Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning the Curves

My son brought his Nintendo Wii console and some video games to St. Louis for his winter break.  I find these to be a fun way to connect with him while I can still rest in my bed if my body needs it.  We played Guitar Hero until my fingers were too swollen to continue and Mario Kart (a car racing game) until my thumbs were about to fall off.  And aside from which buttons to press and when, I gleaned a pretty cool insight from all the gaming while I was at it.

During one of the races, I kept shouting out, "Wait!  I can't see what's coming!"  My son thought this was hilarious, as he had been practicing for years.  "Seriously!  How am I supposed to know which buttons to push when I can't see what's ahead of me?!?"  Well, he just laughed harder and harder the louder and more frustrated I got.

I didn't think it was funny- I was getting downright panicky!  Seriously.  I put my glasses on, I even moved closer to the screen (I don't have one of those big flat screen deals, just a 19" box TV from all the way back in the middle of last decade).  I even tried asking my son what I was supposed to do. 

This is when I realized that I would just have to try, and fail (several times), before I could even begin to see the track.  And even then, who knows if an "inky squid" would come along to cloud my vision again at random points during the race.  For all I knew, the person ahead of me would hurl a "turtle shell" back towards me and throw me off track again.  Or maybe someone who was next to me would feel like ramming into the side of me, throwing me off into the great abyss of darkness or fiery lava, or leave me to drown in the cerulean seas.

But perhaps, if I kept at it long enough, I could learn how to navigate past my failures and start learning the curves.  Maybe I'd start to learn how to look at both the wide view of the track (that shows up in the upper right hand corner of the screen) and to see what's right in front of me at the same time.  But if not, I could still learn from all the past mistakes I had made and try to do my best.

Maybe I'd learn enough to know when to fly up the blue arrows and grab a "prize box" (I'm sure that's not what they call 'em, but I'm a mom, cut me some slack) that houses a reward like extra speed or invincibility.  Maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to finish first.  But maybe, I'd learn enough to sit back, enjoy the game, and go with the flow of the inevitable failures and successes that would come across my path.

By the end of my son's time here, I'd gone from twelfth place (guess how many places there were) to fourth or fifth with each race.  When I'd complain about that, even, my son would remind me how far I'd come and that it was still better than when I'd started.  Yeah, even more than this silly video game, my son continues to teach me life's greatest lessons.


  1. Lovely. My kids think it's hilarious to play Guitar Hero, or now, Kinect with me.

    Isn't it great to learn from our kids? I know that our job as a parent is never done; but, it's pretty cool to have our children step up and teach us once in a while.

    Thank you for sharing this. Perfect metaphor for life.

  2. Thanks, Brandee:) Parenting is a trip!

  3. Fantastic! I'm with Brandee, a perfect metaphor for life. Now I just need some of your patience and (a healthy dose of a language filter) to play those things with my kids. They kick my ass every time, and I am NOT a good loser. :)

  4. I absolutely LOVE Mario Kart, for the record. And I super love that you incorporated it into a life lesson :)

  5. Shannon, I think a language filter would come in pretty handy with me, too;)

    Jenn, it is quite addicting- I even played when my bro-in-law came to pick up my son for an afternoon!