Fun and games: This is how you level up in parenting
In this week’s Chubby Hubby, Portly Papa column, Aun Koh discusses the importance of learning by heart the names of Disney princesses and getting up to speed with Minecraft.
Do you know the difference between Scorpi, Footi, and Hoogi? Have you any idea where Avalor is? Do you know how to get a diamond sword?
If like me, these questions leave you clueless, I welcome you to the wonderful world of parenting.
In an age where our kids are inundated with 360 degree universes – think videos, toys, books, etc – all crafted to capture their attention and then their parents’ hard-earned cash, it can be difficult to keep track of which superhero, robot, princess, furry creature, monster, or other manufactured hero your little one is currently obsessed.
My [older] son is currently enraptured with Minecraft, Mixels, Pokemon, and his own imaginary world (which as you might imagine, is always changing). His best bud is also a Minecraft fan. The two of them have been building things and playing together whenever they are given synchronized access to their iPads.
I thought that Minecraft was just a game – and one that I didn’t and still don’t quite understand. I’m surprised to discover [from T1’s Kindle] the sheer volume of written works based around Minecraft – Everything from handbooks and guides to fiction with titles like Diary Of A Minecraft Zombie and Diary Of Steve The Noob. The fact that there are already 44 Steve The Noob books with no end in sight is astounding.
I’m also embarrassed to admit that I have yet to read any of these books. When T1 first started reading, my wife and I had aspirations to read whatever he was reading, just so that we could make conversation with him.
Unfortunately, the books we would like him to read and love to chat with him about have yet to appeal to him. Last year, I left a copy of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone on his desk. The book sat there for about two weeks before it magically migrated back to my bookshelf. My numerous attempt to suggest he give it a try yielded minimal results. He read a page then decided it wasn’t the book for him.
My wife and I had aspirations to read whatever he was reading, just so that we could make conversation with him.
His interest was peaked quite recently though. A family friend showed us a video of the young girl (who is a few years older than T1) receiving a wand at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. After watching that clip, he asked a ton of questions about the fascinating world of Harry Potter, to which I coolly replied, “if and when you read the books, you’ll understand.”
For some kids, like T1, they need to see some cool interactive payoff before committing the time and energy. He’s not into Stars Wars either; every time I put on one of the movies, he’d whined that it’s “not his thing” and “can we please watch something else”.
Though, I think that if I showed him one of the gazillion YouTube videos of people building lightsabers at the new Star Wars Galaxy Edge, he could eventually become interested in the series. That said, those damned lightsabers are really expensive. So maybe I’ll just leave him to his own tastes for now.
T1, when he gets into a book series, is also a voracious reader. At first, the wifey and I thought he was just skimming through the books – like how we fast forward through our favourite TV series, watching only the juicy bits. But to our surprise, our little guy is actually able to take in the most salient parts of the books that he’s whizzing through.
Which means that if I wanted to try and read something he’s also reading – in order to make that attempt to discuss it with him, the reality is that by the time I get around to reading one volume, he’d likely be four or ten volumes ahead.
I hate to cut them off because I want them to always want to come to me to share things, no matter how inane.
The amusing and often frustrating thing is that he, like most little ones, does like to share. But his way of talking about his beloved characters is usually through non-sequitors or long rambling sentences which leave our heads spinning.
In fact, both he and his little sister seem able to go on and on without taking a second breath when excited. But yet they can’t hold their breath for more than 10 seconds in a swimming class.
I hate to cut them off because I want them to always want to come to me to share things, no matter how inane. But their ramblings really make my head spin and I’ve had to say “stop” to the kids when he or she eagerly wants to tell me something.
Now, T1 is only eight years old so it’s no surprise that he mispronounces words. A few days ago, T1 was passionately telling mama about a “hybrid” robot which she misheard as a “hyper” robot. She then asked him why said robot was so active and that left him mystified.
Similarly, at dinner recently, T2 told us about a new (to her) princess that she had “discovered”. She was certain that we have also never heard of her. The way she said her name led us to think that the princess was Eleanor of Abalone.
But as you know, there’s an uber-popular cartoon starring a mutant and possibly radioactive, walking, talking sponge from the Bikini Atoll (the site of 23 nuclear tests by the United States).
So maybe there is a princess of abalone. Maybe she’s designed to appeal to Chinese children, and her ladies-in-waiting were Bianca of Bird’s Nest, Sarah of Sea Cucumber, and Suzanne of Shark’s Fin. Her prince charming might be George of Jellied Pig’s Ear and her sworn enemy Barbara of the Black Moss.
Once we went down this route, there was no turning back. T1 and I had a blast imagining the characters in Eleanor’s realm. Of course, T2 was hardly amused. She was yelling, “Abalone!” at us repeatedly, eyes getting smaller and smaller as her temper flared.
It was only when mama intervened and searched the Web for the princess in question did she call a halt to the madness. “Elena of Avalor”, she pronounced. Then looked at me and T1, declaring us “idiots!”
I’ve become the resident Princess expert in the family.
To make up for the men in her life acting like oafs, T2 has been promised a collection of Elena of Avalor books by her mother. And I’ve been tasked to learn as much about Elena as I can.
That’s right, me.
I’ve become the resident Princess expert in the family. My wife, #galboss and feminist that she is, can’t stand a lot of the Disney princess stories, so I’m the one who has to learn as much as possible about all of these fair maidens so that T2 has someone to talk with about them. I guess it is apt punishment for being punny.
It’s hard to keep track of all the heroes, princesses and monsters. But in the same way that we once learnt the names of probably every dinosaur that ever lived, we need to keep track of these things. Because they’re important to our little ones. And no one should be more important to you than your own children.