With his initial (greatly regretted) toothfairy transaction, BubTar bought a new to us XBOX game. I know video games and children are a hot topic, but this isn't what the post is about. Josh is a gamer; BubTar likes to play in tandem when he can, so we keep child-friendly games around. We are very picky about what he is allowed to play, though. This game is still just a bit too hard for him, if we are being honest, it is a little too hard for ME, because he has matched my sad video gaming prowess. If he needs help when playing, chances are greater that I will use up his extra lives while assisting, rather than make any sort of progress.
This has been a great source of emotional turmoil as of late, resulting in a total grounding from all gaming systems due to the emotional overload it is creating. I will give you an example:
B: (screaming) I can't DO IT! IT'S TOO HARD!
M: Why don't you turn it off and come back and try again later when you don't feel so upset?
B: No! I don't want to turn it off. I want to do it! It isn't about winning, its about PRACTICING.
M: Well, then you need to get yourself under control, because you can't play if you continue to scream and cry. It isn't worth getting so upset.
B: I'm so upset because I'm LOSING!
M: I know losing upsets you. If you need help, you can turn it off until Dad gets home and he'll help you.
B: I want to do it now. (crying now)
M: If you want to keep playing, you need to control yourself. I can try and help you, but you are getting too upset and it is supposed to be fun. If you aren't having fun, you need to save it and turn it off.
B: (screaming and crying) I can't control myself! I'm SAAAAAAAAD!
M: Either you turn it off, or I do. It is time to turn it off if you feel this sad.
B: (sobbing) I'm not sad anymore.
M: You're still crying, buddy.
B: I just can't stop it.
M: Well, then we're turning it off and you can try again with Dad later.
B: (sprawls himself on the floor, crying hysterically)
M: You know you aren't supposed to act like that. You need to calm down and go do something else.
B: (crying on the floor)
M: If you can't calm down, this is the end of playing for the whole day. It isn't good for you to get this upset over it.
B: (crying louder)
M: This is your last warning, Bub.
M: Okay, no more today. You need to go up to your room and working on calming down.
Yesterday, this happened again, although he turned it off himself and went to cry quietly in his room. He came out of his room and said:
B: You know, I am sad and crying.
M: I know, but you still can't play. It isn't good for you to get so upset while playing. That is when it stops being fun. Does Daddy cry when he has a hard time with a game?
B: YOU KNOW I AM NOT DADDY. WE ARE NOT THE SAME! (total breakdown)
I almost died. All I could manage at that point was an "Oh baby, come here." and I let him cry in my lap. It was just such a grown up thing to say. The way he said it, I don't know. I saw him standing there at sixteen, having the same discussion with me. "I am not Daddy." Ack. I saw myself, crying in bed, telling my dad, "But I'm not like them, we're not the same." It made tears well up in my eyes. Once he was done crying, I explained that I wasn't trying to say he was like Josh or that he needed to be like Josh, I was just trying to show him that when you are ready to play video games on your own, you are also able to control your emotions. We know to walk away when we start getting too frustrated. He needs to start thinking about how he feels and walk away when he starts to feel like it is too much. He can always come back or get help later. If he can't stop playing when he feels too frustrated, then I'll have to step in and remind him...but we want him to learn to read his feelings and know when the frustration level is too much. This isn't only applicable to a video game, but extends to all areas. He has that perfectionist streak and it causes these type of scenes over and over, the only difference is the issue he is struggling with.
He felt better, I felt better. Josh got home and helped him with his trouble spot and life went on. But I was left with this sudden shell-shocked awareness that he has an entire internal monologue that I don't know about, all sorts of important to him ideas and feelings that I am only privy to when he decides to share and that thought is kind of mind-blowing for me.
B: What is lockdown?
B: LOCK DOWN. What is it?
B: We practiced it at school today and it is call LOCKDOWN.
M: You practiced lockdown?
M: You tell me what it is.
B: Well, we have to close the door and the windows and go sit on the carpet and be SO quiet. What is it? Why do we have to practice?
M: (thinking, how do I explain lockdown without bringing up terrorists and students with handguns?) Lockdown is when there is a school emergency and the teacher needs you to be SO quiet and do your very best listening.
B: What do I do if there is lockdown and I am in the bathroom?
B: I know! I stay IN THE BATHROOM QUIETLY. But if it is a FIRE DRILL, then I go outside with a Big Kid.
M: Yeah, that sounds right.
B: And what if we are in the hallway? Where do we go?
M: Do you know?
B: Inside the classroom we are next to.
M: It is very good that you know all this.
M: (having a panic attack)
Holy crap. My five year old is learning lockdown procedures. He goes to a small, private school in our area. It is easy to forget that I really am sending him off into the world every day when it just feels like an extension of home. But I am sending him off into the world...a world of lockdown drills, of having to know how to handle himself in very real emergencies. A world that I don't know that his five year old self can handle yet.