Not every day is a happy day at the Harris house. Sometimes, there is great sadness...
For Christmas, Eddie got a new Nintendo DS Lite, a gameboy-type system. With it, he received what I think must be the perfect game for Eddie: Nintendogs. This game is one of those virtual pet games that only the Japanese could have invented. In it, you maintain a collection of puppies in your virtual home. You love them, feed them, and walk them. (Though they never poop, lacking any visible orifices or genetalia! I wish real dogs were like this!) In the game, you can earn money by taking your dogs to agility events and winning prizes. This enables you to buy even more dogs.
What's more, you can link up wirelessly with a friend and share breeds and doggy accessories. This is good, since Gabi has a version of the same game with different breeds. She and Eddie are able to share dogs that they wouldn't have had otherwise.
This is all very much suited to our sensitive, nonviolent Eddie. He loves the game. So much in fact that he has several times eschewed the kisses from his real dog, Frank, shoving poor Frank aside so that he can operate his stylus in the game properly without distraction.
But unfortunately, there is a down side to the game. It will only let you have a set number of dogs at one time--five I think. After that, you have to sell or donate a dog back to the dog pound. (Ouch.) So Eddie is of course torn between keeping and loving all his little critters and the lust to get new dogs.
Last night, while Becky and I were at separate meetings at the church, the boys were in the youth room playing their gameboys, as usual. All seemed well, and we heard nary a peep from them. After my meeting adjourned, I walked into the hall, and Eddie had is trademark "about to erupt with sorrow" face on. Luke started to say something to me about what was going on, but Eddie shushed him, "No, Luke! Don't say it! I will tell him later!" And then Eddie stormed out of the hall to leave the church.
I set Luke down on the stairs and went after Eddie.
"What happened?" I asked, kneeling down on one knee. I was worried he had done something bad, and needed to apologize for it.
Eddie looked at me and told me that he had accidentally donated one of his dogs. Apparently, he was considering the donation of Max, his prized Shiba Inu, and he just wanted to see how much he would get for him. Just curious. The gameboy warned him that once he clicked "yes", the dog would be gone forever. Before he knew it, or maybe he knew it and then later regretted it, he must have clicked the "yes" confirmation.
Eddie broke into heavy sobs, "My dog is gone! He's gone, and I loved him and I cared for him and he's gone! I will never see him again!"
He was now in full out misery and wailing mode, so all I could do was comfort him as best I could, and load both boys up into the car to go home. (Becky's meeting was still going on.)
All the way home, Eddie sobbed, regretting the loss of Max. I tried to comfort him with words like, "Don't worry, son, I'm sure we can find a cheat code to get the dog back."
"No," he said, "the screen said he would be gone forever." More sobs.
Christ, I'm thinking, this is just a game! But not to Eddie. Try to be sensitive.
As we rolled into the garage, Luke spoke up for the first time since the church. Now sobbing as well, Luke said, "Stop talking about it! Now you're making me sad!"
Both boys were now completely sobbing.
"Go on into the house," I said, "Get ready for bed."
Jeez, what the hell was I to do?
"Go upstairs, boys, and brush your teeth and get your jammies on."
Maybe that would distract them a bit. I added, "If you do it quickly, brush your teeth in two minutes and get dressed in two minutes, I will read you a chapter from Matilda. If not, it's already after bedtime, so it'll be straight to bed."
Maybe the incentive to read from Matilda would prove useful. They love that book.
Well, the distraction proved useful, as both boys were very obedient in getting ready for bed. Within minutes they were perched on my bed, ready for stories, yet still snuffling.
I settled myself onto the bed between the boys, book in hand. Before I started reading, Eddie asked me, "Dad, do you think we can make a memorial for Max?"
"Sure," I said, "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, maybe we can get a piece of wood, and I can draw a picture of him on it, and put a heart below it, and you can cut it out on your saw."
"Sure, Eddie, no problem. We'll do it on Saturday."
And, so we will.
Then, I read to them.