The Nugget Chronicles: Opinions On Opinions

For those of you who have never experienced the joy in life that is living with a 2-year-old, I’m here to break some news to you gently.

People refer to the “Terrible Twos”. What they really SHOULD be referring to is the “Incredibly Opinionated About Anything And Everything Twos”. Yes, I know that doesn’t really fit on a t-shirt, or as part of a candidate’s stump speech.

But seriously, either Nugget is the best behaved child in the history of the world, or the age of two isn’t really all that bad. What it is, instead, is frustrations being heaped on top of each other, because she’s definitely showing her opinions, and they don’t often make a lot of sense.

Take, for example, an activity that Mama or I are going to do. Most of the time, us doing such things is just fine, and doesn’t meet a word of protest. Every once in a while, Nugget decides that she needs to loudly proclaim how we should not be doing whatever it is we’re in the middle of. Even when that something is eating. Or using the restroom. Or trying to sleep.

So we calmly tell her that she doesn’t get to control what other people do. I’m sure that some point of Nugget’s brain is confused by this, as we’re often telling her what she should and should not do. I’m also fairly certain that she hasn’t quite figured out the household rankings of who gets to tell who what. So she tries, but she will generally relent when it’s pointed out that she doesn’t control us in that way (anyone who has a child knows that said child controls their parents in subtle ways, but that’s neither here nor there). There are also plenty of instances where she decides that picking up is the last thing she wants to do, possibly because she’s concerned that her toys have disappeared forever when they’re put away. There are also times where she dances the exact opposite side of that coin, and decides that she wants to put everything away, even when she’s still supposed to be using it. The most frequent time for Nugget to do that last one is when she’s out at a class. Clearly she knows the importance of impressing people who aren’t family.

I say that it generally isn’t too terrible. Yes, there are frustrating moments, but those frustrations usually abate pretty quickly. However, this past weekend really made it clear why some people constantly talk about the “Terrible Twos”. We were planning on going out for dinner, because tacos sounded pretty good to us, and we knew that Nugget would eat heartily from seasoned meat and rice. Now, this was the first time of the day that we, as a family, were preparing to leave the house, and, because Nugget has recently been finding a new love of running around without clothes, she was still wearing just pants and her diaper, no shirt as of yet.

So, clearly, before we can get tacos, we need Nugget to put on a shirt, right? No problem. It’ll take mere moments, because she likes running around with just a diaper, and she also loves wearing shirts and being told how awesome said shirts are.

Yeah… we clearly forgot that she was going to have opinions. Loudly. For over an hour. Try as we might, we just could not get her into a shirt. We tried to reason with her. We tried to muscle a shirt on, but stopped because we didn’t want her to actually get hurt. We tried to give her a selection of all of her shirts to choose from. We told her that not wearing a shirt meant she wouldn’t get tacos. Through it all, Nugget was adamant, and was not relenting in her stance regarding getting a shirt put on. Finally, it was determined that Mama would go out the door to get food alone, and that Nugget and I would stay at home. This is a pretty big step, because Nugget knows that weekends are when she gets to spend a lot of time with her mother, and any time away is a pretty big, and tear-inducing, deal.

This is where the final tactic came into play, and one that I’m actually still somewhat surprised worked. Upon seeing her mother about to walk out the door, Nugget fell to the floor in tears, crying so hard she was gasping. And yet, we knew we had to remain strong. Instead of letting her get comfort from Mama at that point, I asked again if she was willing to wear a shirt. Sobbing, she nodded her head, let us put a shirt on her, and then took her out to the car. The taco excursion was back on.

Now, to be clear, had she not relented, it would have been a miserable time for me, and for Nugget, as we stayed home while Mama went out to get dinner. This was not an empty threat, but instead a situation where I wanted her to actually see and process the consequences of her decision. And it’s also not something I really want to fall back on too often, because I don’t really like the idea of traumatizing my child.

She clearly doesn’t feel the same back towards us. After all, within mere minutes of being in the car, she loudly proclaimed from her car seat that she was “so happy”, because she was going to get tacos.

Glad you’re happy, sweetheart. Now keep your shirt on, please.

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The Nugget Chronicles: Poppy Thoughts

Yesterday was October 15. It was also Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a day that actually filled me with a jumble of thoughts and feelings, and one that I shied away from writing on, because, well, I’ve got an amazing Nugget that I get to spend so much time with, and I’ve watched her grow from a squishy lump to a pretty confident, self-aware, and opinionated child.

