Relationship Troubles (a boy and his x-box face the facts)


I didn't let David game seriously until he turned thirteen. He'd gotten a handheld GameBoy when he was ten, but the "real deal" had to wait a few more years. He wasn't particularly hung up on his first system; I think it was a PlayStation2. He saved up and got a GameCube after that, too ... but the first system I ever heard him wax poetic about was the XBox 360, the fall of his freshman year in high school.

David had spent a lot of time hanging out with various game systems at friends' houses by then, and he knew what he wanted. Halo 4 was coming out -- it was coming out along with a special edition XBox -- and the whole package was coming out on the very day of his fifteenth birthday.

Destiny was calling.

For months he saved up. He talked of almost nothing else (convincing me to chip in the majority as his present for birthday & Christmas & New Years & Groundhogs Day). And on his birthday, it arrived, and it was his, in all its shining glory:

XBOX

From that moment on, David and the XBox were inseparable.


And then, a few months ago, the trouble started. At first, it was just a comment here and there. David would express a bit of frustration about how the XBox was working, or mention casual interest in other consoles: "Mom, my 360 is overheating again..." or "Mom, the Xbox One isn't as awful as it sounded like it was going to be..." Nothing serious, but I noticed waters weren't quite as smooth as they had been.

Matters came to a rapid and dramatic head this past week. I was woken up from my Sunday afternoon nap (a beautiful Christian Reformed tradition of long-standing) by loud stomping up the stairs. My door opened abruptly, and there David stood, looking about as upset as I've ever seen him.

"It's freezing up, Mom! It keeps freezing up!! It works for a bit, and then it just STOPS!"

I did my best Calming Mother, suggesting various remedies, but to no avail. He had tried them all. This was beyond my powers of reconciliation. And, because it was David, who is alarming well-adjusted, the rest of our exchange went approximately as follows:

David: "ARGH! I feel torn between punching something or crying. Gah, I think I'm having mood swings! Why hormones, Mom? Why?!"

Me: "I'm so sorry! Is there anything I can do?"

David: "No!"

[short pause]

David: "Actually, I kind of want to eat some ice cream and watch some anime in my pajama pants. Would you mind getting me some chocolate ice cream?"

[longer pause]

David: "Huh. I guess my XBox was more like my girlfriend than I thought."

[we both laugh really hard]

One pint of Chocolate Therapy ice cream later, David was more or less back to his normal, equanimous self. Since then, he and the XBox have patched up some of their differences, but it's clear that this is the beginning of the end. The decision's been made, even if the break-up isn't complete. He's even told his friends at school about it. They sympathized. As one of them said, with a supportive hand on David's shoulder, "These things happen, man. They just do."

Still, it's a little sad to see first love end.

David Xbox

(David and his friend Will in the golden days, after an all-night XBox session)


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Written by Christina Van Dyke
the academic world
philosophy professor at a liberal arts college, writing about medieval views on the afterlife, gendered eating, and the perils of on-line dating.

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