I have an obsessive personality. If I fall for something, I fall hard. A perfect example is the way I play video games. Ask Lynnette about my the way I consumed the Knights of the Old Republic series and she will likely recall flashbacks of falling asleep to the sounds of light sabers being drawn and her future husband giggling as they tore through enemies – at 3 in the morning. Can a man get through a season of NCAA College Football in a week, on top of his responsibilities as an educator, husband, and father? Yes. Yes, he can.
This is my daughter Madison. While she may more closely resemble Lynnette physically, I think it’s pretty safe to say that she’s taken on more of my personality. She’s nostalgic, inquisitive, irking, and also has an obsessive personality.
Several weeks ago Lynnette went to watch 50 Shades of Grey with a friend. Madison and I waited for Lynnette at the Best Buy and Mad killed the time by playing a game on the iPad called Mr. Crab. Whenever we’re at Best Buy or the Apple Store, she’ll sprint to the iPad section and start playing – even though she’s got it downloaded onto her own iPad. Mr. Crab is Mad’s favorite game. It’s also the biggest source of frustration in her life outside of homework and eating anything other than candy.
Mr. Crab himself is a hat-wearing crustacean. His lone purpose in life is to jump his way to a goal at the top of a vertical structure. Along the way, Mr. Crab must navigate enemies in the form of other animals, trampolines, and precarious gaps in surface area. Mr. Crab never stops moving horizontally. It is up to the game player to time the jumps accurately.
When Madison first started playing the game, she was terrible. She would get so excited that her little finger would frantically tap the screen even if the gameplay didn’t call for a jump. As you can imagine, she had to endure the sight of Mr. Crab free-falling many times, then bear the indignity of having to make up all that ground lost on ill-timed jumps. She’s gotten better. She’s made her way through most of the easy levels of the game. I want to tell her to challenge herself with the medium levels, but that would make me a hypocrite, since I’m the guy who always played NCAA College Football on the easiest setting so I could rack up stats and decimate the competition on the scoreboard and in the earning of individual awards. “That’s no fun,” my friends would say. They were wrong.
Anyway, I don’t like to watch Mad play Mr. Crab, I love listening to her play. It’s a non-stop stream of grunts and shouts and I am positive if she were older, she’d be swearing the entire time. It’s hilarious. But the best part is that once in a while, she’ll become so frustrated that she’ll shout something like “MR. CRAB! WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING TO ME?” or “MR. CRAB! HOW COME YOU’RE NOT DOING WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO?”
That’s when I’ll say something like “Is it frustrating when you tell Mr. Crab to do something and he doesn’t do it?” “ARRRRAAGGGHHH!!!! YES!!!!!” she’ll shout. “I know,” I’ll say. “Because I have a friend just like Mr. Crab, and sometimes she doesn’t do what I tell her to do and I get super-mad about it.” “I KNOW YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ME, DAD!” Mad will shout. But then, since she’s young and struggles to multi-task, Mr. Crab will fall from such lofty heights. “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO, DAD!” Madison will shout. “Well, maybe if Mr. Crab just did what you asked him the first time, you wouldn’t have to yell at him,” I’ll say. “OK DAD,” she’ll say flatly.
She understands the metaphor, but I don’t think she understands the lesson because last night I had to tell her to shower three times before she got undressed. But then she started prancing around the living room nakes and I had to tell her two more times. Parenthood is the worst video game ever. And also the best.