Let’s get right into it – no pulling punches.
My husband plays videogames. I’m not surprised, nor was I unaware of this fact when I fell in love with him. Much of the groundwork of our relationship was laid when we played World of Warcraft together as friends. And I will give him so very much credit; since we have been together, he has dialed back his gaming time to a fantastic degree. He still likes to play when I’m sleeping, or when I’m gone at work, but when I’m home and we’re together… we are together. There has never really been a time in the last three and a half years that I wished he would just put down his stupid game and come spend time with me.
Ronan has added a whole new function to the equation. We’ve all heard stories about those parents that stuff their kids in a closet in order to play games in peace, or that have neglected to feed their children for weeks while participating in a raid. There is no fear of that here, in this household. There is no competition between Ronan and a videogame.
There is, however, some troubling overlap. And this is where Brock and I don’t see eye to eye.
I may be a little strong-willed in my beliefs. There are certain things I hold to be true above all else, and I insist on making it so. I don’t subscribe to the school of thought on allowing my child to cry it out. I did not feed my son solid foods before his sixth month. I will nurse until he is one year old. And… I don’t think children should see violence, even before they are old enough to recognize it for what it is. I don’t know why I feel this way, I don’t even know if it’s a relevant fear. I have these images in my mind of children learning through what they see… isn’t that the point of educational television? If he can learn to count to ten in Spanish from Dora the Explorer, couldn’t he possibly learn that a sharp object can be used to stab someone and make them bleed? What do we have to gain from allowing him to learn that?
So, I instituted a rule. No violent videogames or TV shows to be played/watched/seen when Ronan is within viewing distance. I didn’t really think that it was a bad rule, and Brock didn’t really object. We’ve turned off movies that were too graphic and waited to watch them when Ronan was in bed. We’ve covered his eyes if there was a part of an episode that we thought was inappropriate. We’ve been sticking to it, and that made me happy.
Enter: Assassin’s Creed 2.
Brock had the luxury of playing the first installment of this console game while I was still pregnant, and there were no ‘rules’. Assassin’s Creed is a unique game in that there is a large amount of content that is decidedly non-violent. Much of the time in-game is spent exploring, spying, hunting treasure, and pushing the storyline forward. There are, however, large portions of the game that involve killing people; come on, now… it’s called ASSASSIN’S Creed.
Our typical scenario occurs when Brock is running around in-game, minding his own business and doing one of the many fight-free objectives. Ronan plays nearby on the floor, having little to no interest in the colors and shapes on the television screen. Suddenly, a fight breaks out in-game, and Brock is intently doing battle. There are swords and fists flying, blood is splattering, and people are yelling out in agony. Ronan immediately becomes VERY interested, and can’t peel his eyes from the screen. I look over, notice what is going on, and bring it to Brock’s attention that he’s allowing Ronan to watch digital people be killed.
This same scenario occurs several times over the course of an evening. I start to get frustrated, because I don’t think Brock takes it seriously, nor is he paying enough attention to his surroundings to notice what he is subjecting his child to. Brock gets upset because he thinks it’s my responsibility to “distract” Ronan whenever he gets into a fighting situation that I don’t want Ronan to see. He told me that he doesn’t think it’s such a big deal for Ronan to watch what’s going on, and if I’m the one that’s worried about it, I should be the one dealing with it. I feel that if he’s not attentive enough to be sure he’s not killing people while Ronan is watching, he shouldn’t be playing while Ronan is awake.
Enter: The fight.
Brock and I had our first knock-down, drag-out over this one. I don’t really know which of us is right or wrong. I don’t know how to reconcile the difference in opinion. I just know that I don’t want my kid knifing some other kid in the park, standing over him, and saying, “I live by the creed.”