They’re the three words a dad doesn’t want to hear from his daughter.
“It’s complicated, dad.” When did I lose touch? When did I become irrelevant? At what point did the things that matter in my daughter’s life slip off my radar; so far that when I try to regroup, attempt to understand, she could just shake her head and gives up on me?
This wasn’t a Hallmark movie conversation with my teen about boy drama.
It wasn’t with my 11-year-old about her own developing life. This happened on a lazy Saturday morning, when dad decided, yes, he will take a shot at Mario Brothers with a 7-year-old.
Mind you, it’s not the first time I’ve played ‘modern’ video games.
I know how to hold a Wii controller. Usually. I know about lives and worlds and that mushrooms and turtles are bad and gold coins and flowers that flash are good. Beyond that? There was schoolin’ to be had.
I peppered her with questions
Hence, the first grader, sighing heavily, and telling me, “It’s complicated, dad.”
I was asking about Yoshi (the green dragon I suddenly rode), and then … How can you throw both ice and fire balls? Which button are you supposed to push for either one? How are you supposed to know when to “bubble up?”
I peppered her with questions, I realize.
It wasn’t until I asked how come I could hop off Yoshi’s back and nail him with a fireball, but he wouldn’t die, that she finally put my curiosity in its place. “It’s complicated, dad.” Yes, it is.
I was too young to be a pinball wizard, but I also wasn’t very good at all at Pitfall.
And all you needed was arrow keys. The Wii remote has directional keys, an A and B button and a couple more, I believe. I’m not sure. You can also wiggle it. Seriously? Back in my day, it was a joystick and a button.
And you hardly used the button.
My worlds had one world in them
Back then, it was me, blowing a modest fistful of quarters bumbling around the first two levels of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Frogger. No high scores. No multiple worlds. No cars or characters unlocked.
No wonder Mario Brothers is too complicated.
Not so much for Marie, age 11. She’s bounced off a few monster centipedes, outfoxed an angry, armored turtle beast, and rescued a princess with considerable fanfare. Impressive. She cuts through worlds and villains the way I do pizza slices.
She’s the girl who will someday pick up a golf club and say, “Hmm, what’s this?” then probably hit a hole-in-one.
She puts the remote down after her victory.
Me: What now, Marie?
Marie: What do you mean?
Me: What do you have to do next? You just saved the princess.
Marie: Nothing. I’m done.
Marie: (sigh) Yes. I did all the levels.
Me: All of them??
Marie: (sigh No. 2) Yes. I’m finished.
Me: I am too, Marie.
I am, too.