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The Games Children Play - Soon Makes Games Adults Play
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The Games Children Play  -  Soon Makes Games Adults Play

My son came home from school and told me about a schoolmate named Grant. These are first graders, and they seem to me to be delightful creatures capable of serious ugliness. Say what you want about kids (kids are so sweet and charming, kids do the most delightful things, etc) because they do; but they are also extremely mean, rude, and terrible people.

Let me slow down here and say, in my defense, I’m the full-time dad. I play with the kids, I feed the hungry ones, and I stay out of the way when there’s trouble. Most moms hate me for this, and they yell at me. But kids are great problem solvers, so I stand back in awe, and forget to do something. Once, a big kid was beating on my son, and I watched to see how he would handle it. We made eye contact so I knew he was okay, but he handled it. He handled it better than any adult. He patiently defended himself, and when that failed to generate results, he pushed the kid to the ground and said, “You weren’t listening. I had enough. Now don’t touch me.” Problem solved.

Well, sort of. The kid’s mom ran out of the house screaming at my son, then me, and we took our abuse, until her son told her what happened. Peace prevailed. But parents can mess things up. So I stay out of it unless things get too physical, then I ask questions to distract them. I would not want to put my programming in them.

But back to my tale...this child, Grant, is constantly pushing my kid around when he’s playing at school. He interrupts his games, calls him names, and acts like an idiot. So my son finally rats this kid out to me after 4 months of harassment. So we talk about it - well, I ask questions.

What we discovered is that there are jerks in the world. They grow up to be big jerks. I shared this story with another dad who replied, “Do the world a favor. Tell your kid to beat him up. I don’t want him working near my kid.” I said, “What, he’s a future president.”

But my son was not bothered. Just like the kids in our neighborhood that are ill-behaved, my son still likes having them around. So I asked him in later conversations about Grant. And it turns out my son has no interest in “fixing” Grant. He gets mad at Grant, he wants to yell at him, but Grant is Grant, Dad. That’s the way it is.

I query him, “How do you play your games with the other kids if he interrupts?”

“He’s just a part of the game,” he says.

Reminds me of a cliche: All God’s creatures. Mosquitoes, cockroaches, termites - they all belong here. I get so fed up with poor drivers, terrible co-workers, and bad neighbors, and yet from one child’s perspective, that is in order. That is the whole picture.

I said, “Don’t you all just want to get along?”

Him: “We do. It’s just...just different.”

I could wax philosophical and say bad drivers make us more alert, terrible employees make the good one’s more visible, and bad neighbors are great for late night conversation, but I won’t. That would be me being philosophical and imitating another. But what I can do is watch my behavior relative to these people, and sidestep them, and move on without the gory dramatics that we adults invent. Because they will always be close at hand - the idiots - and that is in order. And by my shrugging my shoulders, I may be here one more day to witness this grand scheme with all of its characters.

As for the children, they will grow up and develop. And maybe Grant teaches them a thing or two about limitations, the value of walking away, the benefits of leveraging authority, I don't know. But there will be Grants in the adult world, and first grade is a good time to learn to integrate them into one's life.

Street Talk

i like your article Dale

  about 1 decade ago

Good one Dale, it takes a lot to stand back and allow a child to develop his own defence mechanism, but your son sounds very resilient.

  about 1 decade ago
Tracy Cox  

Great article. I think your son is very lucky to have such a wise father. As he grows older he will be more independent and ready to handle things himself. After all, our job as parents is to teach them and prepare them for life.

  about 1 decade ago

Great article Dale. A lot of truth in it. Thanks

  about 1 decade ago
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