In fact, in some ways, a part of me says that having Nugget in my life means that I don’t get to have those moments of remembrance. After all, I certainly don’t want to take away from those I know personally, and those I’ve only met in passing through the web, that don’t get to hug their children, and maybe never got to. A part of my brain says that, because we’ve got Nugget, that erases any loss experienced before.

That part of my brain is really stupid.

See, having Nugget in our lives doesn’t take away Poppy from us. No, we never got to hold our first child, but she (we’ve always assumed “she”, although we lost her before it was even too early to be able to tell), was there. She was present in our lives, and at the forefront of our thoughts. We became parents when Poppy was created; from that point forward, even if we’d never had another child, Mama and I would have been a mother and father. There was nothing that was going to ever take that away from us, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still think about that first child, what they might be doing now, what their personality would be, and how much trouble they’d be getting into.

I think that’s a good thing, and I truly believe that’s important. We’re getting ready to usher another new life into this world (due right around Christmas, for those playing at home), and we’re incredibly excited about what’s going to come down the pipe. But neither of those children remove the concept and knowledge of Poppy from us. In fact, just a few days ago, Nugget was talking about how she could see her sister. Given that the impending new baby is a boy, that caused pause, and we immediately believed she was talking about Poppy. Now, when asked to give us a description, Nugget described Anna from Frozen, but still, that moment brought the whole range of emotions surrounding Poppy’s short time back to the forefront of my thoughts.

I said above that, from the moment Poppy was conceived, we became a mother and a father. I truly, deeply believe that. It doesn’t matter if you’ve carried a child on your back, in your arms, or never even got to hold their hand. You become a mother or father. I only also hope that everyone who becomes a parent gets the chance to be either a Mom or a Dad, as well, but that isn’t always in the cards, unfortunately.

If Poppy was still with us, she’d be two and a half. She’d be running around, probably getting just as excited about Halloween as Nugget currently is. She might not have the same desire to get scared of things as Nugget does, but I’ve got a feeling she’d be just about as adventurous. She’d be testing my limits with each passing day, all while teaching me new ways to experience the world. After all, Nugget is doing just that, and Poppy would have had a couple of extra months on her.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade Nugget for the world. I am so very proud, and amazed, and filled with love, all because of the things that little girl shows me every day. But I will also always hold Poppy in my heart, because that’s the only place that she fits for me.

So yes, I have experienced the loss of a child. Does my loss compare to the losses I’ve seen others go through? No. But it doesn’t have to. Nobody should get into the game of saying “I lost more than you”, or “My pain is greater than yours”. Because they aren’t comparable. They are different. And they should be, because our experiences, especially along the lines of loss, are personal, and not truly for public consumption.

What we should be doing is offer support to those who have suffered, or are currently suffering. We should be picking people up, instead of watching them crumble. And, while we may not truly comprehend what someone is going through, we should at least have the empathy to let them know that we’ve had a similar experience. After all, we are expected to share in our highs, so why can’t we also share in our lows.

To those that have lost, I offer you my love, and my support. No matter what, you are always parents in my eyes. Thank you.

The Nugget Chronicles: Ask a Question, Give an Answer

There’s a relatively new activity that has been taking up large portions of Nugget’s brainspace as of late. See, somewhere in the last week or so, she started asking questions. I’ve got friends with children older than Nugget, and I was once a child of her age, so I knew that this stage was coming. Honestly, I was actually kind of looking forward to the onslaught of “Why?”, if for no reason other than the ability to work on my improv skills (yes, we’re going to try to tell her the truth about things when she asks, but sometimes it’s just going to be too hard to not want to make a joke and see how long I can run with it). I figured that was the point we were staring to enter when I presented her with a spoonful of peanut butter, a typical after-breakfast treat, and she asked why it wasn’t a sting ray.

That question wasn’t completely random, by the way. She apparently thought that the peanut butter looked somewhat like a sting ray, so I told her that it was peanut butter, and not actually parts of a sting ray.

She immediately asked, “But why?”, and I knew that the time had come. I started brushing up on information, or at least believable, funny lies. After all, I want to be prepared for what Nugget might throw at me, and I have a reputation in this house as knowing things that my daughter doesn’t. I wouldn’t want to ruin that.

So, imagine my surprise when Nugget started going around and asking questions that began with “why”, but then moved on to being things only she could answer. For example, she’ll ask why she’s laughing so much. Or she’ll ask why she’s petting the dog. Or she’ll ask us if she’s sleepy.

