And now, the conclusion:
We got back into the apartment with just seconds to spare. David ran straight for the bathroom, tossing his backpack off on the sofa by the door,and leaving a trail of fluttering papers and falling laundry behind him. The bathroom door slammed shut, and I winced as I then heard my wife’s half-wakened grumblings from within the bedroom. It also appeared that the door slamming shut had awakened my grandson, as a plaintive wailing rose above the garbled Spanish cursing. I sighed and retrieved the backpack, walking gingerly toward the bedroom door to see what manner of creature we had roused. As I peeked my head in through the doorway, I breathed a sigh of relief, as Flor had somehow fallen back asleep, the cursing gently dying down to be swallowed by her snores.
Upon exiting the restroom, my son inquired once again about his chances to play Xbox. Running all the options through my head, and considering the volume implications of each one, I decided that letting him play Xbox was the lesser of the evils available to him. He powered on the console, surprisingly subdued in his excitement, and scrolled through the games until he got to Ducktales. I’d gotten the remastered game as an inexpensive birthday gift for myself, but saw how much his face lit up, and told him it was a Christmas present that he could play with early.
A year and a half ago, he wouldn’t even pick up a controller. He just demanded that I play LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Batman as soon as I got home from work. I kept trying to get him to play, but he would shove the controller back into my hand, and said that he just wanted to see me play. It wasn’t until I was almost done beating LEGO Star Wars 3, that I finally got the chance to include him in the game. It was a pretty easy part, and by that, I mean that it was almost inconceivable that he could find a way to screw it up. There were many tears shed, but we finally got to the bottom of his reluctance to take up the mediocre gaming mantle from his old man: he was terrified of doing something wrong. He would rather give up an opportunity to explore the artfully rendered world of Star Wars or Batman in glorious LEGO detail than to possibly not do everything perfectly. Sweet Jesus, the boy is truly mine own son.
It took him a while to get the hang of gaming, and for the most part, I still have to do the hard stuff for him, like manage his in-game finances and beat the Bosses. but he actually wants to play now. Of course, that’s opened up another can of worms entirely, but his hand-eye coordination is improving, as well as his problem solving abilities. Now if I could only find a way to make books as interesting for him, I think I’d be all set.
Together, we powered through most of the levels, with David doing most of each map, and Daddy jumping in at dead end situations and Boss confrontations. I finally called it a day for Xbox when he began getting whiny and frustrated when we couldn’t get past the Final Boss (at least I think it’s the Final Boss. Like I said, we haven’t gotten past it). His shrieks of displeasure finally woke his mother, but it was within a half an hour of when she had to get up anyway, so I’m going to say that Operation: Oh Look, Shiny! was a resounding success. Flor seemed more relaxed at having gotten any sleep, and got ready for her third-to-last shift before taking her vacation. As she was getting ready, I made us a quick dinner, and got the Blu-Ray player set up so that we could watch The Giver. My son and I said our goodbyes as she was walking out the door, and turned away and strode inside and back into the bedroom.
It was only just past 7 when we put the movie on. I’d wrangled David into his jammies, and made the bed, and dimmed the lights. We curled up under the covers, and with a forehead smooch, I began the movie.
“Why is it in black and white?”
“Because Jonas hasn’t learned to see colors yet.”
“Can we watch something else?”
“Dude, you liked the book. What’s wrong?”
“Black and white is for old movies! I don’t wanna watch an old movie!”
“Dude, this just came out. And there’s nothing wrong with black and white movies. Just hang tight, man.”
“Okay, but if I don’t like it, can we watch another movie?”
“I’m watching this one, so if you don’t want to watch, you can go to sleep.”
My son harrumphed, but decided to keep watching. Every few minutes or so, he would ask me what was happening, or what was going to happen. To this I would inevitably respond, that not only had we read the book together, but if he would simply close his mouth and pay attention, he would have a better idea of what was going on. His curiosity mostly satisfied, he cuddled back into my arms and actually watched the movie. A short while later, during Jonas’ training, he got upset at the hunting of an elephant. “It isn’t fair,” he said, “and it really wasn’t nice at all.” I agreed with him, and said that was kind of the point.
Now that he was actually engaged with the movie, he sat up slightly, paying just a bit more attention to what was on the screen. And then, before I knew it, Jeff Bridges was flashing back to Vietnam, and I paused the movie so my son and I could have a little talk about war. He said it scared him, and he didn’t like it when people were shooting other people. He thought they shouldn’t kill anybody. He said he didn’t know what happened when we died, but if there isn’t Heaven, then when those people died, it was just really unfair because then they couldn’t be alive any more.
As the movie passed into its final act, David was alert, but tightly snuggled into me. He was tense as our protagonist raced towards the final moments, and hoped that he would get there before it was too late. The movie ended (in a far more Hollywood inspired climax), and I asked him what he thought. He didn’t think there should be Receivers of Memory. He thought that people needed to be able to love the little babies (he usually finds a way to connect a concept to feelings toward his nephew). and that people shouldn’t hurt each other. And mid-sentence, just as he was going to define for me his unified theory of everything, he just passed out. And it was only slightly past 8:30.
I never have any problems getting him to sleep on Friday nights, and he never has any issues waking up on Saturday mornings. I feel like I should lie to him, and tell him that he doesn’t have to go to school tomorrow (for every tomorrow that’s applicable), and in the morning tell him that they changed their minds, and he’s got to get ready for the day. I feel like such a Parental Unit.
Thanks for enjoying this adventure in three parts. I’ll see you all tomorrow with something a little less Peter Jackson.