As parents, it’s our job to encourage our children’s interests. If they’re passionate about something, we want to make it accessible to them. We give them every opportunity we possibly can to immerse themselves in it. And we’re supposed to be supportive and interested and as enthusiastic as they are.
But, like … sometimes those interests include Minecraft.
If I could just dictate what my kids liked, that’d be great. Unfortunately, though, they have these outside influences called “school” and “friends” and “the Internet” that help steer them toward things that I might be less than thrilled about. And some of those things are easy to veto – like when they come home and say, “Hey, Aiden wants to know if I can go to his house and play Grand Theft Auto because his parents let him play games that are rated ‘M’ and by the way, Mom, what’s a hooker?”
When they were toddlers I gritted my teeth and endured countless hours of the whiny-ass stylings of Caillou and Dora. The shrill voice of Elmo echoed through my dreams, and “The Wheels on the Bus” echoed through my car speakers. I fantasized about when they were older, a blissful time when their attention would turn to more tolerable things. We might even find – dare I say – some common ground. Things we could all enjoy.
But little did I know, as my children were creating macaroni art and tossing Goldfish crackers all over creation, a dude named Markus “Notch” Persson was geeking out in a basement somewhere, coming up with the game that would become the reason I once rolled my eyes hard enough to pull a neck muscle.
I have to admit – there’s no legit reason for me to veto it. It’s a decent alternative to all the mindless video games out there. It has zero references to anything anybody could get arrested for. It presents challenges, allowing kids to strategize and be creative. And if my kids would just play the game and shut up about it, we’d all be happy.
However. The children who – when prompted to tell me what they did at school, respond with nothing but, “Nothing” – are the same children who will talk about Minecraft until I marvel that they aren’t hyperventilating from overuse of breath. They will follow me around the house. They will follow me out to the mailbox. They will follow me as I backpack to the remotest regions of Kathmandu in search of a wise guru who can answer my burning question: why are my kids so obsessed with this pixelated shit?
In my defense, I have tried to not only feign interest, but to actually be interested. I’ve played the game to see if maybe I’d fall in love with it the way they have. (It only served to make me realize just how much Creepers look like blocky green penises, which now I can’t un-see.) I swear I have spent the equivalent of years trying to be attentive and not glaze over. But it’s JUST. SO. HARD.
It’s not just their incessant Minecraft-related chatter that’s the problem – it’s also the fact that it’s like a foreign language that a non-player such as myself can barely comprehend. Griefing and spawning and endermen and redstone and mobs and mods. I feel like a tourist in a foreign country where someone is trying to tell me something important, and I can burble out only the most basic words like “bathroom” and “beer.”
When they’re not playing Minecraft or talking about Minecraft, they’re watching other people play it on YouTube. (Usually it’s Stampy Longnose or The Diamond Minecart, whose British accents make their commentary only slightly less mind-numbing.) Or they’re begging for Minecraft-related merchandise. They wear Minecraft shirts, read Minecraft books, play with Minecraft figurines, beat each other with Minecraft swords, and plaster their walls with Minecraft posters. I once surrendered $35 and a kidney in exchange for a tiny little set of Minecraft Legos.
I am clearly not the only parent with this problem, seeing as “Notch” was able to purchase a $70 million, 23,000-square-foot mansion last year, complete with – get this – a candy room. I’m pretty sure one of those rooms is rightfully mine. Hint hint Notch, Mama has a sweet tooth.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my children’s enthusiasm, their passion, their eagerness to learn and explore and master the game. But cupcakes are also awesome, until you eat too many of them. Too much of anything is just … too much.
We’re moving in with Notch. That way my kids can pester someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about, while I seek out some privacy.
He has 15 bathrooms. It could happen.
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