Monday, 29 March 2010
On parental guilt and virtual strawberries
Right now I should be out fertilising. Or planting soy beans. Or harvesting strawberries. Nope, I haven’t gone all Felicity Kendall Good Lifeish, my son has hauled me onto Farmville.
There are times when I lack all parental willpower whatsoever and this was one of them. ‘Can I join Facebook, Mum?’ said James.
‘Certainly not,’ said I.
‘But Christian is on it.’
‘Well, whoopee for Christian.’
‘I’ve got 50 friends,’ added Christian with discernible pride.
‘Well, I sincerely hope you know all of them personally,’ said I, feeling very grown-up and responsible (quietly nudging aside the fact that I’ve clean forgotten where I picked up half my own friends on Facebook).
‘Well, I know some of them,’ he said.
Oh, for heaven’s sake. I spent the next hour unpeeling all manner of unsavoury looking types from his profile and giving stern warnings about Internet safety.
Once we’d done that, he showed James his farm. Let’s be quite clear here – it’s an online farm, where crops grow in a day and where the sheep line up neatly. I took a quick look and figured it might be educational – as in managing money, taking responsibility, learning cause and effect.
‘So, can I join? Just to play Farmville?’ said James. ‘It’s educational.’ He knows me too well.
Of course the reality is that it isn’t remotely educational; it’s darned commercial.
‘What’s PayPal, Mum?’ asked James.
Seems that, if you get impatient and can’t wait for weeks to earn your gold coins (to ‘buy’ your pigs and geese and crops and so on) you can pay REAL MONEY to bypass the boring bits. So I suppose there is an element of reality about it after all.
Of course it wasn’t enough for James to have a reasonable farm, he wanted a darn fine farm. Not content with soliciting my friends for manure and building materials, he sneaked onto my PC and joined me up.
I tell you, it’s stressful. ‘Oh dear, Mum. You didn’t harvest your crops, did you? They’re all dead.’
What? Will someone please tell me why I’m feeling guilty about virtual withered strawberries?
Probably because guilt is every working mother’s middle-name.