Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Game of Life: No Cheat Codes Available

> N
You are in the NURSERY.
> look
There is a CRIB here. You hear a PURRING SOUND.
> i
You are carrying a BABY.
> put baby in crib
You cannot put the baby in the crib.
> examine crib
There is a CAT in the crib. It is purring in its sleep.
> remove cat from crib
There is an INDIGNANT CAT on your feet.
> put baby in crib
You are in the NURSERY. There is a CRIB here. There is a BABY in the CRIB. There is an INDIGNANT CAT that gives your ankle an annoyed nibble.

At a ripe old four weeks of age, our daughter is too young for games of any kind.  Peek-a-boo doesn't quite take when you've only barely learned to focus on anything, and as she hasn't yet figured out the whole "hands" thing, toys are still a bit of a non-starter.  (Though we are getting there quickly, on both counts.)

For me, on the other hand, my whole life has become something of a game.  It's an endless one, and the kind that's more perversely difficult than it is entertaining.  It's a series of puzzles, a sequence of boss fights where the rules keep changing every time you think you've mastered a skill.

There are definite elements of Tetris. If I put the support pillow *here* and the blanket *there* and the baby *just like this* then I can hold all the things at once... at least until I have to open the door.

Sometimes it's a racing game (perhaps the Rainbow Road track from Mario Kart). If I find a pacifier, and prop it in *just so*, then I can race to the bathroom and back and beat the clock, returning to scoop her up before she notices she's been left alone and cries.

Mainly, though, I've started thinking of my daily life in terms of the clear meters of The Sims. How hungry am I? How badly do I need to pee? Have I slept in the last three days? Showered this week? She is napping for thirty minutes -- which meters are the most urgent? I'll handle those first.

Guybrush, meanwhile, has decided he is all about the escort missions.

In this time of profound upheaval, I find myself turning to games with clear rules for a touchstone of sanity.  A half-hour a day of Civ V (which is easy to play one-handed, while holding or nursing an infant) keeps me feeling human in the same way that Law and Order marathons (my background noise, of late) find me getting alienated and detached.  It is hard to stay in and of the world while parenting a newborn.  For me, much of my world has been gaming.  And if Alexander the Great is unpredictable (he isn't; the bastard will always backstab during a declaration of friendship, if you have land he wants), he's got nothing on a baby -- a baby who is, at this moment, apparently bound and determined to punch herself in the face as much as possible.

Parenting is not a game, of course.  If it were, there would be cheat codes or hacks available.  I could increase time or decrease the need for sleep, increase money and space or decrease need for food.  Mainly, though, if I could only have one cheat code right now I think I would use "decrease_newborn_gas."  Then she wouldn't wake herself up all the time from farting, and everyone would be a lot happier.  Or at least better-rested, which in the end adds up to the same thing.

If someone could just tweak the collision plane on the crib so the cat can't get in, though, that would help for now.

4 comments:

  1. Alexander the Great is a punk, but he's got nothing on Gandhi, who will shank you at whim for any reason at all.

    The cheat code of choice where I reside is "increase_sleep_length" ... naps long enough for you to get an hour and a half as well are rare and golden.

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  2. The baby and cat can't both fit in the crib at the same time? :(

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  3. Not until the baby is old enough to fight off the cat if he should attempt to get a little too close and smother her.

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  4. don't forget about solving the babel fish dispenser trap! ...what?
    P.S. CONGRATULATIONS and stay healthy/safe/happy

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