Apparently, Nugget has decided that answering our questions of her isn’t as interesting as it could be, so she’s asking the questions now. Of her. She almost never asks us about us.

She also won’t answer until we repeat the question back to her. When she feels like answering at all. The laughing question is a prime candidate for not getting an answer. This question gets posed by Nugget when she’s generally being fairly quiet, idly playing with her toys or reading a book. She’ll then get a sly smile on her face, look directly at me or Mama, and ask us why she’s laughing. We’ll repeat the question back to her, she’ll smile wider, and only THEN will she start rolling with laughter.

Clearly, she’s discovered the basic elements of comedy, and is still trying to figure out a punchline that makes as much sense to her audience as it does to the teller.

So yes. I now have either a tiny comedian walking around my house, a little actor preparing for their first big audition, a small scientist that is working their hypotheses out loud for all the world to hear, or something of the sort. Sure, you could go ahead and say that I’ve got a toddler who’s figured out enough of how language works to know that questions need answers, while still not having a grasp on how to make the questioning accessible to those of us around her, but that’s just crazy.

Although probably not as crazy as a parent actively looking forward to their child following them around all day asking “Why?”.

The Nugget Chronicles: All Dressed Up

Earlier today (well, technically yesterday, if the clock isn’t lying to me), Nugget and I did something new, in a familiar place. We went to one of our local zoos, and she took part in a toddler class to help kids get to know more about the animals. We’ve been getting her into more activities overall, partially because we want her to get some more socialization time to counter all of the time she spends at home with me, and partially because we know that she’s a total sponge right now, and we want her to soak up as much information as possible. These reasons are why I took her to a family reading session at the library (which didn’t work out at all), and why we started her with some music classes (which she loves, and has definitely made friends, at least with one little boy). Given her love of the zoo, it was just the next logical step.

Now, during the class, everything was pretty awesome. Nugget got to see an owl (which delighted her to no end), and she got to pet a snake (which she wouldn’t stop talking about). She played games, and danced to music. She spent time with other kids of about her age, and she got to wander around the inside of the zoo for a bit afterwards. All in all, as far as Nugget was concerned, it was a good day.

I stress that it was a good day for Nugget. It was actually a pretty good day for me. With one simple exception.

I was outright complimented for dressing my daughter well. Because, you see, I’m a dad, and apparently that’s just super hard for dad’s to do.

To be clear, this comment was not directed in any way at Nugget. She wasn’t praised for being cute. Throughout the class, she was given compliments for how well she played, how much fun she was having, for her attention and gentleness towards the animals, and for being a good listener. You know, the things that she actually has control over, and the things that any child, boy or girl, should get positive attention for long before they get complimented for being cute. So there wasn’t any sort of stereotypical “good job relying on your looks, kid” type of mentality going on. No, the comment was directed specifically at me, and it was also clearly meant as a joke; a shot across the bow towards other fathers who may not have a fashion designer wife and a simple recognition of complimentary colors and style.

When the comment came across, I actually shrugged it off, and might have even laughed a bit. After all, again, it wasn’t about Nugget being pretty and not needing to work hard to learn. It was about the fact that it was pretty clear I put some thought into her clothes, as opposed to grabbing random items in the dark, possibly while also heavily intoxicated or sleepwalking. I even made some jokes about it on my social media accounts, which lead to a bit of conversation, but nothing too dire.

But I’ll admit that it’s been lurking in the back of my mind. And it’s been there for a couple of reasons.

First off, who cares how a child is dressed, and who picked out those clothes? I mean, Nugget could decide she was going to wear a Batman t-shirt with a Deadpool tutu, and I wouldn’t say a thing (well, okay, I AM a pretty big nerd, so I might talk to her about crossing major comic company lines). It just so happens that today, because she was attending a “feathered friends” class, I put her into a dress with flamingos on it (I’ve talked before about how we tried not to gender her clothes, and how she’s made it clear that she wanted to dress in “girl” things). If a child is happy and engaged, it shouldn’t matter at all what they’re wearing. Especially not when they’re toddlers, and you can still catch them before they start getting obsessed with “looking right”.

