Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Help, Someone's Calling, and I Can't Pick Up

I may, perhaps, be ready to entertain the idea, that there's a slight possibility, I might have a problem.

No, David, not that problem.

Nope, not that one either.

Oh alright already, so I have quite a few shortcomings.

This one's really more of a Mom addiction. Some Moms binge watch shows on Netflix. Some immerse themselves in love stories, forsaking the laundry or other chores. (I may have been guilty of this during the Twilight series). And still others take a spa day or visit a nail salon on a regular basis.

Mine is a slightly different escape from reality.

Quite a few Christmases ago, the kids got a Wii. I was quick to add Super Mario Bros to "their" game collection.  Except if they were playing it, I also had to be playing it. And if there was a level I was particularly stuck on, I kicked them off altogether so I could concentrate better.

Sadly, somewhere along the line, the Wii went kaput. And we got an Xbox.

I do not care for the Xbox.

I can't play any of the games, other than the Kinect games where your whole body controls your body on the screen. That stuff right there is brilliant.

Tate thought it was pretty cool that I had played Wii with him, so he assumed I'd also want to play Xbox.

We quickly discovered that's just not possible. I don't get it. I will never get it. 3D games where you are left to wander at your leisure but are still expected to complete certain tasks drive me bonkers.

Minecraft? Forget it.

Infinity? Not happening.

He even picked out a Disney game thinking that'd be more up my alley. Nope. I don't understand how to manipulate the controller to move around. I was always going the wrong way or running into walls. And I spent most of my time just trying to get myself turned back around in the right direction.

He would help me the best he could, "Over here, Mom. Get that star."

"What? What star? Where is it?"

"There, by the bridge. Nope, the other way. I see you. And you need to turn around."

"How are you seeing me?! I can't see you. And where's the blasted star?!"

"You can't see me because you're facing the wall."

I finally just gave up altogether. I let him down gently and explained that I just didn't get 3D games and they frustrated me too much. I can only play games that go from left to right.

He took it pretty well. "I guess 'cuz that's what you played when you were little, so that's what you're used to." Then he brightened up, "I'm going to invent a 2D game you can play Mom, and then me and you can play together."

And just like that, David became his chief gaming buddy. In fact, I think they rather enjoy retreating to their little man cave now and then.

I may have mentioned a time or 12 that I missed our Wii. And I missed Mario. So for Christmas this year, David got a Wii for the kids to give me. Thus the rekindling of my addiction.

David still prefers Xbox, which works out fine because our Wii games can only accommodate 4 players at the most. What happens in the game, stays in the game. The kids and I hoot and holler at one other and carry on if we accidentally get knocked into the lava or someone steals our power. But as soon as we shut the console off, we're back to being a civil little group of relatives for the most part.

Tate's skills have improved exceedingly. I now consider him an equal teammate. And at times, better than me. He'll sometimes sneak in when the girls are distracted elsewhere and say, "Mom, let's just me and you play so we can beat it." It didn't take us long to beat my Mario game over break.  But there's a bonus level that can only be played if you've collected all the large coins in the other levels.  So we went back and started working on those. All too soon, Christmas break was over and I had to send my little gaming buddy back to school.

That's when the first sign arose that I may have a problem. I pondered for a split second leaving the following voicemail for his school, "Good Morning, I realize it's the first day back after break, but Tate is running a little late today. See, there's this level we've been working on for awhile now, and, well, I just really need him here to help me beat it. As soon as we do, I'll run him right up.  If not today, then for sure tomorrow. Oh, and please send any missed work home with Drue. She's not very good at Mario so she should be there on time."

We've taking a hiatus from Mario Bros and have rediscovered Mario Kart. Which I guess is considered 3D, but because you're driving on a set track and not just free to venture wherever you please, I can do it. I was a little rusty at first. And the kids kept flying past me. Which is odd, considering I'm the only one of the four of us who actually knows how to drive. But I'm improving, and have no problem whatsoever leaving them in my dust and tossing a red turtle shell their way to knock them off the course entirely.

I'm beginning to realize my affection for Mario Kart has slowly taken root and is beginning to affect other areas of my life. A few weeks ago David was on his way home from Denver. I had already gotten his text saying he'd landed in KC so was a bit surprised when the Superman theme song resonated from my cell phone (his assigned ring). The kids and I were playing Mario Kart and I had raced myself into 2nd place. 2nd place! We still had about a lap and half to go and the others were coming up quickly behind me. So I kept going.

"Mom," Reese said as she sped through the course, "Daddy's calling you."

"I know. I'll call him back," I replied.

"What if it's important?" she asked, growing a little concerned.

"Well, then I'll find that out after I cross the finish line," I continued as I dodged some banana peels.

Turns out, he had stopped at the store and just wanted to know if he needed to pick up anything. Of course, he proceeded to ask what we were up to because Reese hadn't picked up her phone either. I vaguely answered that the kids and I were spending some quality time together. "You guys are playing Mario aren't you?" he deduced.

Fast forward about a week. Drue had a meeting after school so she was going to be a little later than usual. David was taking some conference calls from home, answering work emails, etc. I normally  keep the front door unlocked in the afternoons when I'm home because the kids each trickle in at different times. I don't know if he thought Drue had already come home or what, but he locked the front door. Tate and I were racing through a course when the doorbell rang.

"What in the world? Who's at the door?" I hollered. "It's freezing outside!"

"I don't know. It could be Drue," Tate offered, never looking away from the TV screen.

She rang again, shimmied the doorknob, then started knocking. George was going c-r-a-z-y and David was on a call in the basement.

So I yelled, "Pause it! Pause it!" and raced to the door. I hope I greeted her with a warm hug and a "How was your day?" but who can really remember that far back?

I do remember when I returned to the couch, Tate hadn't paused the game in a timely enough manner and I was now in last place with no hope of catching up. I reviewed our no locked door policy in-depth with David later that evening.

Not all my behaviors have a negative impact, however, when it comes to my Mom addiction. Yes, I may have missed a phone call (or three) and let my daughter stand outside a bit longer than necessary, but there are also positives. Knowing that the kids will be getting home by a certain time each day, I'm motivated to get my errands and housework done even earlier so I'll be available should they want to take a spin around the ol' racetrack. I use my crock pot a lot, especially on nights they have practices, so each person can dish out their grub when they get home or before they leave.  But it also comes in handy on the rare nights they don't have practices. I can prepare the meal during the day and plop it in early so I won't have to be watching pots boil and peeling potatoes during prime gaming hours after school.

Never fear, homework is being completed, actual books are getting read, sports activities are continuing. But I do look forward to little breaks from time to time as we retreat into Mario World. Oh, and if you're planning on calling me, kindly do so before 4pm.

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