By Sue Murphy
For once, I find that I am almost done with my Christmas shopping. (Don’t hate me.) The only people I have left on my list are my grandchildren. My granddaughters both want dolls, so that’s easy. Barbie and I go way back. My 2-year-old grandson loves construction vehicles, so if I find something with giant tires and a scoop on the front, I’ll be golden. My 8-year-old grandson, however, wants video games, and that will be a challenge.
I may have subconsciously dragged my feet doing his shopping because I’m suffering from PTGGS (Post Traumatic Grandma Gaming Syndrome). I don’t do well with video games. They involve machines, my arch-nemesis, and you are invariably faced with an electronic opponent who is smarter and faster than you…or maybe just me. By the time I figure out how to use the controls, my character has already been stomped by a monster or fallen off a cliff. My grandson has been very patient with my doomed efforts, and I want to buy him exactly what he wants. I’m his grandma. That’s my job.
Last summer, my grandson was pining for a new gaming system, the Zippo 2017 or something like that. He spent hours watching people on YouTube simply take it out of the box. The system is expensive, and his parents wisely set up a chores = savings system to help him purchase it. And as much as I love being the grandma hero, I didn’t want to derail that.
What I could do was help him get some new fuzzy little character into his existing game system. After several failed attempts, we read the directions and found that we needed a relatively inexpensive reader, so I gamely said, “Let’s go get one.”
Like the wand store in the Harry Potter movies, the game store walls were lined with alien packaging and I had no idea where to start. Trying to maintain my dignity in front of my grandchildren, I handed the clerk the slip of paper where I had written down exactly what we needed. Recognizing me as a video lost cause (I mean I had written it down on a piece of paper … ), he kindly plucked the reader from the wall and took my credit card.
I suspect, however, that the clerk also pegged me as an easy grandma mark, so when my grandson pointed out a sign featuring the Zippo 2017, the clerk casually mentioned that the Zippo representative was coming that afternoon to do a demonstration. When I hesitated, he added, “They’re giving away color-changing logo cups to anyone who drops by.” My grandson looked up at me with those earnest, patient eyes, and I knew we’d be back.
When we returned, the new system was indeed set up in all its glory and was running some game where the object was to cover everything with paint, which looked a whole lot less painful than repeatedly falling off a cliff. However, it was also surrounded by a gaggle of Big Bang Theory extras who had brought their own controllers, probably in monogrammed controller cases, although I didn’t actually see them. We stood there and stood there but we didn’t stand a chance, so we collected our color-changing cups and went home to play with the little critter who had (miracle of miracles) made it into the game my grandson already had.
I don’t know anything about video games, but I will strive to overcome my PTGGS this holiday season because of my kind, patient, hard-working little guy. I’m his grandma. That’s my job.