July 25, 2012 Update
I couldn’t do it. I spent all month trying to get a Ruby dragon, and yesterday I got one. The egg was going to hatch today. But Jaryth played the game this morning, and he sped up the incubation (using all my gems) and then sold the dragon egg for gold I didn’t need. When I found myself almost crying because of this, I realized that I needed to stop playing this game.
Dragonvale has been deleted from my iPad, and Jaryth hasn’t realized yet. I’m sure when he figures out that it’s gone, he’s going to scream bloody murder. But I couldn’t stand feeling angry at him over an animated image. No game is worth that.
It’s great fun having a son. I love it and him very much. I love watching him learn and achieve new things. The latest achievement is being able to put his head underwater. Just 3 weeks ago that seemed like a hopeless thing and now he does it with ease:
But what’s even more surprising to me are the things I learn from him. Like today I learned that I’m competitive (which I already knew) and that I attach a bit more importance on stupid things than I should. No, let’s be honest here, I attach too damn much importance on things that don’t matter at all.
Here’s the Story
I play this silly collecting game called Dragonvale. In it, you raise baby dragons, breed them and create hybrid dragons. You can feed them to make them grow bigger and you can use gems (which are very hard to get) to speed up things like their growth or incubation or just to buy the dragons.
Jaryth loves this game. He loves collecting the money (different from gems) that you can use to buy more mundane items like decorations, roads, and dragon habitats. And he loves selling all the things I’ve bought over the months I’ve been playing.
But what he loves to do most is to breed two dragons, then use gems (which, as I’ve mentioned, are very hard to get) to speed up the time it takes to breed them. He loves green plant dragons. They cost 100 gold and take 15 seconds to incubate. But he doesn’t want to wait 15 seconds. So he spends a gem (1 gem for up to 59 minutes of incubation time) to speed up the dragon. Then, once the dragon egg is incubated, he sells it for 50 gold.
Net: -50 gold and -1 gem.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
I taught him not to speed up the green dragon eggs, but to just wait the 15 seconds (even a four-year-old can stand waiting 15 seconds!). So I wasn’t losing the gems and felt comfortable letting him play it without me to watch what he was doing. I even got so calm that I had collected 44 gems – and at 50 I was going to buy an upgrade to a building (that you can only buy with gems). I was even considering not buying the upgrade and instead saving 100 gems for something else.
Then he played with it today and when I returned I had 19 gems. I freaked out! I got angry and took the game from him. He started to cry (of course, who wouldn’t?). And I looked at his crestfallen face that had been so happily playing just 3 seconds before—less time than it would take to raise a green dragon egg—and I realized how stupid I was being.
Could I really care more about how a stupid and silly game was working out more than I cared about my son having fun?
So I gave him back the game and I told him he could do whatever he wanted.
It’s still hard. My stomach clenches as his finger hovers over the “sell” button on a rare dragon that I’d spent weeks trying to get. I watched him sell every road on my islands with some disappointment. I forced him to let me try a breeding combo I hadn’t tried before even though he wanted to breed another damn plant dragon.
But at least now I know that I need to learn this.