Parenting is capital “D” difficult. Can I get an “Aaa-men!”. Restraint is difficult. Showing restraint as a parent is an elevated level of difficult. (I’m feeling every parent reader nodding enthusiastically in camaraderie agreement). So, when I hear and read about how evil video games are or how children shouldn’t watch television, I retaliate with a Blah! Blah! Blah! and a roll of the eyes. I’ve been a parent a few times over for 17 long, long years. Without either of these things, parenting and restraint would have been even more difficult, not to mention down right dangerous. In moderation and yes, with supervision, both are just fine and desperately needed in our abode. But just as life would have it, we slipped a bit in the supervision department. Well, more like full on, greased up, slip-n-slide. Not the first time though. It happened once before when our oldest was only 13; it was such a traumatic experience… for me! We forgot to activate the parental restrictions on our cable boxes after moving in to a new place. No biggie, what would my 13-year-old angel do with that anyway? Well, I’ve been sworn to non-bloggable secrecy on the details of that evening. But it did end with a stiff drink and lots of ugly crying…again, from me. Nonetheless we thought we learned our lesson.
Fast forward to our now 5-year-old, our sweet innocent kindergartener. Our bushy-tailed, inquisitive baby. Thanks to early onset peer pressure he was introduced and captivated very quickly by Minecraft. Sounds innocent enough. Just wait! We researched the game and it was actually rated as a beneficial, thought-provoking, building skilled game for kids. Great! Pat ourselves on the back for careful parenting. Yeah, just wait, it’s coming! Sitting at the dining table one evening last month, family time with the kids, we allowed each to play their respective games as we passed the time. A sudden BOOM, I’m displaced. The light goes dim and I’m feeling faint. My ears are bleeding in pain and horror as an F-bomb, AN F-BOMB, gets launched from across the table. (No laughing matter, I’m not overreacting here).
The small perpetrator, standing on the chair hunched over with his hands planted on the table on each side of his tablet, stared at me like a deer in headlights after hearing the gasp that apparently escaped my mouth. This boy, my angel, who had no idea what this word meant surely understood WHEN to use it. He got angry and out it spewed. My brain begins to race. A thousand thoughts in a split second. I had to react, but what was the best reaction? If I get angry he’ll have this as his future secret weapon to spear through my motherly heart. Note to self: Don’t get angry. If I laugh or shrug it off, soon he’ll join forces with the two-year old to F-bomb the house to oblivion. Do. Not. Laugh. So with a deep stern, controlled voice I ask who did he hear that word from. I’m ready for him to quickly throw a classmate under the bus. I’m ready to take that information and march up to this troublemaker of a kid, this menace and give him the needed direction that apparently he hasn’t learned in his own home.
Did you just say Hero Brian? Who’s Hero Brian?
My fawn in headlights does his best to enlighten me as to who’s tainted him. This jeopardizing mischief-maker was no kid. Bambi here points to his tablet. What? There’s cursing in Minecraft? How did we miss that? How did YOU miss that as I turn to the Stag sitting next to me and accuse him of missing this very important detail in his research. This so-called Hero Brian is actually called Herobrine but my five-year old understood it as Hero Brian. This grown man is a voice in various YouTube Minecraft tutorials, which my son has been following. Wait…you were approved to play the game, not to follow some grown potty-mouthed man hiding behind a kid’s game to create a cooler world for himself.
Who told you about YouTube tutorials? You can’t even spell complete words, how did you find a Minecraft tutorial? And he took every one of my concerns, every one of my questions and answered them in the most simplistic honest way only a five-year old can. Part of me was amazed how such a small person handled this with the grace that he did, as opposed to…well…me. I was not seduced by his cuteness though, I stayed focused, I kept my glare. Ok, fine, we didn’t punish him.
He got ONE and only one free pass, but with a long-winded and boring explanation as to why it is absolutely inappropriate and unacceptable to use that word, under ALL circumstances. We’re not idiots, we know that fear will last only until his teen years absorb his entire being. But for now, no more tutorials unless they are viewed in our presence, which is no easy task for….ME. Those voices in the background explaining every feature of the Minecraft world as they play is right up there with listening to nails dragging along a chalkboard or the constant nag of a drippy faucet.
I know what you’re
saying thinking judging; just ban the tutorials. Here’s the thing; as a concept they are quite educational for the game task at hand. They provide ideas to later use themselves. Now, he is most definitely banned from listening to what he calls Hero Brian, which interestingly enough turned out to be a unisex tag team by the names of Pat and Jen of PopularMMO’s. I don’t like to pre-judge based on the words of a rookie potty mouthed 5-year-old. So I put aside some time, took one for the team, strapped on my headphones and hit play on one of their videos. Did I already mention the nails dragging on a chalkboard? For you parents out there, because if you are childless why else would you have seen these, but did you have to sit through and endure Spy Kids 3D or Cat & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore? I’m sure these are part of some secret approved list to be used for horrifying Ludivico treatment sessions for some of the worst criminals in the world.
Moving on, I finally come across one tutorial that is definitely child friendly plus he has this awesome British accent which helps sooth me as a secondary listener. His name is Dan from TheDiamondMineCart. Score! As for Hero Brian, this name will forever be imbedded in to the core of my memory as the person, thing, character that helped my 5-year-old F-bomb his innocence to smithereens. Hopefully this will be my last slip up, but I’m not going to place any bets on that. I’m safe with cable restrictions, but now my two-year old is just starting to talk. Oh F%#*$@¥!.