So the oldest is interested in Survivor. “Why didn’t you tell me about this show?” He demands. “Why?”
Survival interests him. How would a whole bunch of strangers survive on an island? How would they overcome the challenges?
Hey, it’s the premise that sold the show 143 years ago.
We tried to tell him it was less about, you know, actual survival than people politics, forming alliances, betraying each other and ultimately kicking someone off the island. He didn’t care. He loved the idea of surviving on an island. Like I did when I was 11.
Of course in my time it was Treasure Island and or Swiss Family Robinson, but the idea still holds magic. It’s really about being free, about going beyond parental care, about getting out into the world and testing yourself.
However, there are some differences from when I dreamed of surviving on an island.
Here is the conversation as best as I can recall (cuz it was like 8am and I have only half a brain working at that time.)
“So survivor isn’t really about surviving on an island, is it?” he asks.
“They need to have to survive more.”
“It’s really a social game, not some up-gunned version of scout camp.”
“I want to watch a show where people actually have to survive.”
“I’d even want to be on that show.”
I can’t honestly imagine him skinning a deer or eating leeches for lunch.“Really?”
“Well, it’d be a whole season cuz we would need a whole season to figure it all out and we would have to learn how to grow food and build a home and find stuff to mine and I’d be in charge of transportation and build a car.”
“Wait, what? A car?”
“Sure. We’d all be assigned special tasks like there would be one person to make food and one person would dig a well and then one would be in charge of mining, and one person would be the electrician…”
“You’ve discovered how to generate electricity?”
“Not me, the electrician. Please listen.”
“Right, sorry. Go on.”
“We’d all have to work hard to make it, but if everyone did their job really well, we could totally survive.”
“And who would lead?”
“No one. We’d all do what we wanted to do and what we were good at.”
“So no one would assign daily tasks or figure out who was better at what or start taxing everyone else so they could build a bigger house just for themselves?”
“No. But I think building a car would be hard. I would need a book.”
“And a refinery for the gas.”
“Maybe. The book would have to be really big. It would have to explain in detail how to do everything.”
“That’s one big ass book.”
“I’d read it though, and follow all the instructions and everyone would have their own book.”
“And, of course, everyone would have had to have played Minecraft before.”
“Cuz they’d have to know about mining and building houses and wood and farming and stuff.”
“Zombies aren’t real.”
“Right. Sorry. Minecraft. Everyone would have to have played it…”
And thus went the conversation for 20 minutes while we walked to school. I know I won’t get these moments forever. Soon he’ll want me to stop a block or two from school, then the very idea of me coming with him will fill him with horror, then he’ll be off on some island mining for gold and making a car.
So I treasure these moments, these walks-and-talks.
Sadly I tend to infect them with all kinds of reality (like “so how much food can 1 person harvest in a day?” or “does anyone on the island have a match? or “how did Gilligan make that radio, again?”), but that doesn’t mean I don’t love having the conversations and hearing how his mind works, about what excites his imagination.
Unless it’s pouring rain, then he’s on his own.