At some point in WW2, the Germans knew the gig was up. They knew they’d lost. The smart ones knew after Stalingrad. Others waited until Berlin was a smoking ruin.
I kind of suspect I was in the Berlin camp with the boys.
When did we lose the war? 6:58. Exactly. None of the boys were where they said they’d be. The staff were sending down the newbies to tell us to control our children, the kids were running up and down the halls, shouting, screaming, going nuts, and disturbing the other guests.
Too much pizza and pop and excitement overwhelmed the boys and while, individually they would have been fine, collectively, they became the Huns.
Just as we were readying to track them all down, one came back. Spoiler alert. It wasn’t The Youngest.
When asked why, he said, “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“Awesome,” said the parent, smiling, “So, ah what are the others doing that, you know, might, just maybe, kind of, get them in trouble?”
Turns out, The Youngest was watching the Walking Dead.
Ok, so on one hand, it was good he was where he said he’d be (in a team-mate’s room watching TV), but not so good that they chose to watch one of the most violent, gory shows on TV (though it is a super amazing show.)
One mother went sheet white. I kid you not. This was so far from what her son should be watching. So far.
All I knew was that I had to go upstairs and find this room. It was a room full of nightmares and images that could scare a newly minted 9 year old. However, no sooner had I gotten up, than he came in to ask if he could go play mini hockey.
The answer was, as you can probably guess, “No.” Actually, I think it was “Hell, no, what were you watching upstairs in your team-mate’s room?”
“Uhm, ah, Joe, did you know that they have HBO?”
“What were you watching?”
“Errr, I, ah, we, ah, uhm… Walking Dead.”
“And are you allowed to watch those kinds of shows?”
“No.” He admitted.
It was 7:52. It was time for bed.
He had to tell his friends it was time for bed. They were not pleased. They still wanted to play, to run around, to watch more banned TV shows. It was like kid-heaven.
It was then that I realized that I’d failed as a parent. In trying to make sure he had a good time, I’d let him have too much freedom and with that freedom, he’d gone with the pack instead of making good choices. Oh, he knew what the good choices were, he just wanted to fit in, be one of the cool kids, be a part of the team, and that need defeated his common sense and proper upbringing.
I get that.
Still, we had another long chat about not always following the crowd and, God help me, I even hauled out lemming references and the whole leaping off the cliff speech. I’m not sure it made any impact. What good is some esoteric argument about lemmings compared to watching someone axe a zombie’s head?
In the end, though, his transgressions didn’t warrant me packing him up and sending him home. They did warrant better supervision so the consequence of his actions was that there would be no more unsupervised play. A parent, likely me, would be there when he watched TV or played any games.
We continued to talk even when he went to bed. He was wound up and simply couldn’t sleep. We talked about important things and unimportant things. We talked about having 2 dads. We talked about why watching so much violence (or playing violent video games) can be bad at his age. We talked about how to have fun without bothering other people. We talked about his favourite video games and why Ssundee is the best youtuber in the world, a man-boy who has utterly mastered how to do a video about playing video games.
(This is Ssundee, and you don’t have to watch all 20 minutes, but it’ll give you an idea why adults hate his guy but kids love him.)
Finally, we went to sleep and I prayed that they would be worn out after 3 games tomorrow. I don’t know if I could have done another day like that without losing my sh*t and going all Red Forman on everyone.