My son, now age 9, has become super-competitive in the
last few months. What was once fun and games for him has
seemingly turned into the end of the world. His skill level
develop by leaps and bounds, and I no longer need to let him win in many of the
games we play.
I also never imagined I'd care about winning. I haven't looked twice at a video game since Pac-Man was popular (I know this means that I'm way out of touch, but it's true). I considered video games a waste of time and they'd just fallen off my radar—that is, until my son and his father starting playing.
I've never cared much for bowling, and when my son got a Wii
for Christmas I thought it would be a great way for him to pass time while I
cooked dinner or read a book. But somehow I've gone from being completely dismissive to full-competition
mode after realizing that my son is a challenging opponent in many games.
Once when we bowled on
Wii, he scored 191 points to my 87 points. I tried focusing, perfecting my aim
and timing, but none of it mattered. I still couldn't compete with him. At one
point I did throw a strike and my son blurted out, "You're cheating!" I was
stunned by his aggression, but even more taken aback by my fiery response, "No,
I'm not!" I think we went back and forth for several seconds before I
remembered I'm an adult engaging with a 9-year-old.
Now, as a parent without any experience to draw from, I'm not sure if it's healthy to compete with my child.
I was raised by my grandmother. When I was young, she was
too old for games, and my much younger parents weren't the game-playing kind. My
father once broke his leg attempting to show me how to hurdle over the gate
around our yard. He wasn't competing with me, but he surely was trying to prove
a point and teach me a thing or two about track and field, which I loved
growing up. He was very embarrassed as he was being placed in the ambulance. He
couldn't look me in my eyes that day. We never spoke of it again.
Now, as a parent without any experience to draw from, I'm
not sure if it's healthy to compete with my child, or if I should just leave the competition to him and his peers. I have to admit that my son beating me so badly in
bowling has made me want to do better. (I mean, I'd like to at least lose with my dignity intact.) It's sad. I'm competitive. I don't lose well and this is a huge ego crusher for me.
But this would
require me to spend energy on something I've always been happy to find just
a little beneath me (even before I became a parent). I've always preferred to
engage with the outdoors than be inside with my head glued to a screen. But my
ex loves video games, and now my son has the best of both worlds. He plays
outdoors sports and can whip some butt (particularly mine) in many video games
So I either change my opinion about video games or admit they have
some value. Or I
continue to stand against them. But I'll find myself standing in a pool of lonely defeat
while everyone in my family is having fun gathered around the television
competing, laughing and cheering without me.
I have always been an athlete, but I never imagined I'd be
asking myself if I should compete with my son. It had never crossed my mind
that he'd be better than I am at any kind of game.
But even with my competitive side, the best part really is that my son is excelling in many areas of his life, especially when people usually expect otherwise. I want this for him. I want him to beat me in nearly everything
because he is genuinely good at it and has pushed for it, because we've competed fairly
and I deserve it. And after every game, I want to
walk away angry that I've lost yet happy that I've been authentically beaten by
my son, who has surprised and surpassed me one more time.