I like to tell my son, “Ask for what you want.” I’m also known to say following an unhappy tone from him, “Or you could say, Mommy, could I have…?” or “You know what would be great? …” or “How about this?”
I was really proud of Jake (my son) this week. It was his birthday on 8-8. He turned 14 and I was impressed this year that he really asked for what he wanted.
A few weeks ago, I asked Jake what do you want for your birthday this year? Would you like a party? He didn’t want a party. He said he just wanted to invite his pals Owen and Noah over to play video games and spend the night. I’m not a huge fan of video games so I was kind of impressed he came out with that as a wish. Ok, I said. Sounds reasonable. I think we can manage that. He reminded me all day ok? Hmmm. Ok, I said.
That seemed pretty easy. But as the day came closer, my husband and I started thinking what should we buy him as a present. So we asked him, what would you like as a gift? He thought about it and replied, I’d like to play Fortnite from NOW On. Oh! You probably know Fortnite eh? It’s a very popular video game that all the kids/people are playing. Everyone loves it! And seemingly are obsessed with it. It really is more closely related to a phenomenon than just a video game but anyway… If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it, k?
The game came out last year and “everyone” was loving it. All the kids and adults too were playing it and talking about it and doing dance moves from it! It was a thing. The premise of the game from my perspective was that there were teams of players and they tried to shoot the other players – last ones WIN! From the start I had a negative response to people shooting people. Hello! Hello! Anyone else agree with me? I looked around; NOPE. Ugh. I struggled with Jake playing Fortnite. I told my son and my husband I was really not a fan of this game. Yes, they knew! I limited my son’s playtime and encouraged him to play other games. He would try to play other games. I was torn about it because I didn’t want him to feel isolated as everyone was talking about it – even adults. So, I tried to bear it for a while. My main gripe was that he was 13 and shooting at another “person” for a game.
My husband told me they are cartoon people. They don’t look real. I was not convinced. It bothered me. I didn’t want Jake to get used to pulling the trigger and aiming at a person for fun. That was my thing not as Jake would always say, Mom, I’m not going to go out and kill people. I know was my response. I just don’t want the idea of shooting a person to NOT be a thing. It’s a THING!
The Fortnite phenom disturbed me. And after a while, I decided I didn’t want my 13 year old playing this game anymore. At all. Yeah! If you’re wondering if this was hard for me, it was. But in my gut, I just felt like this was the right thing to do and so it was. No more Fortnite in our home. I have to admit, my son did not bitch too much about it though I knew he was clearly unhappy about it. He played a similar zombie game in lieu of Fortnite. It wasn’t quite the same I know…
Fast forward 4 months.
Jake’s request for his birthday gift was – to be able to play Fortnite…
Wow! He didn’t want anything else. He just wanted to be able to play Fortnite. Oh my goodness. He learned how to do the Napolean Dynamite and Carlton from Fresh Prince dance from this game. He loved buying funny outfits on this game which is otherwise free. My husband raves about the teamwork building involved in playing the game and how it requires a lot of strategy.
Hmmmmm. I had to think about it. He’s getting older. He clearly knows I’m not a fan of guns and we’ve had the opportunity to talk extensively about guns because of the ban and pre-ban of Fortnite. In fact, a month ago, along the same lines of asking for what he wants, I asked him to write me a proposal about why he should be able to play Fortnite since he would ask me if he could start playing now. Now? Now? Every so often. No, he did not want to write the proposal and complained about that but my husband convinced him that it was his chance to state his case. And he did. It was nicely written followed with research that shooting games do not lead to violence. I am aware of this already but I wasn’t quite convinced.
It might have been the fact that it was the only thing Jake asked for for his birthday and it may also be that I think he’s more ready or that I believe our discussions have been beneficial and now’s the perfect time but I did say Yes. My yes included letting Jake play Fortnite for 5 hours on his birthday and a total of 3 hours each week for the rest of August unless otherwise agreed upon. I told him we would reconvene and discuss our terms for the future in September and the future as I see how August plays out.
I have to tell you, I am most proud that Jake asked for EXACTLY what he wanted. I know he must have had concerns that I might say NO but you know what? He asked anyway. And I would encourage us all to do the same. We can’t worry about if the answer is No. We need to go forward in hopes of a yes. He didn’t get a Yes to his exact ask but it was a yes and… an opportunity for both of us.
This year he also asked to be taken to Soup Plantation instead of a fancy dinner with my husband and me. Inside I cringed a little (shhh) but we went and you know what ? They have really good gluten free coconut muffins. 🙂
If you don’t ask, you don’t know…
Jake could still NOT be playing Fortnite right now.
What is it that you’d like to ask for?