Harrison is developing into a typical male, which, in a way, is fun to see. For example, he loves video games. His favorite game is Lego Racers, a racing game in which you can build your cars and drivers from virtual Lego bricks.
I bought the game for myself but rejected it as too simplistic. I gave it to Hank a long time ago — three years ago? — and it's been pleasing to watch his progress. At first, he was awful. His three-year-old hands and mind couldn't grasp the concept. With time, though, his skills improved. One day, Jenn told me that Harrison had actually managed to finish a race by himself. Sometime later she noted that he could regularly finish third. And then second. And then first.
As with other games of this type, winning races unlocks new tracks and new racers. Hank loves this stuff, and so do I. There's a skeleton racer and a pharoah racer and a speed racer. Harrison's favorite racer is the pirate racer, whom he calls Me Hearty.
When I babysat the kids a couple of weeks ago, Emma and I watched while Harrison raced. Emma climbed onto the top bunk; I plopped onto the bottom. While we watched, Emma provided running commentary. She doesn't like to play, but she sure understands what's happening on-screen.
I tried to play. I was awful. I couldn't finish third, let alone first. "You're not very good," Emma told me.
"Yeah, J.D. You should let me race," said Hank. And so I did.
"I want to make a new racer, but it won't let me," said Harrison after a while.
The game lets players build their own cars and racers based on the unlocked components. These racers can then be given a name and saved. However, there's a limit to the number of racers that can be saved. This limit is high — thirty-two? Sixty-four? — but Harrison had reached it.
"Let's see what you've got," I said, and I scanned through the saved racers. There were dozens of them, all named Player, which is the default name. "Do you really want to save all these?" I asked.
"Sure," said Harrison.
"Well, I've got to erase at least one so that you can make a new racer," I said. I erased several Players and then we made a new racer that we named Me Hearty.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks. A few nights ago we went over to join the Gingeriches for corned beef and butter chocolate chip cookies. After dinner — and before baths — I watched Harrison race.
Hank: Hey, J.D., lookit! I'm in first.
J.D.: Yeah, I know. You're always in first.
Hank: Of course I am. Did you think I was dumb at Lego Racers or something?
J.D.: No. I think I'm dumb at Lego Racers.
Hank: Yeah, I know.
J.D.: Hey, Harrison, do you want me to bring you another racing game?
Hank: Sure. He plays for a few seconds. Is it easy?
J.D.: No. It's hard.
Hank: Is it as hard as Lego Racers?
J.D.: It's harder. You've played it before.
Hank: I have?
J.D.: Yeah. You and Ian used to play it at my house.
Hank: Oh yeah. I remember that one. I had a dream about it once. I unlocked a new car. It was a crazy car and it had spikes all over it and stuff and it shot spikes.
J.D.: Hold on. I've got to write this down. I go out for a pencil and a piece of paper.
Hank: I'm done. I won first. Hey, what are you writing?
J.D.: I'm writing everything you said to me.
Hank: WHAT?! You are so funny, J.D.
Playing with Emma is less my style, though it's still fun. She's less about video games and more about interaction.
Last night she wanted me to swing her around the living room by her feet, which I did. "Be careful," warned Kris and Jenn. "Watch out for the wall!" As if I would smack my little Scout.
Spinning a little girl around by her feet makes a guy dizzy, and eventually I needed a break. "Do it again!" shouted Scout, and she lay on the floor with her feet in the air, waiting for me to spin her.
I grabbed her feet and made to lift her, but instead pulled off both socks, as if by accident. We both giggled crazily. "Do it again!" shouted Scout.
"Look how dirty her feet are," said Jenn. Emma's feet were filthy. With warm weather and five acres of land, the kids are learning about the country life. It's the life I grew up with.
"Do it again!" shouted Scout. At this point I was torn by my desire to be silly and my Moral Compass. In the end, my desire to be silly won out: I grabbed her feet and made to lift her, but instead pulled off her pants. We both giggled crazily.
I love playing with those kids.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2004 — Geeky Sunday Andrew, Joel, and I met at Dave's house for a little bit of fun last Sunday. We gathered to play Dungeons and Dragons, that rite of passage for geeks everywhere. You might think that a quartet of 35-year-old men is too old to be playing geeky boy games. You'd be wrong.
2003 — Boy in a Well Over the past couple days I've heard bits and pieces about the angry farmer who drove his tractor into a pond in Washington, D.C.
2002 — Frustrated On Sunday I drove to six different stores around Portland searching for her album. None of them had it. What a colossal waste of time. I would have gladly paid $10 to be able to download the thing from an online source.
2001 — Disjointed Morning I'm not the best judge of weather at 5:40 a.m. I had intended to bike to work today but when...