It got so bad that sometimes, Chloe, The Dancer, would rouse herself enough to type a text message and hit send, hurtling her plaintive through the AT&T controlled air until it reached her father and me upstairs in our bedroom hideaway.
"Will you please tell Nathan to quiet down?"
Grumbling, one of us would slip back into parent mode, well past the time where we declare ourselves "off duty" and approach the door leading to the scene of the crimes. "Hey, Nate! Keep it down!"
The mayhem would lessen ever so slightly, enough so that we could not hear it from our room where we ourselves were watching Brits treat each other with stark brutality on DVDs borrowed from the library.
And his sister, the originator of the complaint, so exhausted from dance and academia, would simply fade into unconsciousness, taking with her those exasperated grievances and dire warnings that Nathan was on the express train to serial killerdom.
But it turns out that it isn't just murder and mayhem and foul language in the basement after all.
"Mom, what exactly is a quid?" Nathan asked me a couple of weeks ago.
We proceeded to have an eye-opening conversation regarding all he's learning about life in England. It seems that he's picked up the Anglophile gene. Please don't misunderstand. He hasn't a clue what a tea cozy is nor has he started calling dessert pudding, but he's much more aware of British slang and cultural icons than he was before. He knows what an O Level is. I had to google it.
"They really do talk like the people in Hope and Glory," he announced, taking a swig of some super-charged energy drink (as if he needs it.) He was referencing a movie that he and his sisters have been forced to watch so many times, they know half the dialogue. "They say bloody and bugger off and sod and you lot and they call each other blokes."
How is he learning this? From playing XBox live with kids from the UK. They've developed friendships over the last couple of months. Like many of us do here in the blogosphere, they look for each other to play together online.
I was delighted to learn that woven through the cursed exclamations (which elicit very stern NATHANS!!!! from his parents) and the very male banter involving grenades, guns, ammo and gear, the gamers discuss things like language, education, music and, believe it or not, health care. What do you know? The British gamers think it's odd that we here in the U.S. are struggling over health care reform.
It would be very easy to dismiss the online activities of our kids - it's all just games, killing, an erosion of our slick morality, blah, blah, parenting speak, blah....,but what they are doing, even as they play war games or as part of band is forming relationships with people from all over the world.
It's not morality that's being worn down, it's intolerance and nationalism and a sick need to feel superior to other people simply because this one was born in the U.S. and that one was born somewhere else. The world shrinks and, one hopes, understanding expands.
And, as someone who values my ability to have friendships with people from down the road (at which I still suck per comments on FB like "Your phone's dial out feature works too, you know) and across the globe (looks furtively away from my gmail because I know there are people in there that I owe an email), I can't think of a better way to use the vast technological glory of the internet.
Blood-soaked horrors, optional.
I ask you - what's not to love about something with a KillCam?