April 2007

Wizards and dragons and orcs - oh, my!

By Suzanne Strazza

“Do you know how many hip points a dragon-slayer-slicer-creature has?”

“I don’t know honey (translate to ‘I could give a rat’s ***, honey’). I know my hips are gaining points every day.”

“Ugh. Mom. Not hip points… HIT points.” (My 9-year-old now proves he has mastered the teenage I’m-so-disgusted- with-my-nerd-mother look.)

The conversation continues, solely because it’s important to talk about how talented these creatures are at destroying other gross creatures.

Actually, I think that “monsters” is the correct terminology.

Kill. Slay. Behead. Freeze. Power. Dungeon Master. Spell. Evil. Slaughter. Crush.

The lexicon of my current life.

I have never felt so lost in my very own world.

What has happened is that my boys (key word here) have discovered Dungeons and Dragons, as have all of their friends. Their minds now crawl around in dark dank places that smell of dragon farts and decay.

Color my world black, gray, and here and there a splash of blood red. I hear that there is more to D&D than killing but that at this young age all kids can comprehend is the mass slaughter. I also hear that girls do not spend the majority of their time plotting the death of their siblings and best friends.

I have always been thankful that I am not raising prissy daughters because I am not prissy and I wouldn’t know what to do with a girlie girl. But, the reality is that right now, cheerleading, My Pretty Pony and teenage-boy-meets-girl movies are looking really good.

(Actually, those movies have always been my favorites, regardless of who my children are.)

We are a peaceful family. We do not play with guns, we do not ride machines that make loud noises. We are anti-violence, anti-cruelty, and certainly antikilling. We have raised our boys to be kind to all living things; just this morning, as a family, we escorted a HUGE black widow outside to a better life in the woodpile.

Then, completely against our will, the boys have become mercenaries, going on wild killing sprees, slaughtering, slaying and reveling in the thought of spurting blood.

“But I thought we liked dragons?”

“Not if they’re EVIL, Mom.”

Oh. I should have known better.

After the boys first experienced D&D at their friend’s house, they begged me for it. It was the day after Christmas and I explained that this was an inappropriate time to be asking for more things. They decided there and then that they would save up their money and buy it for themselves.

I, of course, had no faith that they would, but prove me wrong… within a month, they had worked hard and earned enough extra money to make the grand purchase. Shortly after it arrived in the mail, they asked Tom and me to play. Groaning, but wanting to appear interested and supportive parents, we said “sure.”

We were assigned characters, and told where to put them on the board.

That was the last thing that I understood. After a few times of Bowen (Dungeon Master) telling us that we were doing battle again and rolling the 200-sided die, Tom and I began to fade out. The boys were so intent that they didn’t notice our absence in the least.

I tried to embrace what my children are interested in, but embarrassingly, it’s way too far over my head.

So, not only is D&D too violent for my liking, but it also makes me feel really stupid.

No wonder I hate it.

Recently, a high-school student that I know told me about a friend of his that was so into the game that he couldn’t differentiate between reality and fantasy. He so seriously believed that he was a powerful wizard that he stood in front of a semi thinking that it couldn’t hurt him.

Lord help me – is this my future?

When we kick the boys outside, away from the playing board, they continue the theme via live action. They have created a gang, Skull Clan, whose sole purpose is to forge weapons and run around with said weapons in hand, pretending to rid the world of all evil. They wear ripped-up white sheets with skulls drawn on them and black headbands. Armor is always an added bonus. They are obsessed with the time of knights; they call it medieval, as in “We’re playing Medieval” or “I wish I lived in Medieval.”

This is one battle I clearly cannot win. All I can do is hope that soon they will obsess about something a bit more up my alley. I just hope this phase doesn’t last as long as the Dark Ages.

Suzanne Strazza is a writer in Mancos, Colo.