Friday, September 28, 2007


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.

B: (screams)

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?


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?

M: What?

B: LOCK DOWN. What is it?

M: Uhhhh.

B: We practiced it at school today and it is call LOCKDOWN.

M: You practiced lockdown?

B: Yes.

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?

M: Uhhh...

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.

B: Yes.

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.


S said...

BubTar and Jack are so similar sometimes that it's eery!

Jack has been having meltdowns over gaming, which he started only because his older brother was so into it.

And Kyla, my hubs and I discussed it last night and agreed that five is just too young for gaming. It's too late now, because with Ben in the picture, it'd be impossible (and mean) not to let Jack play too.

But he gets hysterical, and sobs, and basically just loses his sh*t. This in a boy who is ordinarily sweet and peacable and gentle. It's NOT GOOD. We've started referring to Nintendo as the evil that entered our house (via their grandfather, BTW). Something will have to be done. And soon.

S said...

PS I have your interview questions but don't have an e-mail address for you! Send your e-mail address to, OK?

moplans said...

I know it is so scary. All we can do is give them the tools they need and hope for the best.
I think you handled this very well.

Mad said...

Wow, Kyla. This post grabbed my heart and turned it inside out. The parallels you create between the gaming with its need for self-control and the lock down drill are a shot to the heart.

Janet said...

I think you did a really great job of talking him through his frustration. I find that, the older Drew gets, the less well he handles his frustration. Perhaps it's because he feels bigger and doesn't get why he can't do these things. I struggle with how to help him through it.

Also? The lockdown? I know. We also do tornado drills at our school, which made my six-year-old a trembling mess every time the wind blew last year. It's important to be prepared, but it the raw, exposing of fears can be so painful.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh my gosh I can't help it I laughed just a little in total sympathy with you and BubTar. How many times have Patience and I had that EXACT conversation. And it usually ends with her having a Quiet Think in her room. Then she comes out with some major insight and nonchalantly mentions something else from her day and suddenly it all makes sense.

I swear kids inadvertently seek a thing that will frustrate them to give them an outlet to release stress until they can talk about whatever it is that is really bothering them.

Wait, not exclusive to kids. LOL

Ahh BubTar, little guy. And you, too of course.

We have no electronic games, though.

Using My Words

Becca said...

You are amazing at knowing the right things to say!

And now I will have to go pick Charlie up and never let him out of my sight again. Gah! Lockdown. Scary!

Katie said...

When did our babies grow up? *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Delurking because I saw the exact same thing happen with my 6yr old nephew only instead of making him quit, his parents let him continue which resulted in him throwing a brand new $50 xbox 360 controller threw a window breaking both. Your example is wonderful. I wish I had a tenth of your patience!

Also, our school also practices lockdowns and my 10 yr old and I have had some rather frightening conversations but I will tell you that the only thing scarier is when they come home asking what a s*e*x offender is (yes we had that conversation because a father at the school was convicted in an internet sting)

Anonymous said...

How do you know just the right things to say in situations like this? I hope that when the time comes, I can rise to the occasion in the way that you do. This is good information for me, maybe I'll hold off on gaming until 6 or 7!

As a teacher, the lockdown drills were always so heavy in my mind...I wondered how I would react in a situation like that, how I would possibly protect all the children under my watch. It's so stressful, but it sounds like Bubtar has really listened well and knows exactly what to do.

Chrissy said...

Lockdown! What a scary thought. Wouldn't it be nice to keep them in a place where they are sheltered from all the world's evils.

Hey, good job keeping your cool during in the midst of a meltdown. It's so tempting to just melt down right along with them.

Bea said...

It's astonishingly complex, isn't it, that thing we grown-ups do to regulate our own emotions, judging when we're close to our breaking point. It's hard to be five.

dawn224 said...

I was in high school of 2300 kids and we did lockdown drills -

What we always stressed was that if someone was hurt and medical personnel needed to get through, then a lockdown was the easiest and safest way to ensure the paramedics (or whatever) would be able to get to the hurt person.

Which wasn't untrue - it was the more practical reason for the lockdown drills - but they were also good practice in case there was something worse.

kittenpie said...

