I’m A Gamer

Juan Jose guffaws, “That’s NOT a gamer, Mom.”

All three people in my household agree with each other that I’m addicted to the Ticket to Ride app on my phone. It’s the only game application that I have downloaded. It’s my secret pleasure, though it isn’t such a secret, when I tell them that I’ll be in the house as soon as my game is over. I sit in the car while Jody, Juan and Crystel unload themselves and make their way into the house.

I’m not convinced that I’m addicted. Though, one day I did cancel the app three times only to download it again.

Ticket to Ride, has brought me to a new understanding of teenage boys and why they like electronic games.

I’m totally sucked in when I’m playing. Voices in the house are just that—voices. Time drifts away. Once in awhile, I hear Crystel above the din saying, “Language, mom. Language.”

It is true that my vocabulary has grown since playing Ticket to Ride.

At times, Jody will think that I’m talking to her until she realizes that I’m having a conversation with my phone and these unseen people who I’m playing against.

Once another player (there are 3 other players—all anonymous) typed, “edigrazia sucks.” I had intentionally blocked their train route to gain advantage. I flinched. After the game, I quickly changed my profile name, edigrazia to just numbers. I felt more hidden, more anonymous. Currently, my profile name is juegodetren (playthetrain). I told Juan and Crystel that now the other players think I’m Hispanic. I even went on Google translate to get the spelling right.

“Oh, mom,” they said, shaking their heads.

Jody recently sent me a picture of a grandma gamer. “Maybe it’s good for your brain,” she said.

I think she was attempting to come to peace with my gaming, although she got upset the other day.

In our driveway she sat in the police car waiting for me. We were volunteering that evening for Police Reserves. I joined her in the front seat but asked her not to leave the driveway until I was done with my game. Sometimes, a quick change in web address will kick you off the game. And, I had an edge. I thought I might win this one.

Jody logged us into the police computer. I didn’t observe her because I was focused on my game. She pulled out of the driveway and it happened. I was kicked off.

Later that evening, dispatch was calling 2662 to respond to a complaint of a barking dog. We didn’t pay any attention because our call sign is 2552. There was a bit of confusion with dispatch and the sergeant. After some checking we realized that we were signed in as 2662.

Fortunately, being a police reserve officer is a volunteer position. You can’t fire a volunteer…or can you?

All because of juego de tren?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boy Scouts did What this Mom Couldn’t

May 18 2014 056A 30 mile bike ride with nary a whine. Just an I Made It! text. And where was I? 10 minutes behind the Scout, my butt and legs hurting.

Our ride started at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis, the meeting place of Boy Scout Troop 110, and ended at Carver Park Reserve.

It didn’t take me long to realize how out of shape I was. Before leaving the parking lot, I tipped over. I couldn’t get my foot out of my clipless foot clamp. Lying on the ground, I looked up at Antonio while other Scout leaders rushed to help me. His face was expressionless, a look that he’s mastering.

“Perhaps, I’d better ride around the parking lot a few times before riding out,” I said.

Antonio’s daily bike riding had him in good shape for this challenge. Still, it was 10 miles before I saw his first smile. Antonio and another Scout had found the electronics table at the Depot Coffee House in Hopkins, our first rest stop. I didn’t chide Antonio to join the other scouts outside. I could see that this was a boy bonding moment and his way into this Boy Scout Troop. Instead, I snapped a picture, left a bottle of Gatorade and chocolate chip cookie on the Playstation.

Before leaving for our next ten miles, he said, “I think I’m going to like this Troop.”

May 18 2014 057At the 20 mile mark, he shocked me with two hugs. This could have been because we were at Adele’s Frozen Custard in Excelsior and in a moment he would ask for gummy worms and sprinkles . . . or maybe he was overwhelmed with love for his mom. Either way, I was shocked when his rock hard arms came around me and squeezed.

I had been giving him space on the ride, staying closer to the back of our herd of 16 bikers. I didn’t want to crowd him as he found his way into the pack.

Sometimes it’s only in a gathering like this that I get a glimpse of Antonio or Crystel as the ‘different’ ones. They are such a part of me that I don’t see any differences between us. In this group, Antonio was the only person of color. Meaning that in this group I was his white mom.

I wanted Antonio to choose how to ‘come out’ in this group that he was adopted. After all, it’s his group.

