It may just be because I am an adult that I think the way that I do. It makes me bonkers sometimes that I act the way that I do because of adulthood. But how much can I do to change it? I am expected to act the way I do to keep things going. I act the way I do to keep up with expectations in work and in society. It would be good, surely, to be free from such worries but that day is yet to come.
I realise now that growing up is a pain in the a$$. When I was at Matthew’s age, I was already expected to act more “mature”. I guess that is why I had been expecting the same from Matthew. Maybe I am expecting too much, or maybe I should expect something else altogether. Matthew is destined for greatness. I feel that. I just hope that I am not hindering his potential.
In this day and age of digital freedom, we read and we watch all sorts of advice from “experts” in the field of parenting and what not. Well, I can tell you right now, I’m no expert at fatherhood. It is more complicated than I had originally thought. So complicated in fact that I would be willing to get paid as a guinea-pig to make a scientific study out of it. Tough though, that it won’t be happening anytime soon. Truth of the matter is that these advices are generic and generalised. While some parenting advice that I followed worked, most of them didn’t. I had to improvise, and that’s where things turn. Better or worse is up to you, but yes, that’s where it turns.
I won’t solicit advise that isn’t wanted, so I’m just going to say out loud what I have learned so far. It turns out, Matthew is a kid who doesn’t want to grow up. He can’t sleep without his mum beside him and at least one of his plush toys. He doesn’t listen to what we ask him to do but he understands what we tell him. He will clean up his stuff when you ask him to, but only after a few hours have passed and you have told him to do it at least a dozen times. He hates math. He hates it so much that the mere mention of the word puts him in a berserker mode. Moreso if you add the word homework to the word math. Eventually he will answer the worksheets or homework sheets, but like cleaning up, only after you have told him to do it twenty-five times and sometimes only after you have lost your voice telling him off for the umpteenth time.
In my time, that would have been unacceptable. And maybe it still is to some parents today. But since Matthew is different, this is how it is at the moment. We have tried to make changes, but so far, things either go from worst to frustratingly worst. If there was a word that was worse than worst, that would be it. I am an adult, and that is how I feel about it. And when you ask Matthew how he feels about it, he reciprocates with roughly the same frustration as mine. So I think that somewhere between his frustrationa nd mine is a compromise that all of us can be happy with. What that compromise is, I have no idea yet.
Both Matthew and myself love watching Adventure Time with Finn and Jake. Similar to how we felt when Spongebob Squarepants aired some years back, Adventure Time wasn’t a cartoon. It was a lifestyle. But I don’t think that everyone saw it like we did. It was a hit, for whatever reason that people watched it for, Finn and Jake became household names (Peppermint Butler, Princess Bubblegum, Gunter and the rest came to as well). Adventure Time brought to life most of our fantasy adventures that were stuck in our head or at least made it as real as a Saturday morning cartoon can. It is still a great show until now, but what could be better than a Finn and Jake adventure?
We had never heard of the game Munchkin until recently. We saw it at different stores and we were curious, but our curiosity never went beyond our thoughts. That ended (thankfully) when Munchkin mashed with Adventure Time and mum got the game for us last Christmas.
Munchkin, based on what the box says, is a role-playing game that is dealt with cards. It’s old school simplicity makes it quite easy to pick up and play. Some elements of the game can be attributed to Dungeons and Dragons (but really, what role-playing game isn’t?), but is nowhere near as complicated as AD&D.
Mashed up with Adventure Time characters and basically the land of Ooo, it became even more visible to those not into the RPG thing. So what’s better than an adventure with Finn and Jake? Well, this is. Because we get to be in the adventure as Finn, Jake, heck even as Marceline.
When we got the game, we played for hours on end. It is such an enjoyable game that we have become nerds all of a sudden. It’s cool. And we still play an hour or two whenever we get the chance. It proved to me that it wasn’t just a novelty that wears off, rather, it is that part of us that wants to go on an adventure. So, fancy a game of Munchkin?
Matthew had been a lucky little man since Christmas. He had been having the time of his life by not having to do homework and schoolwork. His play time had been limited to two hours on-screen and he could practically play whatever he wanted forthe rest of the day. He got small things when we went out both from me and his mum and his grandparents as well. But he dropped the ball on grandma and grandpa when he said: “Mamu, Papu, I want a BB-8 for Christmas!”
For those living under a rock (my parents partly included), BB-8 happens to be the biggest character toy for the Star Wars franchise in 2015. BB-8 replaced R2-D2 as the perennial droid for Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens. We sent a photo to them before they flew to Singapore (to check if they could bring one over). We had convinced Matthew to be content with the Hasbro version of BB-8 which was cheaper than the more premium Sphero version. Of course, that didn’t stop him from wishing for the Sphero BB-8 once in a while. In the end, he didn’t get the Sphero BB-8 for Christmas. Neither did he get the Hasbro BB-8 because it had gone out of stock as a TRU exclusive item. What he did get is money enough to buy the Hasbro BB-8 if ever we see one again. And he was ecstatic.
In the middle of all the commotion, we also convinced Matthew that if he really wanted the Sphero BB-8, he could save up for the rest of what he needed. He agreed, and for every day after Christmas, he asked to get paid for chores and he put away money instead of asking to buy a toy. It was slow and he wasn’t getting near his goal fast enough. But we persevered.
January 1 came. New Year’s Day. We went out to light some sparklers to welcome 2016. We smelled like gun powder (well, smoke, really) when we went back up, but we were happy. As we were about to sleep though, I noticed a foul smell in the house. Sniffing around (not really a good idea when you smell something foul), I found our hamster motionless in her cage. I don’t know since what time she had been dead (the stink suggested she was dead for quite a while), but our beloved Agnes left us that day. It took a long time to console Matthew after the sad news (a very long time). But it had been inevitable. She had been a happy pet for more than two years, the expected lifespan of a typical hamster. But I guess it’s not the years but the memories that we had together that made us all sad about her passing. Her funeral had been short, but we had to say our goodbyes.
In order to lift up his mood the next day, we told Matthew that we would go out and try looking for his Sphero BB-8. Yes, he managed to get enough to buy himself one (Mamu and Papu helped by giving him a New Year’s present as well). Of course he agreed to go and we went looking for the droid. We found the droid in Jakku and took him home. At the end of the day, the little man was happy and Agnes has said goodbye.
Two Thousand and Sixteen. That is the year that we are at now. Matthew turned ten just before the new year came in and we are now in talks on how to make this year better than the last.
I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions when I accepted the fact that I couldn’t really be bothered to do them anyway. So that was probably sometime in the last two decades.
Matthew on the other hand is just getting into grips about change and how it will affect him and the people around him. This year, this is what he wishes for:
“I wish I will be less grumpy and not be easily distracted when I do my homework”
I believe that is achievable. I really hope that he achieves it and makes the effort for it. It is a new year. We leave behind yesterday because that has passed, today is something we can change and tomorrow is the future we can make. Let’s make the world a better place (or at the very least be more pleasant people).