WOW – ‘A safe place’

We went for a walk today. With a picnic in a backpack. Living in a tiny appartment in a langourous beachside suburb and because of WOW (and teenagehood) we haven’t really walked it together.

He has his hoodie down most of the way, when suddenly, at a bustop, he stiffens, shoves up the hoodie, hurredly crosses the road. A group of boys his age, in the same black hoodies, but smaller, skinnier, surfier.

He mutters something about his reaction being about me being with him in front of those boys but then says ‘this is their beach’. I started the glib mama speak about it being a free country and we can go anywhere. But his words made me think back to my teenage years when an innocuous trip to the supermarket was fraught with terror that you’d be spotted by the tough group and what was I wearing?

So I get that. And we sat and ate in companionable silence (love that phrase) on a grassy knoll just overlooking Tamarama. But not in anyone’s beach turf. And it made me think about how WOW gives him his own place where he can hang with the disembodied voices of his friends, unmolested by surfie dudes. Which is fine, a safe space, an online places where he ‘has a voice’, this is what most counsellors advise, but what about the physicality of bashing against waves, stacking it off your board, flying off a flying fox into the water, or pretend WWF wrestles with your mates? WOW boys don’t get touched often, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Which is why they still need lots of hugs and cuddles. That is something a mouse can’t do.

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WOW 2030

WOW 2030

My worst nightmare

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A list of quick tips

A starting point of quick tips of easing him out of WOW world back to planet earth:

Get him out to eat. In a park, cafe, restaurant. Breathe real air (I think they sometimes forget to breath, like really breath when they are in that airless online world, chew real food, feel real son on their back. And they are more likely to talk too.

Which brings me to; schedule a time to talk, and don’t accept ‘just after this raid Mum’. No, set a time to eat, to do weights. To do housework. Set a timer on their phone.

And speak softly to them. Their tender ears are used to being covered by snug ear muffs, your voice can jar them. My son even had little scabs from where the head phones rubbed.

Make them houseproud.  They spend so much time doing mundane boar killing, they can do some boaring stuff in the real world. It is really funny to see how skillful they are in their screen world, flying and landing dragons with dextrous ease and yet, folding a teatowel or wiping a dish causes them clumsy consternation.

Give them things to look forward to. Because they seem so happy where they are, you might sometimes forget to organise special dinners or movie outings or ANYTHING. Keep in mind, that no matter what they think, their WOW world is NOT normal. In that world they do not need to eat or drink, but in the real world they do.

Get them into cooking. Sifting flour, chopping nuts, smelling the frying of onions, they need their senses of smell and touch and sound activated.

Take them to the bush. Real camping. REAL forests, not a flat planed digitally generated wilderness that they inhabit at night from the safety of their warm loungeroom. A forest with leaves and loam. Maybe even real beasts who may not be as fang-face terrifying, but they need to learn about the REAL fear of a black or brown snake.

Buy a yoga ball. I am onto my third ball with my son. At least they have to balance and use their muscles slightly to keep them balanced. In the interim between the bursting of the last one and the purpchas of the new, I noticed how awkward my son was on a real chair, it did not move with him.

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A Mum’s battle with WOW.

My son has shifted most of his life, instead of the millions of square kilometres of the earth at his disposal to the 20 x 30 cm screen world of WOW. He started his onlife life at 7 after our divorce on WOW lite- Runescape and now has graduated to the big time, which engenders an almost 10 hr per day committment (if he is not rudely interrupted by real life.

This frustrates me no end (understatement) and this blog is to document our journey to get him LIVING in the real world instead of just ‘existing’ in it and ‘getting through’ his days before he can return to the comfort of WOW.

As a singleparent his WOW world has affected my world greatly, so it will be a learning journey for us both. We all live in our own fantasy worlds. I know I have one too, I want us to both grasp REALITY together as much as we can. Can we fulfill this critical quest together as he starts from 14 and me from 39?!



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