Well, it’s finally happened. The kid’s brain seems to have expanded; while the overwhelming majority of his time, attentions, and desires continue to rest firmly in the video game world, there is now JUST enough brain left over for him to realize that after nearly four months at home with his mother, he’s bored.
So if he’s not actively blowing up other teams or armored reptiles or space aliens (a practice that requires extremely loud screams with his online buds in which he rags on them mercilessly – and one assumes they rag on him – and then everyone howls with laughter), he is wandering the house in search of something.
He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, but I’ll tell you: I kind of dig it. Because mostly what he ends up doing is throwing himself down on the chair in my office to see if I can entertain him at all. We end up talking, which seems otherwise unlikely, given that he’s going to be a senior in college in the fall. We talk cars. We talk about book publishing. We talk (and I stay focused, mostly) about video games.
But what my son loves most is to argue.
How we got on the subject, I can no longer remember – but I found myself in a heated debate with him about the role of doctors in society. This is, as I’m sure you understand, a topic upon which NEITHER of us has even the slightest experience or wisdom – but his eyes began to shine and he sat up straighter. Conflict? Debate? I can call you an idiot? This is Rusty’s mental playground. I hope to hell he ends up in law school.
The premise: Is it a doctor’s responsibility to safeguard, maintain, or regain general health?
I took the positive. Hell, yes – my doctor ought to be the first person I turn to in the low-priority, endless quest to be healthy.
Rusty took the negative. Hell no – a doctor should be able to identify life-threatening conditions and that’s it. If you want to improve your health, you go to Barbara at Body Dynamics. (Rusty’s heard me shout Barbara’s praises ALMOST as often as you have.) You go see a trainer.
“What?! That’s absurd! You think a doctor plays no role in HEALTH??”
“A doctor plays a role in CANCER. Beyond that, get out of my office.”
Oh, a battle for the ages was joined. We hammered at each other like titans at the forge; the valleys rang with the echoes from our volleys. He with mighty Mjolnir balanced on his shoulder, me with Excalibur making tiny, threatening circles in the air above his skull.
It was the best gift I could have given him.
But eventually I wore out. I’m so much older than he is. “Now you’re just making me tired. Go away.”
“Hah! That’s because you know I’m right!”
“You’re absolutely not right. I’m just done with this. Go play a video game.”
“Oh, come on – you think a doctor has time to care about your general health? They get minutes – MINUTES – with a patient. How are they supposed to help you with anything as hard to define as improved health?”
“Get out. Get out of my office. I’m begging you.”
“Well, this is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Bye, Mom.”
Sigh. The worst thing is, I sort of wonder if he isn’t right – and that makes me EVEN MORE tired.
You don’t want to weigh in on this, do you? Do you expect your doctor to safeguard (or restore) your health? Or do you only expect the doctor to stop you from dying? Tell me in the comments. If you agree with me, I’ll tell the kid. If not, he can slaughter digital bad guys in happy ignorance.
Born to argue. Is it time for him to go back to college yet??