Tuesday, February 28

Tough love or just plain love?

I did an awful thing to my five-year old son, Ethan, this weekend. Well, I mean, it's not "smack your kid in public" awful, but still, I feel bad.

Well, sort of.

On the one hand, I cherish the time I get to spend with him and just have fun. And I want to do whatever I can to make sure that he's challenged and develops into a thoughtful, confident, polite, loving, and happy kid. But on the other hand, I also want him to learn and accept that fun (and life) isn't always about winning.

I'm squarely in the "you win some, you lose some" camp. And as I've said before, I think children, even at his age, shouldn't be shielded from a little competition. So long as you have fun, give it your best effort, and learn something along the way, it's all good.

So, Ethan and I were at the food court arcade at the local mall on Saturday, heads swimming in a McDonald's-induced glycogen high. The bass of the Dance Dance Revolution thumping in my belly (or maybe that was the quarter pounder). Our game is tied at 6-6. Ethan had just caught up from a three-point deficit without a lick of "hey, my shoe's untied" help from Daddy. The scoreboard warning lights are starting to flash letting us know that time's almost up.

And there I was...at a crossroad. Do I nudge it down and give him the last shot? Or do I capitalize on his obvious height disadvantage and bank one in past his reach? I take the shot. His paddle misses its mark, and I hear the sweet "PLINK" of glory. The scoreboard timer buzzes.

I beat my five-year-old son 7-6 at air hockey.

A brief glint of disappointment flashes in Ethan's eyes, and even though it's gone as we high-five and head over to the counter to cash in our skee-ball winnings, I couldn't help but think that maybe I had made a mistake. Did my competitive side get the best of me?

But now that a day or so has passed, I think maybe I'm being a little hard on myself. It was a good afternoon. Fifteen dollars well spent for some QT with the E-man with the added bonus of dishing out a little air hockey smackdown life lesson. Don't feel too bad for him, he made out like a bandit at the arcade ticket counter--two army paratroopers, two superballs, and two foamy smiley face rings. Plus, he's already talking smack about the next time we go.

At least, I think that's how "You're silly, Daddy!" translates.

No comments: