control. Yeah, all of them. But it's not about me, right? Right.

About A-Boy and the Game console, I see that it's a modern rite of passage. Even if his is a second hand less than current example of the game maker's art and alchemy. He's a big boy now. He has his own game machine. He can invite his friends over to play and have something they know, something that makes him part of the group.

Getting the training wheels off his bike was a rite of passage that I could recognize, could remember and relate to from my own childhood. That one has been around for many years, a well known passage I'm sure recognized world over. It's almost as integral a part of growing up human as walking is.

This video game as rite of passage thing though, I've got no reference for that. Never been a video game guy and when I was A-Boy's age they hadn't invented Pong, and no one new who Atari was. Yes, I'm that old. And here's another one coming up, his own phone. No, I'm not buying a seven year old a cell phone, but I anticipate that it won't be very many more years before a cell phone will be a practical necessity for him. Will his first phone be a smart phone? Or, perhaps it will be one of the emerging pad/phone/game/video production hybrids that are pretty much here or right around the corner, waiting for a release date. How would I know, I'm a dinosaur!

So what have I learned here? Um....Oh, I know! Pick me! Pick me! What I've learned on a real, visceral level, that I only could have theorized before on a rational, hypothetical level, is that our children will have, are having, an often very different set of Rites of Passage than we had. And I''ve learned that not only will I not have had some of those experiences as a child, I can't even partake in the activities, the languages, or the mindsets involved in them now. That makes me kind of sad, but it's not like the same thing didn't happen to our parents. First-time things we did, not realizing they even were rites of passage, became those for us, and our parents may not have even known it, let alone been able to witness and partake in them.

I realize that many of you probably already experienced this. But it was a "Wow, look at that weird thing happening" moment for me, so of course I had to write about it.

So, have you noticed any important rites of passage your children or their children have had that are part of the new?