Life with kids is hard.
You endure the morning commute, slog your way through work, and slow-motion dodge the traffic all the way home.
And what’s waiting for you there?
Hellions. Screaming, jumping, unreasonably happy to see you hellions.
So you have to hang out with them, make them feel loved and wanted until you can drop their sorry butts into bed.
Which takes an additional fifteen minutes because they expect you to hug them.
And kiss them.
And read to them.
Read to them! At night!
And then, once you’ve got the writhing monsters tucked in tight enough that it’ll take till morning for them to work their way loose, then the real work begins.
Laundry. Toy cleanup. Dish washing. Spousal attention paying.
This leaves very little time for Daddy to do what he wants.
However, if my kids are any indicator, there is a sliver of hope.
Recently, I introduced my kids to computer games.
They became obsessed. To the point that getting home from work, they’d run to the door demanding I help them get to the next level.
At first, the Missus and I thought this obsession meant we’d made a mistake.
The progression of their addiction only reinforced this concern.
The kiddos started running around the house, talking like this:
“Level 8! We’re at Level 8!”
“There are jumping cannonballs in the living room! Cannonballs!”
“Where’s Alex? Where’s Alex the Alligator now?”
“Watch out for the Daddy boss monster!”
“How do we get to the next level?”
It seems that exposure to video games has caused them to completely redefine their lives and surroundings in the context of a computer game.
At first, I was alarmed.
Alarmed and troubled. Troubled by the thought that, in addition to all the precious free time these kids suck up, they were now going to require expensive therapy too.
And then I hit upon the solution. If they think life is a game, I’m gonna make that game work. For me.
“You can only complete Level 4 on a full stomach. Eat all of your spinach if you want to beat Level 4. Mmm, yummy! Well done!”
“The only way past Level 5 is to brush your teeth. You have to get rid of that spinach somehow.”
“Very good! You’re at Level 6. Did you want to get to Level 7? To do that, you have to put away your toys. This is a hidden object game. You have to hide your toys in the toy box.”
“Oh no, you dropped the bowl you were drying and it broke. Back to the start of Level 7 with you! Stop crying! It’s just a game, dammit! If you keep it up, I’ll give you a real reason to cry!”
“Level 8 is the Festering Swamp Level. The only way out is to clean the clogged toilet. Put on these rubber gloves. The plunger is behind the toilet. That’s it. You know what to do from there.”
“Good job, kiddos, you made it to Level 9. How to get to Level 10? Simple. First, put the dirty clothes in the washing machine. No, not just your clothes. Mommy and Daddy’s clothes too while you’re at it.
“Then you add detergent and start the machine. Go on, you can do it.
“What are you whining about? Can’t I get a /moment’s/ peace around here? You can’t reach? Do I have to do /everything/ around here? Level 10 isn’t supposed to be easy. You have to solve the puzzle.
“Oh for the love of… Find the stool. No, the stool. Either one, it doesn’t matter. JUST PICK ONE, DAMMIT! OK. Push it over to the washing machine, like that, yes. Now put the clothes in. No, IN the washing machine. How else will it clean them? This isn’t rocket science!
“No, no! Close the lid. CLOSE it. You’re almost four years old, how hard can this be? That’s it. Now climb on top of the lid and grab the detergent package. No, that’s fabric softener. The one with the ‘D’ on the package, you illiterate…deep breaths, find my happy place. No, MY happy place, not yours!
“There. Finally. Now get back down on the stool, no, the STOOL, you’ll fall and hurt yourself climbing down the side. Yes, there. Geez. Now open the lid again. I know it was open and you just closed it, open it again. Trust me. JUST OPEN IT!
“There, see, that wasn’t so hard. Now put the detergent in, close the lid, don’t argue about opening and closing, just do it. No, DON’T GET INSIDE! You have to stay outside! Because the washing machine is for clothes only! To clean them! No. Because I SAID SO!
“No, I’m not showing you how to do this again. Weren’t you paying attention? See, you got it, yeah! That’s it. Now hit ‘Start’. No, I can’t help you. You can do it. It’s the bright red button with the ‘S’ on it. Just press the damn button already.
“Hurray, you did it! Welcome to level 11! This is the lawn mowing level. But watch out for the octogenarian vampire lawn gnomes – they spit.”
If you hadn’t guessed, Level 10 is the Boss level.
It’s the level that makes me question my whole approach to handling their gaming addiction.
That and the trouble the kiddos have pull-starting the lawn mower. I have to admit, even I have problems with that. I’m thinking an electric mower will fix that concern.
And I have to say, doubts aside, the house is looking pretty good.
Save for all the broken glass in the kitchen. Toddlers are clumsy oafs.
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