Why are thousands of ten-year-olds sad today? Lego Universe, the amazingly bright, whimsical, smart and fun interactive adventure MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) game, closed up shop last night. Not enough revenue from subscribers, we’re told.
Our son Sam had tears in his eyes as in the late hours many avatars posted their final good-byes. “Good-bye, Lego Universe. I’ll miss you.”
Sam was sad. So was I, but he had some real grief. For the past four months, he had played with his pal Nathan to the brink of his parents’ allowance of screen time– an hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I let him plug in for extra rounds yesterday, the Last Day.
As eschatology was fulfilled and the stars went out one by one, I was reminded how passionate kids are.
And how adults sometimes forget to pay attention.
Sure, the occasion is not tragic in the scope of the world’s deepest problems, but feelings are feelings.
So I thought about my role as a dad. I want to listen carefully and guide our son who is inexperienced with the power of emotions. Strong feelings can be disorienting and it’s helpful to have a mentor. What’s at stake? Picture the grown-up child with a sense of personhood that either accepts emotions as a vital, chemical, good part of his or her life or something peripheral to stuff and resist.
Treating kids with respect is making a new world.
Jeez, I’m getting all preachy now.
What would your life have been like if you’d had a respected adult honor your emotions when you were ten? How would your life have been different if a grown-up had helped you understand the nuances of anger, sadness, joy? And maybe you did. And maybe you’re grateful.
If you’re a grown-up, you can help kids explore what emotions feel like and what they mean. Invite them to feel them and sort them out. When you do that, you serve this world today and also you’re helping with the formation of a fully grown homo sapiens sapiens. Maybe a someday President, doctor, bus driver or artist. You’re helping to shape the world toward health and integrated wholeness.
You maybe don’t remember having feelings for the first time, such as grief, confusion or delight, but when the moment comes for the kid in front of you, maybe you’ll be one to witness it. How you choose to handle this moment may instill some confidence and guide that person on the road to an integrated sense of self.
And now I’m getting all Buscaglia on you.
Sam and I talked about how he had come to know this game and the characters, the great symphonic music, the stories, the colorful play. The whole context had become like a friend, and we miss friends when they go away.
Let me be honest.
Part of me was tempted to diminish this. To point out there are worse atrocities on our planet than the shut down of an online game he played for free in our warm house. Part of me wanted to remind him of the holocaust and show him pics of Bosnian refugees. I guess that part of me wanted to give him wisdom and some sort of speech about not being self-centered. You know, perspective. That’s part of my job as a parent, too, but I’m reminded that Douglas Adams wrote that a sense of perspective can crush us. Okay, he said it much funnier.
There’s lots of ways to love a kid. These days, I am learning about keeping it simple.
How do you think about nurturing emotionality in the young people in your life?
We’re sad about Lego Universe, and that’s good for now.