The second reason this stuck with me is that it buys into the typical stereotype that dads, for the most part, are absolute morons. I used to joke with a friend who’s also a father that we got immediate credit for actually seeming like we enjoyed our child’s company, but it isn’t that far from the truth. And yes, dads also get extra grief at times for being around, because we’re not the norm. There has to be a reason why we’re staying home with our kids, and it clearly can’t be just that we want to stay home with our kids (spoiler alert: for a fair number of us, that’s EXACTLY why we stay home, and it’s freaking awesome). But there is a heavy stereotype that dads don’t know what the heck they’re doing, unless you’re talking about technology. Give us electronics, and we’ll totally understand how to do everything (while those poor, hapless wives can’t manage to turn on the television, and believe that their smartphones are also the TV remotes, because LOL, right?), but the minute that we’re dealing with things like cooking, or cleaning, or wanting to be actively involved with our children? Oh boy… we’re just around for fun, and the kids will outsmart us. This mentality shows up in commercials, television shows, and movies. A dad is awesome to be around, as long as you don’t need him to be a parent. Really, we’re just overgrown children who are friends to our kids, or extreme disciplinarians. But active parts of their lives, who are competent in how we’re raising them and taking care of the house and maybe even making dinner? That’s just too much.

I’m not saying that dads get it worse than others. I’m not even saying that dads get it anywhere near to the same level as other groups. What I’m saying is that we need to put a lot of these stereotypes to bed. It’s beyond time that we stopped using these easy crutches in day-to-day life, or in the creative arts. Women can literally do just about anything they choose. So can men. And neither gender gets the ownership of all of the intelligence related to certain tasks.

Besides, if you’re trying to embody stereotypes instead of break them, you’re closing yourself off to some truly fantastic opportunities.

The Nugget Chronicles: Teaching Empathy

Recently, there have been some truly terrible events happening in the United States. To be fair, there have been some truly terrible events happening globally, but I’m specifically thinking about these particular events that are pitting people against each other. Events that, because they are happening in my national backyard, so to speak, are at the forefront of my mind. Events that, honestly, could and should have been avoided, but weren’t, and now the repercussions are being felt strongly.

To be clear, this post is in no way shape or form meant to assign blame to one side or another. It isn’t to act like I know what’s right, and it certainly isn’t meant to diminish anyone’s feelings about these things. And, honestly, it isn’t about any one singular event in particular, because there’s just been too much as of late. Some are still ongoing, and some have died down, leaving the participants to pick up the pieces.

No, what this post is about is wondering what I can do to help raise Nugget in a way that keeps her from perpetuating some of these terrible mentalities.

A big reason why I’m worried that Nugget will be somewhat isolated from these types of events is that we are raising her from a position of privilege. Hell, I’m pretty much walking proof of that privilege. After all, I’ve been given the opportunity to not work a standard job because I have chosen to take a more active role in the day-to-day raising of my daughter. This choice was not forced upon me by my gender, by my ancestry, or by my education level. In fact, those elements, combined with the fact that I got pretty darned lucky in the marriage department, actively facilitated my choice. Choosing to be a stay-at-home parent did not impact our ability to have or keep our house. It didn’t result in us forcing to scrimp and save in order to put something approximating “enough” food on the table. It hasn’t prevented us from doing things for fun, and it certainly hasn’t put us into a position where we have to choose which bill gets paid this month. This is a remarkable privilege that we’ve found ourselves in.

To be clear, I’m not saying for a minute that we didn’t work hard to get the things that we have, or the opportunities. I do, however, acknowledge that we didn’t have anywhere near the number of barriers that others have to face, and that allowed doors to at least be set ajar for us, requiring only the right nudge to swing the rest of the way open. After all, privilege isn’t having everything handed to you… it’s simply having fewer obstacles standing in your way.

When I think about this, and when I think about the issues that are plaguing the country right now, I worry. I worry that the world is getting more dangerous, even though I know statistically it is not. I worry that I am only helping to perpetuate the injustices that I see, even though I’m trying to at least draw the right people’s attention to them. I worry that I too often take a stance of silence, out of fear of retribution or, worse, fear of losing people who once were friends. Ultimately, I worry that I will not be able to raise Nugget to be better. To be more compassionate. To be more understanding.

It’s hard to understand what someone else is going through when you have never walked in their shoes. That’s a truth about human nature. We just don’t have a frame of reference for someone else’s misery. Sure, we can offer sympathy, and we can lend a shoulder, but it doesn’t mean that we “get” it. Part of the problem with what’s happening now, as I see it, is that not enough people are willing to even try. Empathy has become a weakness, as opposed to a value.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. And it certainly isn’t what I want Nugget to grow up with.

