On gaming and boredom (or baby chronicles: Part Eight)

I’m not sure if I should consider this a regression, a coping mechanism, or simply flexing parts of my personality that haven’t moved in years.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I have been playing lots of Go, the ancient strategy board game, with my friends and father. Before that, I compared the grappling practice of Jiu-Jitsu to the computer strategy game StarCraft. Over Thanksgiving, my brother gifted me a Nintendo Switch, a video game system, to enjoy between caring for Joonsu.

The first month of Joonsu’s life, there wasn’t much time or space for gaming. A few sleepless nights in the hospital immediately following his birth got me acquainted with the new system and controls. However, since returning home we have been largely watching television and playing hot potato with our little potato.

Now, coming on six weeks of life, both Mackenzi and I have a sense of confidence in baby-care. He can nap for a few hours here or there to allow us to practice some movement, finish up some chores, or engage in some mindless phone scrolling. I’ve taken to playing some video games in these moments of dullness.

A few months back, I couldn’t imagine allowing myself to stare at the television screen while I have a new baby in the home. And there are parts of me that continue to feel this way. However, the realities of extended paternity leave diverge greatly from my expectations.

The (sometimes) quiet weeks with Joonsu, Mackenzi, and Honey have allowed us to settle into and determine our family’s routines and rhythms for the coming years. However, there is a psychedelic quality to this time. It all started with a big bang, the birth of Joonsu. Followed by a few hectic and circadian-blind weeks adapting to the new responsibilities of parenthood. Now that we are building up our endurance, I am finding myself a bit bored.

When he gets upset, I bounce him. When he poops, we change him. When he sleeps, we quietly scurry around the house to complete our activities unburdened by his 12# floppy body.

What do I do when I’m not doing that? I don’t have an exam for which to study, unlike the past three and a half years of my life. My return to the clinic will be slow and relaxed, so I have no high intensity rotation to prepare. Life is slow and it is lovely.

So I have begun playing video games again. I miss the hand-eye coordination required for first person shooters, skills honed in high school and college. I missed the well-designed puzzles and levels of adventure games. I fondly remember playing Zelda on the N64 as a middle-schooler, and I am enjoying the newest iteration of this series on the Switch. And I missed talking smack with my friends as we fought each other in Super Smash Brothers.

Mackenzi enjoys watching me play and back-seat gaming, advising me on routes to take and approaches to attempt. One day, I hope to play with Joonsu and show him the games of my childhood. I am sure he will roll his eyes and feel quite bored at the lack of quality compared to his generation’s graphics and design.

I sincerely look forward to his sass.

For now, we have another day of nothing much to do except hangout as a family and enjoy our time together. We will probably never have this much relaxed time together until retirement. I have to tell myself this regularly, to allow the passage of time and enjoy the boredom because the next few years will be anything but boring.

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