It reminds me when my oldest son - now 29 - had his first Nintendo, and Mario became a permanent member of our family. From then on, whenever I called the kids to dinner - his "reassurance" to me that he was on his way, was: "OK, Mom... I guess I'll just kill myself." - in that floppy-eared, defeated Eore voice.
My kids ended up killing themselves regularly to comply with dinner rules. I was always a bit uneasy about that. Somehow video games have given us this take on death. Kind of like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Last week - when days of homework, soccer games in the rain, and all the other stresses of being a nine-year-old came together in one devastating moment of having to postpone the purchase of a five dollar toy, I said to my wailing child:"I understand your disappointment, little man, but let's think a bit about how distraught you are right now, in contrast to last week's rather calm reaction when I told you that Grandma might be dying."
"I know Mom... I get it... and I know I'll be really sad when she is actually dead, but now it doesn't seem sad to me - 'cause she's still alive!That's why I can't be sad about her now, and it's why I can't be happy about getting that toy all the way next week, either!"
Checkmate. Once again, reminded by one of my children of what it's like to live in the present.
But - he did wake up to the vast difference between "life and death issues" and issues of mere childhood consumerism. It was a growing-up day. We celebrated that he wasn't a baby anymore. To babies everything is a life and death issue. He was very pleased in the end about this grown up delayed gratification.
Then, we received a - just in case- early Halloween card in the mail from Grandma - which contained a surprising $10.00 bill - to spend on something fun. The card played a spooky song when you opened it and featured lots of skeletons dancing around a fire, and announced - "Halloween is just around the corner. I can feel it in my bones!"
"Me too!" Grandma had signed the card.
We drove to ToysR Us the very same day, happy that Grandma was still alive.