I want my daughter to have empathy for others. Instead of mocking or belittling people who are hurting, I want her to lift them up. I want her to be part of a global community that knows, not just believes, that everyone should have the same opportunities before them, and that your personal investment is what gets you what you want. I want her to tear down establishments that aren’t working any more; not physically, but through her words, her mind, and her compassion. However, if there’s a need for physical action, I want her to follow through with conviction, and concern for the downtrodden.

I want my daughter to grow with empathy.

I never want to hear my daughter say that she’s “an ally, but…”. I don’t want her to offer unsolicited advice when none is being sought. I don’t want her to ever have a moment of feeling that she is better than someone else, simply by the circumstances of her birth. I don’t want her to ever feel that she is less, because of those same circumstances. And, most assuredly, I don’t want her to ever ignore that, because of those circumstances, she does carry a level of privilege in this world.

I want my daughter to grow with empathy.

I’m going to try very hard to make sure that this happens. I don’t know if I have the first clue how to do this, but I’m going to try. My instincts tell me that, in order to achieve this goal, I need to teach her two things. I need to teach her first to listen, and secondly to ask how she can help. Not to immediately say, “Well, this is how I would have done it”, or, worse, to make justifications to why these actions continue. To listen, and ask how to help.

I put listening first, because I truly believe that we can learn so much more about the world around us, and the people in it, if we take the time to actually listen. It’s something I will fully admit to struggling with myself, and it’s a skill that isn’t taught with anywhere near the level of seriousness that it should be. As people, we’re often waiting for our turn to talk, instead of waiting for the other person in the conversation to finish their point. It leads to misunderstandings, shattered feelings, anger, and beyond. So many problems can be countered by simply taking a step back, and actually listening to the other perspective. This doesn’t mean that listening creates understanding or agreement. I’m not looking through any rose-colored glasses here. But I do believe that listening opens the door for empathy, because getting a glimpse into the “why” someone is doing a thing can start to draw a connecting line to our own lives.

As for asking how to help, once active listening has begun, it’s easy to start offering up answers. That’s a trap, and, again, an easy one to fall into. Sometimes, no help is needed. Sometimes, and this can’t be stated strongly enough, no help is wanted. It doesn’t matter if your heart is in the right place. If someone doesn’t want help, no matter what you do to try to assist them may actually do more harm than good. Asking how to help again opens up possibilities, and allows the one who is suffering to reach out. And, again, by taking a step back, by not being the one to provide solutions without a prompt, I believe that helps create an empathic link.

Aside from these two key points, I also want to make sure that my daughter has a wealth of experiences. I want her to go to a school that isn’t gentrified. I want her to make friends with other children of all backgrounds. I want her to see the world for what it could be, but not to ignore the truth about what it is. And I hope that she will grow with a desire to make changes, even small ones, in her own life for all that she touches.

I want my daughter to live with empathy for others, but I don’t want her to be naive. I’m only hoping that I’m starting her on the right path, and that, when I make mistakes, which I know I will, that she will have the care and sensitivity to forgive me.

I want Nugget to live, laugh, love. I want her to experience joy, and, yes, to experience hardship. I want her to work for the things that are important to her, and I want her to play and revel in the times where she can simply be.

Above all else, I want my daughter to grow with empathy.

Gaming as a Father

So, really aside from the Tuesday and Thursday posts, this blog is going to probably be a little more sparse. Partially because, well, I only want to write when I actually have something to say, and, partially because, if you’ve been reading The Nugget Chronicles, you know that I’ve recently transitioned to being home all of the time with my daughter. This is an incredibly rewarding choice, but it means that computer time is definitely limited to whenever she’s taking a nap, and even that is kind of a crap shoot.

That being said, there are a couple of games that came out over the course of 2013 that really resonated. And, truth be told, both of these games came out when Nugget was still hanging out, doing her pre-being-born growing. However, I made a point of getting through both of these games relatively quickly (which is a rarity for me… as I’m currently still plodding my way through Final Fantasy XIII-2), because, well, I wasn’t sure if I’d get much of a chance to play them after Nugget was born. See, there’s just something about playing a fairly violent video game in the general vicinity of a small, impressionable person that is kind of off-putting (it’s one of the reasons why I also don’t play video games around my short friends). Little did I know when I started the games that they would resonate much more deeply than I had anticipated. Clearly, the stories had something to do with that, but it was really the way the characters were allowed to interact that hit home. Those two games areĀ Bioshock Infinite andĀ The Last of Us.

