What I Hate About Fortnite

My usual calm and compliant nine-year-old turns into a different boy when armed with his controller and headset.  He automatically adopts the persona of a testosterone-fuelled, alpha-male as he struts the Fortnite Terrain with his team by his side.

This is what I despise the most.

It isn’t gaming as such.  In moderation, as with anything, I don’t mind it at all.  In fact, I think it can be a welcome form of relaxation for children who are growing up in a busy and chaotic world.  Of course, I would much rather they engaged in something more ‘wholesome’ like reading, playing outside or board games but this just isn’t the world my kids are living in.  Gaming is a key player in our leisure time.  My husband enjoys it and we have lived quite happily side by side with Minecraft, Fifa and Forza.

However, Fortnite is a different story.

Not only does my nine-year-old play but my other two children also play.  My thirteen-year-old daughter who usually spends time in the world of health and beauty and my football mad 12-year-old have succumbed to the lure.  The older ones play, probably once a day, and fortunately are able to moderate the length and frequency.  They’ll nip in for half an hour and then potter off to do something else.  They laugh and joke as they play.

That is fine.

What worries me is the hold it has on my nine-year-old and the way it turns him into a different person.  One without reason, kindness or compassion.  As soon as he gets permission to play you can immediately see the excitement and adrenalin starting to build.  If the game is delayed because of an update you can literally see the steam coming out of his ears.  And then he’s on.  We then have a good five minutes of him calling his friends to play.  Once they have established their team the mission begins and his Fortnite alter-ego emerges.  During gameplay he dictates and demands, declares and despairs.  The result of his complete absorption in the game leaves him in a trance like state.  He’s never experienced this intense range of emotions before.

He can’t manage it.  He can’t cope with it.

As soon as I feel as though the emotions of gameplay are starting to take a grip without him being able to control it, I intervene and dictate that the game over.  Following the obvious protest he surrenders and after about five minutes and our happy, funny and calm boy returns.

This is what I hate about Fortnite.  It changes my boy.

There has been an abundance of research about the effect of gaming on behaviours and attitudes which I have always taken with a pinch of salt.  However, having now experienced the immediate impact of gameplay on my son my viewpoint has changed.

Personally, I can’t wait for this current fad to fade into the history books.  For parents out there who are experiencing the same, you are not alone.  Every day I will continue to restrict despite his protest.

If we all work towards limiting their gameplay maybe we can bring about the demise of Fortnite?

Who’s up for it?

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My Child Has Cancer: Things You Could Do And Say By Those Who Know

This is written from the hearts of over 50 parents of children with cancer. 

These words are borne from heartache, love and experience.

What you do and say makes this thing a whole lot better for me.  You…

You…

  • Keep in regular contact and adopt a ‘no fuss approach’. Thank you.
  • Talk to me about my child’s cancer.  I need to talk about it.  It’s a huge part of our life now.  Thank you.
  • Pick up the siblings, drop off groceries or prepare a meal.  You take out our bins on bin day, cut the grass, wash the car.  Thank you.
  • Ask if you could go to my house before I come home from the hospital to give it a clean.  We don’t really need this but it is so specific and I can see you want to do something practical.  You wash my bed linen instead.  Thank you.
  • Play with my child so that I can pop out for some fresh air or go for a shower.  Thank you.
  • Are there for ME.  You love my child but you are the only one who makes me feel normal!  You are also the first person to check in if he’s not doing OK.  Thank you.
  • Overwhelm me with an outpouring of love, understanding and empathy.  Thank you.
  • Set up a meal train for our kid’s lunches.  It is so nice to know that so many people want to help. I even had a mum say that her heart was filled with love when she made those lunches. Thank you.
  • Arrange a meal train so that every Monday there is a lovely home cooked meal for us.  If you had offered I would’ve said no.  Thank you.
  • Prepare food and meals for us which is a huge stress relief especially with lots of hospital stays! You cut our grass if summertime.  Thank you.
  • Phone to check in and to see if we need anything from the store.  Thank you.
  • Send cards and little gifts and include all the siblings as you know they tend to get pushed aside when a brother or sister has cancer.  Thank you.
  • Pay for an ironing lady to do two black bags of ironing. You just gave me her number and said just call her when you’re ready.  Thank you.
  • Gave me a couple of Costa gift cards…for coffee at the hospital, or if I just wanted to escape for a quiet cuppa etc.  Thank you.
  • Sent my child an iTunes gift card to download games or films etc.  Thank you.
  • Made up a parcel of PJs and toiletries both for me & my child.  Thank you.

