Video Showdown: A Mother and Son Bond
By Kris Decker
I get a little nostalgic for Candyland these days. Used to be when I
played a game with my son Ryan, knowing my colors and how to count to
ten were the extent to which my intellect was challenged. Now we play
video games, and suddenly, the mental acuity I employed to count dots
on a die or move a game piece around a board just isn’t cutting it anymore.
Now, I think I can lay claim to a reasonable amount of intelligence:
I’ve got a college degree, I have a good handle on the way the Electoral
College works and I can even program an automatic drip coffee maker. But
when it comes to playing video games, I can’t tell a Hedgehog from a Bandicoot.
Still, I persevere because my son is so fascinated with these games.
Besides, if I didn’t at least feign interest, I fear I wouldn’t have another
conversation with him until he’s 35. So we play, but not before I plead
with him, “If you love mommy, you’ll be kind!” He just grins, leaving
me feeling like Woody Allen facing a kickboxing match with Chow Yun-Fat.
Just yesterday, he slipped Sonic Hedgehog into the GameCube,
and our characters commenced skateboarding through animated city streets.
As Ryan’s character, Shadow, zoomed through traffic, skyrocketed over
jumps and zipped through loop-de-loops like an air force test pilot, my
character, Sonic, crashed into parked cars, slammed into a brick wall
and flew off a bridge into a bottomless black abyss.
I blamed it on the controller. (I’ve seen fewer buttons in an airplane
cockpit.) Between the smorgasbord of commands at my fingertips and my
waning powers of retention, I was lucky to get Sonic to crawl before I
doomed him to his horrible demise.
“Let’s play something else,” I suggested after unsuccessfully trying
to resuscitate my animated alter ego.
“Okay,” Ryan said and put in Smash Bros.
But after his bounty hunter, Samus, KO’d my lovely Princess Peach 32
times in less than five minutes; I tired of getting the crap kicked out
“Do you have anything less violent?” I asked.
He thought for a moment, then grinned slyly. “Yes. I’ve got a PlayStation
game I think you can handle.”
He turned on the machine and appearing before us were four vertical lines
and something that looked like a Mitch Miller sing-along bouncing ball.
“PONG!” I exclaimed. “I can do this! I used to play this in high school.”
“I know,” he said with a condescending smile.
Of course, he beat me twenty-four games to one.
Yeah, my son thinks he’s hot stuff, but I’ll fix him. One of these days
he’s going to want a Candyland rematch, and if he thinks I’m going to
just give him double squares to King Kandy’s castle like I used to when
he was little, he’s been staring at pixels too long.
Writer's Bio: Kris Decker endures eternal Minnesota
winters by writing freelance articles, essays and features. Her two kids
(a rich source of poignant, humorous, and most happily, free material)
are the inspiration for much of her work focusing on the topics of kids,
parenting, families, individuality and creativity.