Susan's Blog

Thursday, December 15, 2005

X Marks the Box

I wrote the following commentary for NPR’s Marketplace, but they “are not going to use it.” (Don’t you just love the myriad ways editors express rejection of one’s work?) The piece is about how everyone is talking about the XBox 360, and how they can’t find it anywhere, and yet Max, my cool dude thirteen-year-old (front and center):

could not care less.

X Marks the Box — A Commentary Meant for Public Radio
Where did I go wrong, raising a boy who has no interest in violent video games? My thirteen year old son Max doesn’t care about Xbox 360, the must-have present for teenagers this Christmas. Even though Microsoft was even cannier than usual in this round of marketing because they managed to ship their next generation product ahead of Sony and Nintendo, in time for Christmas, and in short supply, Max remains indifferent to its charm. “The graphics are good, but it’s mostly all sports games and first-person shooters,” he says with mild disgust.

I know what you’re thinking: artistic type. Anti-technology.

Wrong. Max is as big a computer geek as they come. Max is Uber-technical, obsessed with designing his own computer games, making Flash movies, hacking, and blogging. Max’s computer teacher comes to him for help.

Which is the real crux of my problem: what presents can I, a hopelessly right-brained, soft-hearted female, get this boy? How can I connect with him, a virtual stranger wrapped in baggy pants and attitude? Long gone are the days when I could make him smile with a new Beanie Baby. I look at Max’s wish list, bewildered. Every item is a significant bit of software, averaging close to $100. I need a manual to understand the names. I need to know that “Alias” software is different from an Alienware computer, apparently the most awesome of computers because it has alien eyes on it – for a retail price starting at $4,399.

Hmm, I think desperately. Maybe I can just paint some alien eyes on my old Mac?

What am I going to get Max? I’m panicking.

And then I notice the item towards the bottom of the list: Weebl and Bob Plushies. Weebl and Bob Plushies? I dutifully Google it, and there, before my eyes, are a cluster of little stuffed creatures with the sweetest faces. Tiny, dot eyes; felt bodies. My breath catching in my throat, I realize that I have stumbled upon the other side of thirteen: Fragments of innocence.

I can order Weebl online for $17.75. In fact, I will order the whole set, because now I feel like celebrating that my son is completely out of the mainstream, difficult to shop for, and I couldn’t be happier.

1 comment

Wow, you found that your 13 year old still has a soft spot for plushies! My cool dude 15 year old hasn’t had anything on his wish list that wasn’t electronic for at least three years (other than a new saxophone).

There has not been a peep about a new game system this year. Though there has been lots of maneuvering for a new laptop. Though his needs sound less than yours… he just needs it to play Guild Wars online (ssshhh… he is getting one, and his older E-machine is going to his little sister).

By the way, having computer geek fathers is one way for these guys to be interested in computer stuff. There is a big interest in our house by all three to try animation. Under the tree will be $300 3d animation program that Dad got excited by… sigh (it is ).

By the way, just like your youngest, my youngest is constantly drawing. She is a heavy user of the Wacom tablet which was under the tree last year. She wants to animate with Flash… but we declined to buy the software until she works with the demo in the two instruction books we got her. She does animate with Paint Shop Pro Animation Shop.

The packages keep getting smaller and more expensive… though the 11 year old girl still includes plushies in her wish list.

— added by HCN on Friday, December 16, 2005 at 11:58 am

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