I eagerly told her that I was sure he could come and even said I would give him daytime allergy medicine to prevent their pet cat from being a problem for him.
Then, the mother sent a follow-up text message to tell me what kind of party it will be, a Halo tournament. I had no idea what Halo was, but she explained that it is a non-gory, fantasy shooting and fighting multi-player game.
I was a bit uneasy when she told me that. I'm quite overprotective and totally anti-gun. (I don't even let the kids play with water guns because I don't want them to think of guns as toys. Yes, I've been told I'm crazy for that one on more than one occasion!)
Later in the day, I looked up the game and found out that it is rated M (Mature) and for ages 17 and up. Troy is 9. I have just started to let him play a few video games rated for ages 10 and up, and that has made me uneasy!
I felt very conflicted. As a result of his autism, Troy does not relate to his peers well and does not have friends. It is not likely that he will be invited to another party for the rest of the year. He loves video games, and though I don't feel comfortable with shooting and violence, I wondered if I should ease up and let him go. What sort of damage could a couple of hours of playing a video game really do? And the opportunity to get to hang out socially with some of his peers is a rare experience!
But I also know Troy better than anyone. I know how impressionable he is. I know how he struggles with his emotions, and a violent video game is not appropriate for him. I know how fixated he becomes on things as well, and I know that he would become obsessed with the game if he were to play it.
I felt like a middle school girl again. What would the boy's mother think of me if I said no to him going? Would she think I was an overprotective, uptight, weirdo? How would she judge me?
Yes, I'm 36-years-old, and I admit that I worried about not being cool!
I told myself to get over it and just be honest. I texted the boy's mother and told her what I had discovered about the game and my concerns. She was understanding and offered a solution so Troy could come to the party anyway. What if he came for the beginning of the party and left before the tournament began?
I knew that would not work. I knew the other kids at the party would be excited to play the game, and Troy would become incredibly angry and upset if I forced him to leave, knowing that they were about to play without him.
I told the mother that I would do further research before making my final determination. So, last night, after the kids were in bed, I sat and watched several videos of people playing Halo. I must say that the graphics were impressive, but the game itself was full of nothing but shooting and guns.
It did not sit well with my soul. The decision was made.
This morning, I texted the mother and told her that after further consideration, Troy would not be attending the party but that I would love if our boys could get together soon.
The anxiety that had weighed me down for over twenty-four hours lifted, and I felt peace, which led me to believe that I had made the best decision for Troy's well-being.
The mother has not responded to my text yet. I do wonder what she is thinking about me, but it doesn't matter.
I know that as a parent, I must do what I believe is right, even when it is difficult.