So, contrary to popular belief, life doesn't end once you become a parent. Neither does role playing. The group I currently play in is predominantly made up of parents, myself included. There might be the odd timeout in the playing to give a timeout, or kiss a child good night, but overall, it works really well. (Though, to be fair, most of the kids are 3ish or over, and my wife watches our two while I play. Which is probably why it works so well. If you’re a parent and want to role play, since it is a time commitment, you do have to base your decision on your own kid, and the availability of care. Sometimes, parents must make sacrifices. It happens.) I’ve become convinced, though, that if you are a parent, or if you regularly take care of children, you’ve a bit of a leg up on other players. Let me show you what I mean:
1.The ability to think on your feet.
There is no way to teach the kind of quick thinking that must take place when you’re driving through city traffic and you hear this sound from your baby in the back. You think all is well, just some gas, but then your wife advises you that the kid leaked. It was so much more than gas. So, you’re driving down the freeway, and you’ve got a messy situation in the back, what do you do? (Yes, this happened to me. I found a little strip mall to pull into to take care of the mess, fortunately we had some towels in the car. Though that part of the seat belt that held the car seat in place was never the same.)
That ability comes in handy in role playing, when you’re facing down a pack of werewolves, with some village people about to be eaten behind them and that evil Mage is just a few rounds away from ending you. You’ve got to make a decision, and fast. Do you run, and leave everyone to die? Do you stay, and die at the hands of the mage? Can you find that third option fast enough to save everyone? Gotta think fast and make a choice. Are you going to ace it every time? No, of course not. But that’s ok, that’s the game. The character makes the choice and you get the fun of dealing with what comes out. Which, oddly enough, is often the fun (or not) of parenting.
2.Watching children develop their character can help develop the character you create.
For whatever reason, I’ve found that this has helped me in the way I think about the characters I play in the game. Perhaps watching a little mind develop and flourish has helped me understand to create a new mind on paper and play it out in the game. Watching this little thing grow in so many marvellous ways also gives a peek into how a character might grow to the point where the game begins and just how that character can still grow throughout the game. You see little elements of that kid’s future character coming to fruition with each passing day, and with each one you come to realize the elements that you can put into your own character. Not to say that you turn that character into a five year old, unless you want to, but that as you observe the child and how they grow, you can add that much more depth to a character.
3.Patience and hard work.
Yeah, being a parent is hard work. No one is going to deny that. If they do, they’re lying, or living in a dream world and quite possibly needs help. Or they’re trying to sell you something. Either way, don’t trust them.
But role playing itself can take patience and hard work. And not just waiting for your turn to do your part of the game, or tell your side of the story. It takes patience to get your character to that point where he or she is everything you wanted in the first place, doing all of these epic things like stopping a charge of monsters with a single spell, or stealing that dagger from the belt of the fat, greasy Count of Sela (or some such). But, before you can do that, you got to put in your time at the lower levels, doing that quick thinking from #1 to do equally epic things with what you got. You got to spend time doing the hard work of getting through all those bad scrapes and messes, the hard work of learning your character, and crafting him or her in just the right way, before something wonderful and memorable comes out. And through all that hard work and patience you come to love and enjoy the character, and might even shed a tear when it’s time to say good bye.
No, role playing doesn’t stop when you become a parent. Nor does life. Even a parent can enjoy role playing, and be a better role player because of it.
Tim lives in Southern Ontario, father of two young girls, and husband to a great lady, that did marry him despite the fact the he told her that he role played, liked Star Trek, Star Wars, made a lightsaber prop, and went as a Jedi for Halloween, in university. Tim has Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sociology and a Master of Divinity, which is only worth letting him serve as a pastor in the Lutheran church.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.