While we are waiting for the new granddaughter to grow up, I think it is time to profile Xboy, our son, the youngest of the three.
Xboy stays with his mother during the week, but comes to us on the weekends and for a good portion of the summer. While he is with us, he thinks it is his God-given right to spend 98-percent of his time playing Xbox. The other 2-percent is to be spent leaving clothes and dishes around the house. He believes it is an act of child abuse if we do not allow this.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say here that I enjoy the Xbox as much as anyone. If I had a job that required me to play video games all day, I would willingly work overtime. Therefore, it is easy for me to allow Xboy to burn images of animated carnage onto his retinas for hours on end.
Yet, as much as I hate the idea, I do have to think like an adult sometimes. The rational part of my brain recognizes that there are important things like homework, chores, exercise, showers and the dreaded “family time.” (From our kids’ reactions, you would think that spending time with their family was the equivalent of throwing them into an arena full of lions.)
So, nearly every weekend, the following conversation inevitably occurs:
Gramps: Xboy, your mom is coming to get you at 6. You need to be ready to go by 5.
Xboy: (eyes not looking up from screen) Okay.
Gramps: Also, Granny asked you to clean the bathroom this morning. You haven’t done it yet. You need to do that immediately.
Gramps: Are you listening to me?
Gramps: The house is on fire. You’ll die if you don’t leap up and run out the back door right this second.
Gramps: (physically turning Xboy’s head so he is looking at me) Clean the bathroom now.
At this point, the situation begins to deteriorate. There is a great stomping of feet and numerous mutterings of outrage over the injustice of life in such a fascist home. I know that if I am not actually physically present to oversee the cleaning of the bathroom, it will not get done. That means I have the privilege of spending quality time with a hostile teenager who is working very hard to do the least amount of work possible.
It is likely that Granny, knowing my own fondness for the Xbox, will protest. She would tell you that I almost never forcibly pull Xboy away from his video games, and am in fact, an accomplice of his. Granny hates the Xbox. She would prefer that the console were stuffed into the garbage disposal (and she has a fondness for putting odd things in the garbage disposal, but that’s another story). So I don’t think she is an impartial witness.
But the truth is that my biggest struggles with Xboy are about his failure to do what he needs to do properly because he would rather play. There are weekends that I would like to take that boy, the child of my loins, and pound him into pudding with a potato masher. So far, I haven’t. I’ve heard they don’t give you beer in prison.
So, now, it is time for me to wrap this up so I can go home for lunch and play the...I mean, so I can fold laundry.