Wednesday, July 18, 2012

[Weekly Words on Women] Raising Kids in A Gamer Environment

I'm a mom. I've made no bones about it, but I don't talk about the act of raising my kids, or how my home life works much. I'm just not a "mommy blogger" and have no desire to be one.

BLECH. No thank you. 

The main reason is that I exist outside of my kids. I am a whole person, and not just "so-and-so'smommy". I have this crazy idea that someday they will move out and be independent people, and for them to do that, *I* have to be a person for them to learn from.

A few of my readers know that I've been in the gaming community since I was 12.
I was introduced to games and gaming by my dad, who is also a gamer. I've spent pretty much my entire years outside of childhood as a gaming person, and it's definitely influenced me in some very interesting ways.

As much as I love my dad, he really didn't do a lot of raising me. I did a lot of raising myself. Part of that was because I didn't start living with him until later in life, and he didn't know what "made me tick"; and part of it was that I was just wired that way. Being introduced to the local geek community while I was still "raising myself" meant that the guys in the gaming club had a hand in how I turned out.

I learned that just because something is make believe or fantasy doesn't mean you always get what you want. I learned that RPGs are cooperative and that learning to  collaborate is a good idea. I learned a lot about social graces and how to talk in an environment of men. I learned how to properly measure for moving miniatures.

One of these might have been cool.

I met TheDude when I was 12. I met him on the first night I went to the game club, but I wasn't really impressed. I actually didn't like him very much for the first year or so that I knew him. It happened slowly over time that we grew to be good friends. We were friends for several years and then started dating. We were both really young when we got married, and we had 2 kids before I was 24.

When it came to raising our kids, I knew raising them around gamers was going to be a given. I game. TheDude games. My brother and his wife game. My dad games. All our friends game.

Raising kids is tough enough from my perspective as a mom. When you add in the mix of some of the typical gamer traits I've seen at the table, I had a whole different level of things to consider as I taught my children about the world.

Each kid had different considerations, because they are very different people. To me, this is an obvious and important issue to keep in mind. I've seen mothers who lose sight of this in some crazy attempt to make everything "even" and "fair"; but me, I understand far too well that kids need to be treated like people; just people that aren't done growing up yet.

My son had a firm desire to game, and a strong understanding of mechanics from a very early age. Pretty much every game he has laid his hands on, he has figured out. It's the social niceties that he is lacking on at times, with subtleties and conventions moving just outside his peripheral vision.

My daughter is still unsure about gaming; and rules baffle her quite often. However, she adores the social nature of the gaming crowd, and enjoys participating in the ebb and flow of the laughter, conversations and general frivolity that our group generates.

While she's tuned into interactions she's involved in, the ones around her often elude her entirely. As a somewhat naive teenager, she often misses clues that I catch. I've had an occasion or two where someone has shown her just a little too much interest or paid attention to her a little too hard, and I've had to be vigilant on her behalf.

Teaching my kids the ins and outs of how our gaming culture works has been challenging and enlightening. I have worked hard to raise these interesting people to be good additions to any group, all while knowing that they have to do most of the work themselves.

Being a mom is fraught with all kinds of society directed baggage- and I've refused to let my being a parent mold my choices in life. That doesn't mean my moral decisions aren't guided by the influence of children in my life; it just means that like everything I do, I consider what is best for my family at the time and decide accordingly.

Taking kids to conventions, or game stores, or playing games at home- all of these choices are dependent on the parent and the kid involved; and may change according to circumstance or timing. All those choices are a lot to deal with, along with how and when to introduce my kids to the local scene.

Being a mom is uniquely a female endeavor, and being female means a lot of expectations  about motherhood. I've tried not to let too many of them get me down, but some of them are pretty heavy. The only ones that matter are the ones my husband and children set, and working to meet them is a challenge and a privilege. Sometimes being a lady is pretty neat. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wonderland Session 2

We had a great session of Wonderland this week.

I lost a player and gained one, and I think I handled this change pretty well.

The group traveled through the Void; which was terrifying and strange. The group moved through total emptiness, and then through a cemetery of souls that grabbed for them, and then through the roots of a world above them.

As the group made it to the "end" of the Void "road", they felt a bump as if they had run aground. They saw a small pinhole of light, and as they peered through the pinhole, they saw what appeared to be twilight.