Helping my children feel successful. It is one of the things I struggle with as a parent. Here is Seth navigating a game on Dr. Gooch's ipad. I could hear him every few minutes, mutter, "Yes!" to himself. Little successes that lure him onward in the computerized challenge under his fingertips.
I cringe at the easiness of the way of video games. I know there are many who turn their nose up at my distaste. Overreaction? Stingy? Stuck up? Who cares. I don't like them. I grew up with them towering over me in our garage. My Dad was in the Arcade Business. I have certainly played (and beat) my fair share.
And I realized, yesterday, partly why I don't like video games.
Success. Or rather, a false sense of it. Without really doing anything at all (in the actual world) without any interaction, production, relationships, or work, someone can feel successful. It is similar to caffeine. It takes work, discipline, and motivation to feel energetic. Early to rise, early to bed. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Yet caffeine gives it to you for free (or the price of a bottle of soda). Interesting that they are both addictive substances. Video games and caffeine.
Seth loves to build. He builds and builds and builds. He gets extremely frustrated and has to leave his building for a spell. Maybe a scooter ride outside or some harmless pestering of his sisters. But he always goes back to it.
Because he has found great success. He has put in the HOURS. He has tried and failed, but tried again and the tower stands. The railway runs. The marble travels and does exactly what he had planned in his mind. He has something to show for it. It makes him thirsty. It moves and refreshes his mind.
His sisters sometimes come in while he is building and he can show off his creations. They genuinely "ooh" and "aah". Sometimes though, they get in the way and contention arises and we have to stop to learn how to "ask nicely" and "respect others".
Nearly always, I am in the kitchen while he builds. It is after school. It is dinnertime. Nearly always he runs through the hall to beg me to "come see!" And I do. And I tell him how wonderful it is (because it is) and he smiles and coos in his awkward way.
He feels success.
And so do I. This is why I hate video games. Because they are a threat to THIS.
And THIS is priceless.