I've noticed a trend among my friends. Us girls want to get together, and we want out of the house. We want to see the sights, eat food we didn't cook ourselves and not clean up afterward, we want to laugh, dress in non-slobbered grownup clothes, and get away from the daily grind. We want to go somewhere that doesn't have the faint smell of Cheerio's and baby powder lingering in the air. This is why we cherish GNO.
Ideally, for me anyway, my firefighter would be the one taking me out for a night on the town. However, he has a different vision of the perfect night out. For him, it would involve staying at home, no kids around, plenty to eat and drink, and relaxing in front of the t.v. or the computer. He wants to retreat to his man cave to play his game. Not that we have a man cave; it's more of a man nook. At least it's a step up from his space in our previous apartment, the man closet:
I come from a family of gamers--a family that designs and builds video games--a family that designs and builds programs to design and build video games. It is part of my heritage and part of our generation, these games. The music from them will forever be embedded in our brains. There is no escape. Do you remember those games? (I am willing to bet that the music from Mario Bros is playing in someone's mind right about now.) I remember the preparation my brothers put into the release of Donkey Kong Junior. They even redecorated the family room to achieve the optimal gaming ambiance, with the appropriate chairs and snacks. The game marathon that followed when it was finally released was the stuff of legend. All of this is to say, I appreciate the genre.
However, I do find myself resenting one of the games my firefighter plays on his days off.
I am a Battlefield 2 widow.
He comes home, turns the computer on, and since the game is live, is unreachable for 15 minutes at a time. This isn't like the games of yore where one could simply pause the game to get the crying baby. Oh no, he has an obligation to those other live players for that chunk of time. My question is, how did those people behind the text on his screen become such a loud voice in our house? In his defense, I, too, have my vices that I put off getting the fussy baby to enjoy. I'm indulging in a bowl of vice (rocky road ice cream) at this very moment. We all need a break every now and then.
So, on a night off, we have this problem of wanting to do two very different things, and me getting annoyed at the attention trapping game. What's a girl to do? I want out of the house, he wants anywhere but out. He has been toying with the idea of installing his game on the other computer so that I can play with him, which I'm not completely opposed to. I'll give it a shot--if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Right?
In the meantime, we've come to a compromise that allows us to both get something close to the ideal evening off. My 2 year old has become fascinated with Battlefield 2--mostly because it has a big red "2" on it, which he excitedly points out. He stands next to his dad, pointing out any windmills that may appear, saying 'oooooh nooooo' whenever dad falls down, and clapping for him when the game is over. So, I hook dad up with a bottle, put the baby in the swing right next to him, sit my 2 year old on his dad's lap, and let my kindergartner fend for herself in her pink girl cave while I go out on my own.
I cherish those moments, driving all alone in the car with my music turned up, headed somewhere where I'm not "mom". And, since I'm out of the house, I don't have to be annoyed when my firefighter can't do something in my time frame because of the game. It's not ideal, however. I don't get to spend time with my firefighter, and he has to take care of the kids for a while, but it gives us a chance to unwind in our own ways. Plus, later we get to watch a movie, be kid-free, and spend time together when the kids go to sleep.
So really, the man cave he wants to construct in the family room is for my benefit, too. I'll just call it the babysitter cave.