The bad part about my son getting sick is that he’s sick and my heart breaks with each cough and hasty trip to the bathroom. The good part about my son getting sick is that I often get to take a day off work and stay home to help him recuperate.
That’s how I spent last Thursday. Him and I together on the sofa, he with a blanket and his DS, me with pen and paper. The goal was a simple one—to get him better, and to get me a thousand words on my next novel.
Of course, goals seem to fly out the window when it comes to tending to a sick child. Especially when that child is more intent to play and talk than to rest and heal. We reached an agreement when we both decided watching a movie was what we really wanted to do. He voted for Star Wars. I voted for Lord of the Rings. We compromised for Pirates of the Caribbean.
I actually thought we’d watch the movie, he being sick and all. But no. My son is much like myself in that he’s quiet unless around someone he knows well. And since he knows me well…
“Would you rather be Jack Sparrow or Captain Barbossa?”
“Jack,” I said. My answer was both immediate and a little embarrassing. I didn’t want my son to think I spend a lot of time thinking about such things. Which I do. “I guess, I mean. I guess Jack. Never thought about it, though.”
“I’d rather be Jack, too.”
The movie went on. Cannonballs and swords and cries of “Arrgh!”
“Would you rather be a cursed pirate or a girl?”
“A cursed pirate.”
“Me, too. Wanna know why?”
“Because cursed pirates are cool and girls are not.”
“Maybe. But one day you’re gonna think girls are cool.”
More movie. A buried treasure. A battle at sea. But by then those things didn’t matter much because my son had begun playing his favorite game.
Would You Rather.
It started with a book he brought home from school one day filled with all sorts of questions. Would you rather this or would you rather that. Some were comical—Would you rather eat boogers or lick a frog’s face? Others were difficult—Would you rather hit a game-winning homerun or score a game-winning touchdown? A few were even thoughtful—Would you rather make someone’s wish come true or make your own wish come true?
You get the idea. He was enthralled. And as I subscribe to the philosophy of I-don’t-care-what-you-read-as-long-as-it’s-not-Tiger Beat when it comes to my kids, I allowed it.
Sometimes I think that philosophy needs to be reexamined.
Because after an entire day of playing Would You Rather, I decided I Would Rather Not.
Then again, I discovered that an entire day of playing Would You Rather allowed me a long look into the way my son sees the world and the way he sees himself. And by that I don’t mean just that he’d rather be a fish rather than a person because “If I was a fish, I could pee anywhere.”
Other things. Deeper things.
Things like the fact that he’d rather live an exciting life than a long life. And that he’d rather wait for spring than wait for winter.
And my favorite—that he’d rather have me as a dad than even Captain Jack Sparrow.
I suppose in a way games such as this play an important role in a young child’s life. It gets them used to making choices, and life is nothing but a series of choices.
Would you rather be someone else or your best self?
Would you rather not risk failure or chase your dreams?
Would you rather suffer a broken heart or never dare to love?
Would you rather spend your eternity with God or apart from Him?
See what I mean? Choices. That’s what life is all about. That’s where our battles are fought.
Where our present is made and our future fashioned.