The other morning, out of nowhere, the kiddos burst into our bedroom, jumping up and down and screaming about playing D&D.
Now when I say morning, I mean “morning” in the sense of “weekend morning when I can sleep in until 10:30am or so without consequence” and when I say “burst into the room” I mean in the sense of “very, very much before 10:30am”.
I’m an ugly man. I need my beauty sleep. But it seems like, ever since I had kids, I keep getting uglier.
(Unlike the Missus. With these early bird spawn, I have no idea how she avoids it.)
But I digress, and will distract you from my unsightly visage by returning to the tale at hand.
My kiddos somehow learned about Dungeons & Dragons and now are extremely anxious to play it.
Like right now. Not five minutes or an hour or a day from now, but five minutes ago now.
I did not play D&D when I was a kid. Not that I didn’t want to. I found the concept intriguing.
But my friends were too cool to play D&D. Or any other role playing game.
No, they wanted to log into BBSes, use a z-modem client to allow for interrupted downloads, play chess, and use numbering schemes involving mega-Hertz and / or baud rates and nothing else.
You know, cool, non-nerdy things.
Or at least the coolest, non-nerdiest things you can do without atheletic prowess and above average hand-eye coordination.
As you can easily imagine, the trauma of being denied D&D games as a child resulted in my psyche forming a protective layer of scar tissue when it comes to all things RPG-related.
It was a purely defensive response that came about shortly after I realized playing D&D by myself just wasn’t cutting it.
Six weeks into that disastrous, sanity loss inducing solo campaign…
The long and the short of it is that I had a miserable childhood full of self-loathing, bitter disappointment, and a lot of shiny, mint-condition dice with a varying number of sides.
I was filled with as much ennui as an overworked and illiterate Parisian barista with dreams of writing the Great French Novel.
Years later, when I became a father, holding two red-faced, howling baby kiddos in my arms (they never liked it when I held them), I had two epiphanies:
One: Holy crap babies can be loud!
And two: I will never let them suffer the way I suffered when it comes to RPGs.
I vowed to raise them in a world without the siren lure of D&D.
The nurses were unimpressed with this vow.
Initially, I planned to go back in time and prevent Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson from ever meeting, let alone creating the game. But I could only figure out how to quantum leap into my own body during that time period, which was, in 1979…well, let’s just leave it at too young to dissuade anyone from becoming friends with or inventing anything.
So time travel was out. I had no choice but to go with Plan B:
Hide it from them.
While the kiddos were very young and not very mobile, it was easy to protect them from the existence of such games. But no growing kiddo is an island, so I knew I could only delay the discovery.
Inevitably, they would learn about role playing games.
Some hooligan on the school playground, furtively beckoning them over and asking if they wanted to try some GURPS. For free.
Most likely it was the seven year old next door who talks non-stop about Pokemon and My Little Pony and that the Missus and I decided was a bad influence. We banned the kiddos from hanging out with her, but they must have anyway, just to spite us. Her mom probably drove them to the local gaming store in the mall, where they have weekly gaming sessions.
WHY DID I NOT KNOW OF SUCH THINGS WHEN I WAS A KID?! So much pain could have been avoided!
But, availability of weekly mall sessions aside, I’d made up my mind about my kiddos and RPGs, and I wasn’t going to waffle or flip-flop now.
I had a plan. A beautiful plan, which I thought I’d executed flawlessly.
When the kiddos were old enough to understand and start experimenting with nerdy things, I locked them in a closet with a tablet and didn’t let them out until they’d watched all three seasons of Star Trek.
(The original series, since there is no other legitimate Star Trek and you all know it!)
I thought it worked. Not only did they avoid Star Trek, but after that just looking out the window at the night sky gave them fits.
No way they’d want to experiment with anything even remotely nerdly, no matter how “cool” or “da bomb” their friends said it was.
My plan seemed to be working. I put a basketball hoop up in our backyard, and they took to it like tuna to a can. Running, shooting, taunting each other every time they missed.
It was perfect.
Until this recent morning, when, out of nowhere, they dragged us out of bed at the crack of dawn and made us buy the Player’s Handbook 5th Edition.
(Well, wait outside the local bookstore until it opened, then buy it.)
And now I’m crying.
Crying tears of joy.
I’m having the second childhood I always wanted but never had.
For the first time since my age hit double digits, I’m happy.
Almost happier, even, than the day the kiddos were born, except I just rolled a three on my check initiative, and that kinda takes the edge off the whole thing.