My herd of teenagers has gathered on the couch before school, their hands attached to various electronic equipment and their booming (and sometimes cracking) voices are droning on about Pokemon or Dragon Quest or some other turn based game I just can’t get into. They’ve got five more minutes before they head out the door to catch the bus, and I’m just counting the seconds. I love ’em, but boy howdy do I get sick of the talk about this attack, or that strategy, or blah*blah *Pikachu* blah*blah.
Yep, folks. I’ve got me a passel of gamers.
They’ve started to LARP, too.
If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. We live in a very small NH town where the vast majority of kids their age are thinkin’ ’bout muddin’, huntin’, or hangin’ out with that wicked hot girl from up the way. But, they happen to have a mother that’s a geek and a nerd. I can’t count how many hours of my life have been spent playing video games and correcting grammar. Blame my dad for getting us an Atari, and my mom for being a librarian. I don’t do the RPGs, unless they’re action. My personal favorites are racers and FPSers. Those who get it, fist bump. Those who don’t, just know that my “gaming” and theirs are two totally different beasts. Meaning, my favorite video games are fun, while theirs make me WISH I was watching paint dry.
My first husband was also a gamer, one who gets into the boring stuff, too. He’s a great guy, and our split was quite possibly the friendliest in the history of break-ups. So, I can’t rip on him for much. But I WILL blame him for getting the kids into the mind-numbingly dull world of turn based role playing games. HE SCARRED THEM FOR LIFE. That bastard. My rest-of-my-life husband is definitely more toward the nerdy-geek side of things. He’s got a fancy paper proving he’s a linguist, but he also works on computer hardware. And cars. Yeah, we kind of blur the lines. My stepson’s mum is way into things like Dr. Who and Marvel (c’mon…who isn’t?!) and is very much into the modern social media world. In a nutshell, in the home and family stratosphere, our kids are utterly surrounded by all aspects of nerd and geek life.
So basically, our kids are doomed.
Electronics, gadgets, video games…that’s the gamer side of things. LARP, that just takes it to a whole new level. For those unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Live Action Role Play. Hm, how to explain?
Okay. You know those people who put on elaborate costumes for no apparent reason, gather in some misty field, and then speak in a hybrid language of Olde English and Nerdese while they beat the tar out of each other with Nerf swords? Yeah. That’s LARPing. Those are LARPers. And I’ve got some. An infestation, really. One thought the swords looked cool, and, being the oldest, set the trend for the others. It snowballed from there.
Honestly, only two of them seem like they could go hardcore with it. Though the eight year old has been trying to join the fray…
Okay, three. Three out of four. I’m not sure if anyone has compiled a list of LARPing stats amongst teenagers, so I don’t know if those are right on par. My bet would be no.
They’ve gone now. The herd packed up and stormed their way out the door leaving empty cereal bowls and dirty socks in their wake. The bus has whisked them off to a large regional high school where they actually found other people from outside the confines of this little town who share their gaming and geek culture. They’ve only got a few more days of school, then summer break. And then I have a bunch of teens home. All. Summer. Long.
I think I’m going to get them into making their own weaponry for their LARP hobby. I’ve got tons of materials, tools, spray paint. And duct tape. Can’t forget the duct tape. It’s the backbone of every LARPer’s workshop.
Why would I support such a bizarre habit? Because while I roll my eyes and shake my head when it gets to be just a little too much to listen to, I really do encourage it. Somehow they found something they’re really excited about, really get in to. It doesn’t hurt anyone. They’re not going out and causing trouble like so many other bored kids end up doing around this small town just to have something to do on the weekend. Nothing’s gotten pierced or tattooed, they don’t drink or smoke, and so far, none of them have added to the alarmingly high teen parent rate.
Oh come on. I’m not going to pretend that’s not a distinct possibility. Have you driven by a high school these days? There’s a whole lot of boob and camel toe, no matter what the dress code might be. Add to that all the instant-access social media where people are usually half naked, and the world is now a very suggestive place.
But, like I said, they are into LARPing. Video games. Magic the Gathering card game and all that terrific geek culture that is the last bastion of childhood. And they aren’t alone. Over the past decade, geek culture has really been embraced and accepted, more than it ever has been in the past. The very fact that they haven’t gotten their asses kicked for their hobbies speaks to that.
I remember when I was in school, you kept your love of gaming and geekery to yourself or you got laughed at. Or worse. And while my boys did face some of that in elementary school and middle school, now that they’re in a large high school, they have found enough acceptance to embrace their geekiness, not hide from it. Not pretend. Not live someone else’s idea of “cool”.
God, I love my boys.
They are who they are and that is that. I don’t know how in the hell I’ve managed to raise kids with that healthy attitude. My own high school days were…let’s just say they weren’t filled with confidence, that’s for sure. While some of it is probably because they are boys and their new, sad little mustaches and pit hair make them feel invincible, there has to be more to it than that. I know plenty of insecure men.
Maybe it’s just the fact that they found something to do that they really like and do it, and that we let them.
Whatever the reasons, they are who they are. And in just a couple more days, I’ll have a house full of tall, endlessly hungry, slightly smelly geeks all summer long. They just downloaded a bunch of new games, even though I’ve got limits on video game time in the summer. We’ve got supplies, many, many supplies…
You know, hang on. I just have to say something here. Everyone rags on hoarding. But sometimes, it comes in handy.
Sorry, that had to be said. We “rapid acquirers”, as one of my kids has kindly renamed us, DO have some redeeming qualities. You need it? No matter what “it” might be, chances are, I have it. Um…somewhere. Hoarding is not all dead cats under a pile of molded newspapers, ya know.
ANYWAY…. I’ll set them loose on the pile and see what they come up with. That should keep them busy!
Er, I guess for the first week. But…but…there are seven more after that to fill.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST???
Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, June 17, 2014. I’m off to scramble up a list of activities that’ll keep the horde entertained. Boy do I miss the days when a $3 sprinkler and a sack of freezer pops was all it took to keep the kiddies happy all summer…