Thursday, November 10, 2011
Now, you're probably thinking, the mother of an 11 year old should not even have Call of Duty on her radar screen. And you would be right, should not being the operative words. However, a lot of us do.
This is not because we like C.O.D., or want our children playing it. (And for the record, Benjy does not play it -- now.) But you're fighting a losing battle when you've got a kid who loves video games (and how many Aspies do not love video games?) and most of his classmates are playing games like C.O.D. Add to the soup a large dollop of loneliness and the longing to be accepted, and you've got your recipe for underage carnage.
What Ben said to me when he was in fifth grade, was: No one will talk to me, I have no friends. I'm so different than everyone else. If you'd let me play Call of Duty, at least they'd talk to me, and I'd know how to talk to them.
Well. What does a mother say to that? Was it manipulation? Maybe, a bit. But I checked with the school guidance counselor.
"Are they REALLY playing COD?" I asked indredulously.
"Oh, yeah. Benjy's not making it up."
Okay, then. I took a deep breath and I bought him Call of Duty. I hated myself for it. I hated that he was going to spend his time blowing people to smithereens (virtually, of course). And yet, I hated his loneliness even more, I hated that those kids looked right through him, when they weren't actively mean to him. It killed me that he was always alone.
Was I proud of myself? No. But I simply did not see a better solution. As it turned out, all he gained from the C.O.D experience was a great deal of anguish (those men and boys on COD are as cruel as they come). No friends, except the people he considered his "friends" -- the ones who weren't quite so cruel -- and who were probably forty-year-old men holed up in their parents' basements.
So the laptop Benjy was using for gaming came down with a mysterious ailment and had to go to the computer hospital. This caused untold tears and anguish. But it also eased his anxiety, his agitation, to be released from that toxic world.
I think what helps me to stay strong now, and resist the C.O.D. appeals, is that playing it did not improve Ben's social life. All it did was to drag him down. And yet, I don't blame myself for once saying yes. His isolation and loneliness were a terrible burden to him, and heartbreaking to Lars, Saskia, and me. It was worth a try. I would try anything, once.
The good news is, Benjy is happier than I have seen him in years. I attribute it to the Joy School. Finding the right place for Ben was the best thing we have ever done.
Does your boy (or girl) play C.O.D.? Tell me what your experience has been like!