Sunday, February 21, 2010

How to raise kids and assassinate people

Holding my breath, I reached for the PlayStation 3 controller like a silent assassin, being careful not to alert the sleeping infant on my lap. A good assassin never draws unwanted attention. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from the ten minutes of Assassin’s Creed II I’ve been able to play since receiving it for Christmas an eternity ago.

A question every new father eventually has to ask himself is this: Am I spending enough quality time with my PlayStation? The answer, of course, is that there’s no such thing as enough, but that hardly matters when you’re spending the majority of your days scraping Gerber oatmeal off your pants.

My wife Kara was away for the day, trying on bridesmaid dresses for her friend’s wedding this summer, leaving our son Evan with me for a big father/son bonding day. My enthusiasm for creating lasting memories with my son was somewhat tempered by the fact that he won’t remember anything that happens for at least the next two years. As much as his gummy smile turns my heart into a puddle of single-grain rice mush, if a pack of wolves took over the parenting responsibilities from this point on, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t notice the difference, except maybe that his new den was awfully clean.

While I’d planned to spend Evan’s precious naptime that day assassinating bad guys in Renaissance Italy, the real drama and intrigue was occurring at David’s Bridal, a place that must witness more arguments than your average Supreme Court justice. I’d discuss this topic in further detail, but it’s much safer to wade naked into a piranha tank than into someone else’s wedding drama.

I carefully pulled the PlayStation controller in front of me, gently pressing the power button. Catching Evan during a nap is the rarest of opportunities, one that fleetingly presents itself only to those who are patient and attentive, like the flower of a night-blooming cereus, but way more beautiful. It was a golden moment, one not likely to be repeated before the cows came home under a blue moon that was eclipsed by flying pigs that were being struck twice by lightning while mixing several metaphors.

You might be thinking, “Well, does he also nap when Hades freezes over?”

Maybe, but due to the opinion espoused by certain spousal units, I’m not allowed to say “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” in our house anymore, despite the fact that it’s not a bad word, and that anybody who employs the phrase “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” not in the service of making fun of someone else who said “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” deserves to catch a hockey stick in a place that, if recorded and submitted to America’s Funniest Home Videos (which seems to still exist somehow), would result in much merriment and laughter for everyone but the nearly sterilized person rolling around on the floor.

In any event, pressing the power button had no effect.

“No,” I whispered out loud, pressing the button again. And again. After frantically tapping it a hundred more times, I was confronted with the cold reality that the batteries, like my hopes and dreams, were dead.

I wanted to turn towards the heavens with my arms outstretched, shouting, “NOOOOOOO!” as the rain poured on my face and the camera ascended into the sky, but that definitely would have woken up the baby.

Pathetic times call for pathetic measures, so I attempted the unthinkable: moving a sleeping baby. Gingerly lifting him off my lap, I moved him to the next couch cushion as if I was handling high explosives, which in many respects I was, especially if you count his most volatile orifices.

In the end, using the power cord for the controller, I successfully rekindled my relationship with the PlayStation for a solid ten minutes, before my indefinite suspension from the game began again. If you’re a bad guy in Italy, you should send Evan a thank-you note.

You can sneak up on Mike Todd at

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