I woke up with the rest of our nation to the devastating news about the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
Each television station flashing the ever-changing stats of a heartbreaking disaster.
- 12 dead
- 38 wounded
- 6 year old killed
- 3 month old baby wounded
Television anchors carelessly filling the gaps in conversation with conjecture and hyperbole, relying on eye witness descriptions skewed with emotion and haunted by the visions of carnage.
Pictures of the movie theater, a once-upon-a-time family gathering place, roll on the screen. Each one dark and more ominous looking than the last.
Violence invading the normal.
And all I can picture is my family in that theater in those seats. It could've been any of us. It could've been my babies, my friends, my neighbors.
Blessedly it wasn't. This time. My children still asleep in their beds, upstairs, oblivious to the devastation.
Soon, they will emerge from their blanket cocoons, all warm with rumpled pajamas and sheet-creased faces. They will eat breakfast, get dressed and, then, my middle son will ask to play video games. Violent video games.
And I will say no.
I've never been completely comfortable with violent video games like the Modern Warfare franchise, Halo series, Call of Duty, etc., especially the idea of letting elementary school children play them.
Gradually, they managed to worm their way into my house. Initially, I voiced my disapproval and refused to let my son play them. The games sat unopened, wrapped in plastic packaging for months.
My son's friends stopped coming to our house. Instead, they chose to go elsewhere to houses with "cool moms" who would let them play any video game they wanted. As Phillip's friends weren't coming to our house anymore, I no longer felt connected to the other kids.
So, I let Phillip unwrap those plastic packages.
I reasoned that I could limit the amount of time he played them. I justified the decision by setting up parental controls for the levels of gore and violence. I reassured myself that I had raised my son "right". I ignored the warnings in my head and discomfort in my heart.
As I write this, the images and commentary flood the background, invade my house. And I just can't condone those games anymore.
I can't blindly ignore that they glamorize and celebrate weapons and violence.
I refuse to close the door to our gameroom, walk away and lie to myself as my son plays the games with his friends. Not anymore. Not in my house.
I'm not an idiot nor am I naive. I know that just because they are no longer allowed in my house that my son will not play them. He will find a way. He's a junior high school boy with a lot of friends. They all have game consoles and games without set parental controls.
I'm not going to lie to myself that he won't "sneak" them at his friends' houses. And I'm certainly not going to deny him access to a great group of polite, intelligent and respectful boys.
But they will not play another violent video game in my house. I will once again claim my house.
Violence is not a game. It never should be.