Now, to talk about why Bioshock Infinite resonated, it’s impossible to avoid spoilers. That being said, come on, people. The game’s almost a year old, and we’re encroaching on the next (last) piece of DLC. For those few people with an interest in the game but haven’t played it to completion, I’m going to ruin the surprise for you. See, you’re playing as Booker DeWitt, and you’re getting help from a woman named Elizabeth. Near the end of the game, you discover that Elizabeth, the most helpful escort in the history of video game escort missions, is actually Booker’s daughter. When that point was reached for gamers far and wide, you could practically hear the screeching of brakes being applied as millions of Booker/Elizabeth slash-fictions suddenly became a lot worse (and, for some writers, a few probably became better). For me, it struck home because, well, I was about to have a daughter. The whole fear of losing your child (or, in this case, “voluntarily” giving them up) filled me with dread even before I’d ever met Nugget, and seeing how Booker dealt with it hit home. Mind you, if I was ever in a similar situation, I’d like to think that I’d deal with it better. When the game reaches it’s conclusion, the father/daughter connection really hits home, as Booker is willing to sacrifice everything he is to try and save Elizabeth from any pain, both in the past and the future. Finishing Bioshock Infinite made me immediately go and hug my wife, and made we want to hug my daughter, even though I still had months to wait.

And, almost as soon as I had finished processing my thoughts and feelings regarding Bioshock Infinite, I picked up The Last of Us. Hey, look, it’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s a story of survival, against the odds. There’s scrounging and fighting and stuff to do to allow your character, Joel, the best chances to make it in this world. Oh, and there’s a connection to an amazingly strong female character, who, along the way, becomes a surrogate daughter for Joel.

Yup. Waiting for my daughter to be born, I basically engulfed myself in two different games about fathers making their way in the world to save their daughters.

Now, in The Last of Us, Ellie isn’t Joel’s actual daughter. In fact, before they start on their voyage together, they’d never met. However, when the virus breaks out, turning the planet into a walking mushroom colony, Joel loses his actual daughter while trying to escape. This clearly haunts him, as the next time we see Joel, he’s a shell of his former self. We don’t know all of the other things that affected him, but it’s very apparent that losing his daughter has made him take a much more cynical look at the world, and he just isn’t really prepared to let anyone get close. Even when he first meets Ellie, it’s clear that he’s only taking her along because it’s a job. Over time, Ellie grows on him (because, seriously, how can she not? The jokes alone are worth getting to know this kid), and, by the end of everything, we’re again seeing a man willing to sacrifice everything to protect his “daughter”. The parental protection instinct is strong, and it’s clear that the writers for both games understood that desire to ensure the safety of family that exists.

While these father/daughter exchanges are truly powerful, and they show the sacrifices willingly made by the male characters, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Elizabeth and Ellie were both such strong characters in their own rights, they whole thing would have come off as being hokey. In fact, it can be argued that it didn’t matter that either Elizabeth or Ellie were women. Neither character needs to rely on being a “girl” to help them out of situations, and the game developers clearly wanted to show that both women are perfectly capable, which is a nice breath of fresh air, especially when compared to characters like Ashley from Resident Evil 4. Elizabeth is kept locked away until Booker breaks her free, not because she can’t get herself out, but because there seems to be little point when she knows far more of the truth about the world she’s living in. Ellie is no less capable of surviving than a boy would be in her shoes, as the only thing that really sets her apart from Joel as far as skills go are things that are learned over time. The characters could have been written as being male, without any real changes made to the story, which is key. Too often the media makes women foils, or props, and doesn’t seem willing to accept that they are simply people. The man doesn’t have to always be the hero, and the woman doesn’t always have to be the damsel in distress. While the father/daughter connection is struck upon in both games, it isn’t a stretch to say that a father/son relationship would be just as fulfilling.

I haven’t revisited either game since Nugget was born, with the exception of a little time in Bioshock Infinite‘s DLC, but I know that I’ll go back some day. Truth be told, that day may not come until I feel that Nugget can actually glean something from the story. After all, while I know that she’s got a multitude of strong women in her life, I think it’s important for her to see strong women in the media, as well, and ones that are not simply there to portray the “feminine perspective”.

I only hope that more games like Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us come out, with strongly written characters and well-crafted storylines. It’s certainly better than when I was a kid, trying to get a plumber through pipes to go and save a princess who was always in another castle, and who could have walked five feet over to get the ax and free herself.