A few weeks ago my wife took our 10-month-old daughter out West to visit the family, leaving my 3-and-a-half-year-old son and I to fend for ourselves for five entire days. As much as I knew I would miss my baby girl, I was very much looking forward to some time with my son, just the two of us.
On the way back from dropping them off at the airport, we stopped by Walmart to get some things for Mommy's stocking. Or, at least that was the plan going in. In reality, we never made it past the toy aisles, picking up every Avengers, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Transformers and Cars toy we came across, examining each one to see what it did, and having a mini-argument about why we couldn't buy every toy he put in the cart.
We finally negotiated an agreement on one particular Transformer that he'd been lobbying for, which was his favorite, and headed toward the electronics section, which is, of course, the toy aisle for Daddy.
We walked through the video-game section, which normally my son isn't very interested in. He's been playing games on the iPad for more than two years now, but he can't quite grasp console games yet. If you think about it, all the buttons on an Xbox or Playstation controller really are quite intimidating.
When we came across the Wii U display, which my son had never seen before, he asked: "Daddy, what's that?"
"That's the Wii U," I replied, "the brand-new video game console from Nintendo. I'd really like to get one, but I don't think you're ready for it yet."
He peered out of the cart to examine the Wii U Gamepad more closely, then looked at me with his serious face (my son is almost always smiling, laughing, playing, etc., so when he gets his serious face, I pay attention). Along with his serious face, he said in his serious voice, "But Dad, I am ready."
And at that moment, I was Yoda, and he was Luke Skywalker. Or Mickey Goldmill and Rocky Balboa. Mr. Myagi and the Karate Kid. You get the idea. My heart suddenly swelled with geek pride. It was also weird that he called me "Dad" and not "Daddy" for the first time that I could recall, as if he'd just aged five years right before my eyes.
I hadn't looked before, but now noticed that there was one Wii U left sitting behind the glass case. Without regard to much of anything -- minor things such as credit card debt, how mad this will make Mommy, etc. -- I tracked down a sales droid to unlock the glass case and put it, as well as a copy of Super Mario Brothers U, in the cart alongside my son and his Transformer.
He let out a "WHOA!" and grabbed the box, asking me what each picture was of and wanting to know everything that was inside. In hindsight, I could have probably put the Transformer back, and he wouldn't have noticed.
We got home and unpacked it; he was as excited about an HDMI cable as his old man and even more so when I showed him where each cable and cord went. Finally, it was time to turn the game on, which I let him do. His face lit up and he smiled a smile that could have melted the heart of even the meanest Grinch.
Well, suffice it to say, I was no longer worried about the money I had just spent. Besides, it was just as much a Christmas present for Daddy (and baby girl when she gets older) as it was for him.
In the days that have followed, he's gotten much better at getting Mario to run, jump, butt-stomp on Goombas, etc., and is well on his way to becoming a gamer like his father.
I couldn't be more proud.
Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.