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Toddlers Are Just Really Annoying Gamers

1:27:00 PM DC Daddy's Wine Time 0 Comments Category :

As I shadowed my daughter at the park, a metaphor, of sorts, coalesced in my mind. I impassively observed her flit from one thing to the next, becoming angry and then happy with the contradictory demands she made of me. The metaphor was that of a little tyrant sitting infront of the TV with a video game controller that she wouldn't let anyone else touch. Raptly intent as she absorbed herself in the game.

            But, instead of sitting infront of the TV at home, she was the ghost in the machine, playing the game in real time, from the console of her mind (like we all do). Well, she wasn't so much as playing the game as she was mindlessly pressing buttons and banging her hands on the controls. Endorphins and mayhem. She was my toddler Mario (or Luigi), running through the Mushroom Kingdom, smashing shit and stomping on animated mushrooms. The ghost in the machine is a sociopath.

            Endorphins, mayhem and destruction. 

But, without magic warp pipes and goombas.

You know what? Maybe Mario Bros isn’t the right game for this metaphor-wrapped analogy. Instead, she was more like Link (Legend of Zelda for those of you not in the know) navigating the fantastical world of Hyrule, completing quests, finding magical items and generally terrorizing chickens. 

            Except she was no hero and the park was exponentially less exciting than the magical world of Hyrule.

Though, she was still an intrepid adventurer seeking danger but at my expense. 

(I suppose preventing my toddler from killing herself is somehow akin to the continue function?).

As the parent, you aren't necessarily taken out of the game, per se, you're just not allowed to play as much. Like the friend patiently waiting for you to leave so he/she can take the controller back.

That's not quite right..

The parent is more like Link’s little fairy friend, Navi, who tries to help him and give advice. However, just as the person controlling Link tends to ignore Navi, so to does the toddler ignore you. Unless they have an “owie”. 

            I returned my attention back to my daughter and her manic, yet carefree flitting. Like a game newbie, she checks anything and everything, in case there’s something to be discovered. Curiosity is queen and no game item can be left unmolested. She needs to do it all, while simultaneously wanting me to help and not help. Be there, but go away. Where are you, daddy? No, baby does it (yes, she refers to herself in the 3rd person)! Help me, please!

I realize she can’t help it. This is the part of the game that’s full of potential discovery for her, and this repetitive process must be endured. Even though she still needs Navi to protect her.

I mean, she needs me. Whatever.    

The park had transformed around us, and we were now trapezing through a magical place where experience points and abilities could be gained. Interesting shit could be discovered. The trees, dogs, people, discarded food, etc. had all become possible high value, in-game, objects that connected to both of us in different ways. For me, things were (potentially) dangerous obstacles, germ factories or just annoyances. For her, clearly none of that. Look! A dog. Oh, a squirrel! There’s a leaf! Ahhhh!!!

But, beware the potential enemy battles with in-game characters, beasts and especially other players.

A poorly navigated adventure through the park could bring you face to face with a nasty dog, a surly squirrel, Bilingual Nanny, Some Other Goddamn Toddler and their toy, Nosy Granny, Mean Face Mom and Pile of Poop. Bilingual Nanny wasn’t much of a concern, as she was usually too busy with her cellphone. Mean Face Mom, also busy with her cellphone, only represented an existential conflict in my character, DC Daddy, head.

Oh! And, look! Our intrepid toddler has discovered some Some Other Goddamn Toddler’s toy. While DC Daddy always encourages his intrepid toddler to interact with in-game objects, characters and even other players, he personally likes to avoid the parent players. Lest he have to transform in Hulk smash Wine Time.

Uh oh…  

As most of you experienced players know, the toddler player doesn’t yet understand that while most in-game objects and characters may be fair game, other players and their shit usually aren't. Also, since language is a newly acquired skill, it’s still basic and lacking all decorum. Your toddler will have no problem offending another toddler's innate possessiveness with abrasive words like ‘mine’, ‘no’ and ‘go away’. Toddlers, who are incapable of heeding these warnings, have brought on an in-game battle.

Now, they have a chance to use several other new skills they’ve probably acquired, such as the run away option, the chase option, the highly effective slap/push option and the less effective shrill scream option.  

Invariably, these battle options trigger the fight or flight response of all the toddlers within the general vicinity. This is when the parent players, who, up to this point, have politely been keeping polite social distances from eachother, must step out of their respective "pensive bubbles" and get involved. These kinds of conflicts don't usually become full-on battles, as most parents have learned to diffuse the situation… Unless Mean Face Mom or Nosy Granny decides that you must be made an example of and uses their dark magic, unsolicited parenting advice/ criticism, on you (ironically, not specific to just parents).
             At this point, Wine Time (I also like to refer to myself in the 3rd person) usually decides he can either walk away or engage in battle. While walking away may save you from total engagement, it isn’t very fun and may leave you angry with yourself. And, haven’t you been waiting for the opportunity to get more involved in the game?
            I certainly have. 

Now, I can’t claim to know what works best in this kind of battle, but Wine Time likes to employ some relatively new skills and magics he’s learned. Like the drawn out and disinterested stare that could either be boredom looking for sympathy or barely contained Hulk rage option. This option has effectively curbed foul magic in the past. I have supplemented the stare with magical beard armor, which increases its overall effectiveness by making me seem scary and intimidating.

Sadly, magical beard armor isn't an item most moms can acquire, but that's not necessarily true for Nosy Granny.

Of course, if these two combined options don’t work, there is always the last resort options: rude verbal dismissal and expletive bomb. Rude verbal dismissal usually discourages a more protracted battle between parents. But, if it doesn't, the expletive bomb might just halt the unsolicited advice/criticism attack in its tracks.

Unfortunately, it may also get you shunned from that particular park as well. 

            Alas, even for us hardcore gamers, we have to attend to necessary biological needs and so have to back away from active play. Same for our toddlers, who never leave the game/relinquish the controller until they passes out. So, sometimes kicking and screaming, we exit the magical park realm and head home to far less exciting game: lunchtime/ naptime. A game where parent players get to guess what foods the toddler will eat instead of throwing on the floor. After which, we try to get them to sleep for a few hours so we can recharge our sanity meter for the next round...

             Keep kicking that chicken, gamers.