My oldest son loves video games. He loves them so much that he turned his sixth-grade geography project from “Japan” to “The History of Video Games in Japan.” We’ll sweep his room for his DS and iPod before he goes to bed, but often still find him in the morning with the handheld game clutched to his chest (yes, we need to be more creative about hiding places). A few days ago my husband was studying vocabulary words with him. “What’s an estate?” he asked. My son looked at him blankly. My husband gave an example to help him out, “Luigi’s Mansion” is an estate– a big house with lots of land.” Pretty soon they were relating every vocabulary word on the list to some aspect of Super Mario Bros. and within ten minutes my previously reluctant kid had the words memorized and could use them all in sentences.
I see the same tendencies in myself– I am a serial monogamist when it comes to obsessions. For a long time I read everything I could about pregnancy, childbirth, and child development. My husband is a doctor, and he joked that if someone had a question about obstetrics or pediatrics, they should ask me instead of him. When we stopped having babies, I flung myself into blogging (charting my page views obsessively) and learning about running, reading dozens of books about how to improve my times. I’d go to bed thinking about running, wake up thinking about running, and think about running when I was running.
These days, I still run, but I’ll do just about anything not to think about it when I’m doing it. My first preference is to run with friends, but if I can’t drag anyone else out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, I listen to a book. Over the last year, since we started researching the possibility of international adoption, many of those books have been about Chinese history or adoption, and my running friends know that I’ll spend our hour together talking about visas and the one-child policy and who’s going to watch my kids when we go to China in March. In fact, it reminds me of the way my boys come running to me to tattle on each other– the older one will complain, “He’s talking too much about Legos.” And ten minutes later the younger one will come rushing in to whine, “He won’t stop talking about Mario.” My husband wakes up enough to groan at me when the alarm goes off in the morning and I reach for my phone before I get out to see what’s happened overnight on the adoption boards.
So what about you? Do you find yourself to be a serial monogamist in your obsessions, or are your mind-consuming relationships more long term? Are you able to fall asleep and wake up in the morning without potential dates at the US Consulate (or any other obsession, for that matter) running full-tilt through your brain?