Let me tell you a quick story about Super Mario Brothers and how much smarter my son is than I am (Those of you who know me won’t be a bit surprised to hear that a kindergartener’s intellect surpasses mine—*rimshot*).
We have this weekly tradition where we wait for his little sister to fall asleep (she sleeps on the bottom bunk; the baby has her own room because we want to start our four-year-old’s middle child resentment as early as possible). When sister is good and sacked, my son sneaks out to the room where I’m writing and then leans against me with this sly grin on his face. “She’s asleep, Daddy,” he announces. And so begins our hour-long Wii extravaganza.
We were playing Super Mario Brothers and found ourselves in some sandy milieu. Those of you who know Mario know that, in this version of the game at least, you choose the next challenge by hustling around a map screen. After Dash (my son’s alias) and I defeated a particularly tricky array of Koopas (What do you call a group like that? A Koople? A kill of Koopas? The Kooparati?), I automatically headed for the newly-illuminated pathway where a brand-new challenge awaited.
My son looks at me and asks, “Where are you going?”
I nod at the television. “To the next phase, of course.” (I’m hardcore when it comes to Mario—seriously, you don’t wanna stand between me and Princess Peach.)
“But I want to go down,” Dash says.
I stare at him incredulously. “But we beat that level like a half hour ago.”
“So?” Dash says. “It was fun.”
“But we beat it already,” I say to him as though he’s suggesting we eat cigarette butts and gravel.
“I know,” he says with a shrug. And then he utters the words that finally shatter my thick-headed adult stubbornness: “But Daddy…I like it.”
“Oh,” I say.
And slowly, comprehension dawns.
One of my biggest flaws is thinking too far ahead. I had a novel come out this week, a debut novel called THE SORROWS, to be exact. It’s selling well. The initial feedback has been very positive. But…
I need to schedule this interview, and I need to check this forum, and I need to get back to this reviewer, and I need to see what my wife thinks of this scene (she hasn’t read the completed book yet), and I need to work on the novel I’m getting ready to send out to agents, and I need to work on this other novel I’m not yet done with, and I need to—
I need to chill the hell out and enjoy myself.
Thanks for the lesson, Dash. And thank you, Mario. You handsome mustachioed male soprano you.