He's awkward, hair pieced against his forehead looking nothing like peace. His eyes shift between us and he sits straight against the chair - his spine his own ladder-back. "Are you going to blog this conversation?"
There's an accusation hanging there somewhere in the background. Some insecurity. Is he nothing but fodder for my pen?
"That wasn't my intention," I tell him. And it really wasn't. We merely wanted to speak to him about time management - that age-old discussion: there is more to life than video games [for goodness sake]! But then he dropped that line and it was like sealing his own fate.
"Don't you worry that you're wasting your life?" I ask. Because I think maybe he is. Without monitoring he would sit at the computer sunup to sundown. 'It's creative,' he'll argue. And it is. The virtual worlds he's creating are incredible. But so is sunlight. And digging holes. And getting dirty.
"What about when you go back to school and they ask what you did all summer and you say, 'Um...I played Minecraft'?" Scott asks.
"Lame," I say.
"Do you think that we're unreasonable? Do you think there shouldn't be any limitations?"
"Would it be better if we let you do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted to or to give you expectations and rules?"
"The second one?" he offers tentatively - with no conviction.
"The rule stands, Zander, one hour!"
"But what am I supposed to do?"
"Figure it out."
I harbor an unapologetic (possibly unfair) dislike for computer games, creative or not - they're brain melters. Was it so hard to be a kid when I was his age? How often did my parents have to push me to play? Sure, I got bored - but then I'd go climb a tree.
"We want the best for you," I tell him.
"I know. Can I use the hammer?"
"YES!" Oh yes, yes, yes!!! "There's a pail of old nails in the barn and you can use any of the wood on the left side. Go. Build!"
Later I follow the sound of hammering into the basement of the barn. He's hidden around the back where sunlight and little brothers don't get in. "What are you building?" I ask.
"A house. Well, a box. But it's a house." And it's got walls that are a foot high. He has built a table for it and found a chair to place in the middle and he sits on it. A white flower pot hangs from a pole.
"That's so fun!" I tell him.
"Yeah. I want to build the walls right up. I gotta keep Liam out. Is it okay if I stay out longer to work on it?"
"Sure!" I say and I'm celebrating the dirt all over his shirt and the dust in his hair. "You know what's better than Minecraft?" I ask him. "Real life!"