Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Morning After the Release of Halo 3

At work yesterday I kept soliciting opinions on whether or not I should let my teenage son leave the house at 11pm to pick-up his pre-ordered copy of Halo 3 last night. The river of opinion was running firmly against but an odd thing happened. The more I heard from the entrenched “NFW” crowd the stronger my gut instinct swung towards the yea crowd. Well, maybe calling the “yea” people a crowd is a bit of an exaggeration.

Just before I left work for the day, Montana called me to add a little more pressure to my decision. Montana’s friend Peter would not be allowed to go to the game store unless Montana was with him. In fact, Peter would not even be allowed to leave the house unless Montana picked him up at the door. Apparently, I now held the fate of two boys in my hands.

Montana’s friend Peter is not just a favoured child but the only son as in ‘only child’ of Vietnamese immigrants which means he is cuddled and suffocated to the extreme. Peter can never get a cold. Sniffles and a slight fever almost always mean potentially TB. A headache may be the sign of a brain tumor. Do you see where I am going with this?

For some strange and inexplicable reason, Peter’s parents trust Montana. Montana has become the gold standard for Peter’s parents to judge all over males. This is really quite surprising given that Montana is not even close to being Vietnamese, and Peter’s parents probably know only 50 English words between the two of them. It is not like Montana has ever waxed poetically about his values, ethics or sense of life to Peter’s parents. In fact, Peter’s parents don’t even trust any of Peter’s male cousins/uncles but they implicitly trust Montana to look out for their son.

I didn’t think the idea was particularly wise and I could come with very valid reason to say NFW, but when I walked through the door I told Montana he could do it. As lame and as anal as it sounds, years ago, I consciously made a decision about the kind of children I wanted to raise. I thought long and hard about how I would go about creating the environment which would work best to produce thoughtful independent adults who would be an asset to the community in which they lived in.

I didn’t think it was particularly strange that Montana sought my permission because he knows I am both reasonable and fair-minded – he has a track record with me. He knows when I do say ‘no’; I try to do so in a way in which he can understand my rationale is just. He might not agree with my decision but he trusts I have a valid point. But more importantly; Montana has a track record with me. He doesn’t usually make outrageous demands or ask for general frivolousness.

This little midnight jaunt obviously meant a great deal to him. He has spent most of the summer getting up 5 days at week at 3am to shower, eat and get ready to walk out the door by 4am in order to be at work at 4:30am. He has never been late and he has worked a 12 hour day as hard as any grown man. He saved his money and this was to be his reward for a hard earned wage.

One of the things I believe as a parent is that if you want to raise responsible children you start by giving them responsibility. A little at a time. Otherwise don’t presume because when they reach the magical ages of 12, 14, 16, 18 years they will suddenly, via osmosis, know how to act responsibly. If Montana can work like a man, and he wants to assume the freedoms of a man; than what better way to ensure he acts like a man than to put the safety of another human being under his charge. Besides even Peter needs time off from his prison of love for good behaviour.

Last night, Montana knew he had to be home by 1:15am (at the latest). He knew he had to be bright eyed and bushytailed to get to school before 8:50am.

He left the house to arrive at Peter’s house by 11:00pm. By 12:15am, Montana had managed to pick up his Halo 3 Special Edition, walked Peter to his apartment door, got home and played a few rounds of Halo 3 so that when his 1:15am curfew came round he was found safely in his bed. And all is well in our world.

PS - HALO 3 has become a religious gaming experience for me and totally outclasses HALO 1 & 2.


Bruce Gottfred said...

Sounds like you made the right choice. I know from my experience as a geeky young male (though probably half the weight of your son at 14) that these kinds of events are vitally important and memorable. That you were involved in the decision, took an interest, and finally trusted him will always be remembered.

My wife has a revulsion towards modern kid culture and almost always follows her instinctive NO! towards these kinds of things. Though my kids are just beginning to drink from that well, she's starting to understand that she can't keep them away from it completely. But still she tries.

Yesterday, I let them rent a Power Rangers DVD while Mama was at work. Apparently, this is the show that all the cool five-year-olds follow. The ecstasy they had in being allowed to watch it -- and not in French either! -- was contagious.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

I like to think I made the right choice, and oddly enough, both boys are mighty solicitious of my opinion on literally everything the last few days...

I loved Power Rangers…we use to watch it all the time. Then the children and I would go all around the housing fighting imaginary Putties with our Power Ranger special karate skills. The Last Amazon was Pink Ranger, I was Yellow, Montana Black and Isaiah was Green Ranger.

I think I initially had a kind of revulsion towards modern kid culture too. It was their Father who was always telling me to relax and chill... – let them have their fun. Actually, he kept me sane in the early years by reminding me that it was up to us, as parents, to put all these impressions & experiences into perspective for them.

Even now, when I feel the stress building, I stop and try to think what he would say to me....remembering his pleas for calm somehow still manages to still keep me sane. I came to the conclusion mothers are for details and fathers are for the big picture.

Steve B said...

Good on ya! I know it's a struggle between letting your kids be kids, while giving them opportunities to be responsible, and yet you want to be so protective.

We just recently moved, and the kids (7 & 10) wanted to use the boxcutter to open the boxes and cut down the empty ones. My first instinct was NFW are you using a razor knife.

Then I realized they won't ever learn to handle sharp stuff if I don't teach them and let them try.

So I did, and they did, and nobody lost a finger.

Neo Conservative said...

my son is 11 now and if, at 14, he's still asking for my blessing on stuff like this... i'll consider myself a successful parent.

at some point they'll just do stuff themselves without asking and sometimes without thinking... and you better pray you've inculcated the values and smarts that make them choose wisely.

it was a test... and he passed with flying colours.