So as a bit of preamble to my story today, let me tell you about the time I acquired a PlayStation console.
My company rewards performance using a number of channels; one of which is a point-based system where points are awarded that can be accumulated and later redeemed against an online catalog. The catalog hosts everything from toasters to helicopter flips.
One year, I decided to redeem my points against a PlayStation 3 console (PS3). Now this seemed like a perfectly logical choice to me at the time but, hindsight being what it is, I will admit that it probably wasn’t the smartest move.
You see my wife and I were the proud parents of both a newborn baby boy and a very spirited two year old toddler. Our toddler had just been moved from his cot into a big bed and putting him to sleep at night was a like patting a ball of cotton wool to sleep using a Velcro glove. Every time we stepped away from the bed he lept out of it. Our newborn was also having trouble at night with reflux and was understandably quite grumpy about that. We spent night after night, patting his back, doing laps around his room with him over a shoulder getting dizzy staring behind us.
In short, life was busy. There was, as I recall, not a great deal of sleeping going on in our house in any bed. We all felt a little like we were living out an extended episode of the Twilight Zone.
Still, while browsing the company online catalog one day I saw that a PS3 was on offer and suddenly visions of lazy Saturday afternoons lying on the couch playing some kind of shoot-em-up against aliens or driving a Ferrari around a virtual Nürburgring flooded my mind. So I redeemed my points against the promise of escapism into PlayStation land.
Yes, true story. This to the raised eyebrows of my wife who couldn’t see how I was going to find the time to play with it enough to justify even spending the virtual currency of my points on such a frivolous thing.
A week or so later, my brand new box of wishful thinking was delivered to our door and that first weekend, I went out and bought a couple of games, games that cost a small fortune I might add. I rationalized my purchase of the games by telling myself that I got the console for ‘free’. This of course is the very same sort of thinking that people do when they see something they don’t need on sale and then buy it and tell everyone how much money they ‘saved’.
That day, my wife took our two precious boys out for the afternoon to visit her parents (who live about five houses away from us) and I got a comfortable seat on the couch basking in the glory of the big screen television as I hit ‘play’.
Then three hours vanished into the ether without so much as a blink of an eye getting squeezed in. It was like time travel into the future where you arrive at your temporal destination with nothing more than what you left with but you’ve lost a decade. I lost a afternoon and was only pulled out of the void by the arrival home of my wife with baby and toddler and pram and bags in tow.
And immediately, there was a problem.
My wife looked, shall we say, a little piqued. I could only imagine the afternoon she must have had looking after the boys given her fatigue and persistent lack of sleep and I of course didn’t improve the situation by continuing to recline on my couch in a very Roman sort of fashion with the PS3 wireless controller in my hands.
Now I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t just switch everything off and leap into action to take over from her. I can only assume that the few hours of PS3 that I had imbibed, had somehow blunted my capacity to recognize a potentially hazardous situation and take corrective action to avoid it.
Inevitably over the course of the next thirty minutes or so my wife, quite justifiably, boiled over and the net result was that the PS3 was closed into the cabinet under the television and was not touched (literally) for four years.
Time passed and our situation changed where we now have two little guys aged six and four who are always looking for new and interesting forms of entertainment. Their grandparents, having recently returned from an overseas trip to visit my brother in-law and his wife and two children arrived home with literally a suitcase full of Lego and PS3 accessories and games in tow.
Yes. True story. PS3 games.
It seems though that I still haven’t learnt anything. Immediately I went out and bought more accessories for the PS3. My boys and I played the infernal thing for four hours straight this past Sunday and this time when we time-travelled, because it’s winter, we arrived at our destination in the dark.
The difference now though is that my wife understands it all. She understands the promise of PlayStation, where our boys can play together (literally side by side watching the same split screen) without uttering a single clamorous shout for Mom or Dad to do anything for them. She understands the giggles and yelps of excitement as lightsabers and Wookiee’s and Droids do battle. She understands the quirky little shuffle the little guy does while standing up with the camote trol (remote control) in his hands and running on the spot to speed up the superhero avatar he’s playing on screen. She understands that this is what I got a glimpse of four years ago.
And she looked upon the PlayStation and saw that it was good.