Please don’t…

  • Do nothing and ignore me “because I didn’t know what to say.”  I would rather people say the wrong thing than saying nothing at all.
  • Excuse not texting because you think ‘we have a lot on.’
  • Ignore my other children.  It is lovely that you ask how my child with cancer is and how I am but please also think about my other children and my partner.
  • Say, “we have been following your child’s daily plight on Facebook”.  We don’t journal extensively on FB so I know that it’s just a platitude.
  • Say “let us know the next time your child is in the hospital as we would like to visit.”  And then not turn up.
  • Say, “Well I didn’t want to bother you because you seem like you have loads on …”
  • Tell me stories about grandparents, uncles, acquaintances you know who had cancer which is totally unrelated and who aren’t children.
  • Say, “don’t worry it will all be fine, he will be fine, he is a fighter.”  I know you say it because you don’t know what else to say but no one can see the future where cancer is concerned.

What surprised me …

  • I thought were my closest friend but you haven’t been there … not even a text.  People who I didn’t really know have been amazing.
  • A journey like this has shown me who my real friends are and it has also introduced me to new friends.
  • My friends of 20 years never once helped me or popped in to make sure I was OK.  I found those who I’ve known longer didn’t want to be there.
  • Someone very close to me never asked how my child was doing but a new friend from school came to the hospital and brought a goody bag of little things for my child and her sibling which filled them with delight.  That meant a whole lot.
  • You get to see the true colours of friends and family.
  • The friends and family we thought would be there for us have been nowhere to be seen. No phone calls or texts.
  • It’s been a very interesting learning experience of people’s behaviour. As others have said, I have been amazed at the kindness and generosity of people – some who were friends and some who we hardly knew. I have also felt a little disappointed/surprised by others, but luckily that’s in the minority.

In summary, here are a few wishes …

  • I wish friends and family would just ‘do’ rather than wait to be asked.  We have so much to think about, we don’t really know what we want.  Plus (for us as a family) we don’t find asking for help easy as it makes us feel like we’re failing in some way.  Simple things like cooking a meal, offering to babysit, hospital visits, listening to us rant, cards through the post, actually getting in contact rather than a ‘we are always thinking of you’.
  • Please be more proactive and specific, not vague.  Some friends said, “hope to see you soon” whereas others said, “when can I visit? Tues, Wed or Fri are good for me.”  Guess which one I text back first and arranged to see?
  • If you are offering to help, please don’t be too polite.  I haven’t got the time or energy to encourage people to come or worry if they’ve been pushed out of line in the pecking order of visitors.
  • Please understand that when we say we are OK we aren’t.  Little things make all the difference.  Normal life goes out the window.  At the beginning, I was so busy concentrating on what was happening I forgot to eat.
  • When you visit me in the hospital, turn up with food!  One visitor brought me a big box of mince pies.  If I’d popped into the shop myself I’d probably not have chosen them because making decisions about what to eat when your poorly child can’t eat anything without vomiting is difficult.  Those mince pies were lovely.
  • Some friends/coworkers are afraid to bug me because I must be so busy.  In actuality, during treatment, there is lots of waiting and downtime that are better filled with connecting with people than more worrying. Stay connected with me!
  • When our child was diagnosed, my head was spinning with thousands of things that needed to be done.  Ask me for a list!
  • Don’t forget the siblings.
  • I really wish some people would have texted more often just to see how we were or to chat for a little about anything. It was pretty lonely being in there with little interaction with the outside world.
  • I’m not gonna ask for help, so offer to do something specific, on a specific day. Then I can just say yes please or no thanks.
  • Keep asking how my child and family are doing. Being over a year into treatment my child *looks* “normal” but if anything I am finally coming out of the fog of just getting by during that first year of treatment and still need support. I am eternally grateful for the people who always check in on me regularly because sometimes, they check on that one day when I really needed to know I’m not alone.
  • Invite me to normal social events.
  • So what do we need…company.  Either in the ward or drop by the house when we are low in energy.  We crave actual conversation & laughter but also for you to listen and develop an actual understanding of this world.
  • The thing I would’ve loved most is a few homemade dishes sent up in Tupperware to the hospital as I got completely fed up with the limited choices and fast food.
  • DO anything, something, whenever… send a note (send one a month), let us know we are on your mind even if we don’t know you (friend of a friend sent the nicest card), keep sending notes months/years past diagnosis, acknowledge that THIS SUCKS every part of it sucks, every part. I have been so blessed and let’s not kid ourselves money has helped the most with copays, food, and gas etc. but I have been most touched by the personal notes and stories of encouragement that seem to appear at just the right time.

 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this blog so openly and honestly.

Many of us are on a long, bumpy road and we would like to thank everyone who has and continues to support and love us.  

We couldn’t do it without you!

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