"I NEED A GUN!! I have guns - but I need better guns!!" I yelled. My family laughed and I was vaguely aware of that completely out-of-character exclamation being captured on video. It will join the collection of other videos taken of me and my sons yelling about guns and eliminations.
"Get the sniper riffle, you already have a pump shot-gun" and "He shot me in the head" or "You better die soon because the bus is coming in 5 minutes" are NOT things I ever imagined would be said in my house - especially by me, this liberal, gun-control, pacifist hippie. But guess what? I have a 5th grade boy. And like 5th grade boys all over the world - this one LOVES Fortnite. So. I have become a Fortnite mom.
Yes - Fortnite it a first-person shooter game about "eliminating" opponents. So it was originally on my "do not fly" list. But after much insistence for a good reason why he couldn't play, I couldn't find one. There's simply no evidence (AT ALL) that shooting games increase violence tendencies or actions in kids. Which of course, makes sense - most kids play video games at some point. Most kids aren't violent criminals. I was obsessed with Nintendo's Duck Hunt as a kid - definitely did not turn me into a hunter! So I decided to let him try - and I watched....
I found myself liking the likeness to the Hunger Games books. I liked the navigating, searching for loot, building structures. I liked the social aspect of the game (that my kids could play the game with my nephew in another state - or my friend's son who they only see every few months - or their besties). And, I gotta admit - I LOVED the "emoting" (where you can have your characters do hilarious, different dance moves to catchy music) and truly believe Fortnite taught my baby how to dance.
So, the boys played. My almost 11 year old became obsessed. And it wasn't long before he asked me if I wanted to try...
I resisted for awhile (too busy, not my thing, etc.) - and then it hit me. This was a bid for connection.
I've been an Attachment Parent from the moment he was born. Before I knew the phrase existed. Holding my baby close, breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping - all of these felt natural to me as a mother. I learned that my strengths (and my values) were based on establishing intimate, authentic connections with my kids. Those values shaped the way I parented my boys when they were babies, and I want that to continue.
But how connection and attachment look has changed as the kids age. For my 10 month old, it's seen through nursing, structuring my work life to minimize time away from him, by cuddling next to him every night.
For my 10 year old? We use virtual guns to shoot pretend bad guys. And we laugh. A lot.
And... for your viewing pleasure: my baby dancing to Fortnite. You're welcome!