I’ve watched Antonio step between the world of Hispanics and the world of whites with ease. In this gathering he was the only Hispanic, even though at school his very best friends are Hispanic and white. (Thank you, Richfield Dual Language School!)

Troop 110 found a way around

Troop 110 found a way around

Six years ago, in kindergarten on his way home from school he whined, “Why do I have to learn Spanish?” Perhaps, he saw himself such a part of Jody and me that he didn’t see his difference. I paused thinking ‘Shock alert here’ then answered, “Because you’re Guatemalan, dude.”

At Carver Park Reserve, I texted Jody and told her that I had arrived. Antonio would be camping overnight with the Scouts while I headed for home.

This was another nice surprise: Antonio camping with the Boy Scouts by himself. I had told him in Cub Scouts that if he needed me to I would camp with him until he was 18. Perhaps he is writing his own book, LIFE WITHOUT MOM.

Except his book is LIFE WITHOUT TWO MOMS.

Carver Park Reserve

Carver Park Reserve

I wasn’t sure that Antonio was ‘out’ yet to this Boy Scout Troop that he had two moms. I’m sensitive that he and Crystel are allowed to be visible in their own timing and in their own way. I wrote a blog post about this July 26, 2012 titled Truth Telling.

I had already checked with the Scoutmaster (in private) about how the Troop felt about Antonio having two moms. “Everyone is welcomed.”

Since Jody and I weren’t sure if Antonio had come out to this Boy Scout Troop, we gave him separate quiet goodbyes.

The next morning at 7:40 a.m., I received a text from Antonio: When do you pick me up?

The Boy Scout

The Boy Scout

I couldn’t read between the lines–did he have a good time? Didn’t he have a good time? Would he be adamant about never returning to Scouts?

I texted back the time and then asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how did it go?”

He answered, 10!

Perils of Being a Writer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrystel shuffles out of her bedroom, rubbing her eyes. The rest of us have been up for hours. In fact, Antonio has about used up all of his allotted time with electronics. I briefly look up at her. She’s grown taller in the night, I think. She stretches out her form before flopping down next to me on the couch.

“Good morning, dear.”

She mumbles, “Good morning.” She leans casually towards me. We’re now bumping shoulders.

I return to reviewing my manuscript and drop my eyes to the computer.

“I knew it,” she says. “I knew it! I knew you were going to say it one day!” She jumps up and runs out of the room.

“What!” I say, alarmed.

I look down at the writing on my laptop and immediately know what happened. There in black and white it says Antonio and Crystel aren’t my children….

“Crystel! Crystel! Come back here!” I leap off the couch. Yelling upstairs, I say, “Antonio is Crystel up there!”

“No, she’s not.”

Rushing down the basement steps, I holler, “Crystel, you need to come back and talk to me. Crystel, where are you!” It’s dark and quiet in the basement.

I rush back upstairs to where Antonio is. “Antonio are you telling me the truth? Is Crystel upstairs?”

“She’s not up here. She never came up here.”

I’m in a bit of a panic. What could Crystel think, and if she won’t talk to me, then what? And is it true that she has always thought that I was going to say that she’s not mine?

“Crystel, you need to come here.”

I hear behind me, “You couldn’t find me.” She seems pleased with this.

“No, I couldn’t find you. Now, sit down.” I’m relieved she actually does.

“If you are going to read something that I am writing, you need to read all of it or ask a question. You reading part of a sentence is like coming into a conversation part way or seeing only part of an elephant. You aren’t getting the whole story.”

“Now, look at this.” I point to the paragraph: Antonio and Crystel aren’t my children to own or to have or to keep. Finding their birthmoms, reuniting the mom with their child, promising to bring Antonio and Crystel back every two years to Guatemala continues restoring me to health.

“What this means is that you aren’t an object for me to own. You are your own person. Not mine. Now if we scroll up here, it says, When I say to them, you can count on me, I absolutely mean it.” I look in her eyes. “You are my daughter. I would do anything for you.”

This seems to satisfy her. Crystel is often interested in what I write. When she came upon me reviewing the last blog I wrote about her being interested in the bathroom scale, she read it. She laughed and laughed. Now she will have another blog to read: The Perils of Being a Writer.

At bedtime we will have that other talk, in case she really is expecting to hear me say she isn’t really my daughter. Hmmmm.