Thursday, February 20, 2014


It has come to our attention that we are countercultural as parents.

We didn't intend to be.  Some of the things we've done since the boys were born have since been considered trendy or en vogue.  We didn't just do natural childbirth, we did the Bradley method.  I nursed on demand.  Sometimes, but not all the time, the boys ended up in our bed.  We didn't linger too long with the jarred baby foods.  I "wore" them when they were small enough and my back would allow it.  I learned to look to homeopathic treatments for some ailments and illnesses.  They've both been seeing a chiropractor regularly for several years.  But we did all our vaccines on time.  I bathed them everyday.  I never have been able to stomach the cost of organic stuff.  We've never been opposed to going to an urgent care for antibiotics when the illness warranted it. 

Some of our decisions have flipped us from one side of the coin to the other, probably confusingly so to an outsider's perspective.  We removed them from their Catholic school.  We put them in public school.  They did a year of traditional CCD/Sunday School/Religious Ed at our parish.  We didn't return and chose the homeschool option for Religious Ed.  We limit their screen time, but they both have a DS and we regularly add to their Wii and DS game collections for Christmas and birthdays.  Matt even rebuilt one of his old desktop computers so they have a just for them computer.  We don't have Dish or Direct TV or even cable and only have one tv in the house.  But we put our Netflix subscription to good use. 

We suspect that even those few details might not appear too countercultural.  We're closet countercultural.  It creeps out sometimes with their chore charts but no allowance, the home enthronement and family altar and when we flat out say no to one more extracurricular activity.  It has been out their loud and clear though this week.  In one week's time, both boys were invited to birthday parties with what is apparently the latest and greatest party thing - a game trailer.  I guess it is the equivalent of the kid who was lucky enough to have a pony at their party.  And all the kids want to go.  And all the kids want to have it.  Our boys would have loved to go. And we would have loved to let them.  The game choices are diverse.  They have a wide selection of popular games and all the information about ratings are available.  The party throwing parents make the decisions and have to give permission for those games rated M.

Those games rated M.  We don't play them.  Matt and I don't play them.  Well, he has and might consider some but not with or in front of the boys.  He likes his Crysis game, but hasn't played it since the boys were old enough to accidentally see anything over his shoulder.  Our boys have never even seen a rated M game being played.

Matthew's party was a Halo party.  After much fretting, asking around and researching, we said no.  We made up some lame excuse with the rsvp about having a family obligation.  I was disappointed that a parent would throw a party for a group of 9 and 10 year old boys and just assume it'd be ok with everyone that they play Halo.  I was even more disappointed when Matthew said everyone else went.  One kid had a doctor's appointment.  Matthew had his "family obligation." 

I was just recovering from this soul searching dilemma and crushing Matthew's eager hopes when a party invite arrives for Josh.  I had to leave the mom a voicemail accepting the invitation - a generic game trailer postcard with no indication of what theme or games the 6 and 7 olds will be playing.  I asked her to call me because I did have a couple questions....She didn't call but we did run into each other in the parking lot. 

Halo and Call of Duty.

There are 5 systems and screens in the trailer.  The kids can choose other games but Halo and Call of Duty would be on at least one of the systems because the birthday boy and his uncles play it.  They would definitely be playing Halo and Call of Duty.


I muttered and mumbled and oh, well, we don't allow them to play mature games.  We don't do rated M games at our home.  Then spent the rest of the day in turmoil.

I ended up calling that afternoon and leaving a voicemail, taking back our previous rsvp of yes.  No.  Joshua wouldn't be able to attend because we don't want him exposed to those sort of games at this age.

I wonder how many other parents even thought to ask what games would be at the 7 year old's party?  I wonder how many would even care?

We did.  We do.  And with that, we're going to be outed.  We are THOSE parents.  The ones who won't even let their kids attend a party with that game or movie or what have you.  We'll be the ones calling and asking.  We'll be the ones checking on the chaperone situation of this and that party.  We'll be the ones with the kids who won't get their OWN phones for a very long time.  Who won't have a Facebook or Twitter account.  Who will have a curfew.  Who won't have their own car.  Who won't be dating until their 16.  Who won't ever be up on all the latest and greatest music and movies because they aren't allowed to listen or watch crap.

And they'll probably be in marching band too.

Maybe the hardest part is not being countercultural, but knowing that for the boys it's not going to be easy.  It'll be awkward at best.  A good friend encouraged us to find like-minded parents to surround ourselves with, Matt agreed but said the swimming pool will be small. 

The swimming pool will be small.  But at least it will be clean and our kids will know how to swim.

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