Lockdown. That is one scary thought. Brrr. Fire drills are bad enough for Pumpkinpie.

Run ANC said...

Lockdown is a frightening thought. I don't think I'm ready to be a parent.

Amy said...

Wow, how frightening. I hadn't even thought about that even though I probably should since my kiddos are in "school." So much has changed since I was in school. So sad.

Kristin said...

My mom's elementary school was in an actual lockdown the other day...eek! They were on the news. Scary stuff, this world.

Poor perfectionist Bub. He is so skilled to be able to play the games at all, if you ask me. Those controllers are too complicated despite my having opposable thumbs.

Makes me glad J's not a gamer.

Aliki2006 said...

Yes, I believe, too that games and five year-olds don't mix. Or, should I say, games and MY five year old. We don't have any video games, but he has almost destroyed our keyboard out of frustration.

Lockdown? Yikes...

ewe are here said...

Oh the meltdowns when things aren't going well... they can be so terribly hard on both the wee ones and us.

The lockdown... so incredibly sad it's come to this in the schools.

crazymumma said...

Oh you handled his anger oh so well. The things they say that get right deep inside us and wake us up. And make us remember what it felt like.

As to lockdown. Yup, they do it in the girls school as well. What a farcking world huh?

Ben and Bennie said...

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?


I nearly blew snot on the screen!

And LOCKDOWN practice??? What??? I'd be livid!

flutter said...

This crushed me. I can't get past the lockdown and how I know it's necessary but how freakin sad it is that we have to be so afraid.

I want to sprawl out on the floor and cry, too.

PJ said...

How quickly they grow up...and how different the world is from when you and I grew up (eons before you!) I grew up with worrying about atomic bombs and how to live in a bomb shelter!! Somehow we all survive...and even prosper. You did well! Reminds me of a conversation I just had with a seven year old about marriage! Maybe I'll blog that.


P.S. The ONLY game I could ever play adequately was PAC-MAN and FROGGER a little bit!

Mimi said...

Ack! Kyla, this was so funny and so sad at the same time. Being a kid is frustrating, but being a mom has hidden pitfalls too, huh. You guys--you and Bubtar--sound like such a great pair. I hope Munchkin and I talk to each other like that when ... um, when she can talk.

You have lockdown but no recycling? Dude, you totally need to move to Canada. Here, our teenagers simply set fire to one another with AXE body spray, the cans of which they can subsequently recycle.

Junie's Blog said...

Wow! Sometimes I just have to shake my head at how similar Bubtar and Matthew are. I've had to deal with more than one crying fit when Matt could handle a video game(you saw the one post but there have been many instances). His meltdowns have definitely decreased though thankfully. Or maybe he is learning to control himself better because he knows I'll just remove him from gthe situation totally??? I don't know.

And that conversation about the lockdown?! It's like you replayed a conversation Matthew and I have had! Most recently he's been on the fire drill kick and about having a family plan. He's asked me about how he would get out of his room in case of a fire and he couldn't use the door. It's great but scary!

NotSoSage said...

Lockdown? Seriously? Oh, I am SO not ready to send my kid to school...

natalie said...

Oh, Kyla...I'm sorry for BubTar about gaming, but the lockdown questions REALLY got to me. We practice that procedure at my school, too! I NEVER thought about what questions it raises for my students!!! I just teach the procedure, talk about the importance of following my directions immediately, and rewarding them for following through with their end of the bargain. I wonder what's going on in their little minds??? I'm going to have a class meeting the very next time we practice our procedure to get all that out in the open. I do teach 2nd grade, so they're a little older than Bub, but they still must have questions. Wow...the things I learn from blogs. Thanks so much, friend.

carrie said...

I know, but it gets easier, it does and you will find that with each passing year in school they'll come home with all kinds of wild tales. Some truer than others, and thank goodness all the lockdowns are "drills" and not the real thing. I think you handled it perfectly.

And the video games . . . I feel your pain. My boys are really competitive with certain friends about them and if it gets too intense, I give them all a break!

And Wyatt sounds a lot like BubTar, he cried when I asked him to help his sister with an ice cream mess in the car while I was driving and when I asked him why he said "I just can't handle the pressure". Oh, buddy.

So yeah, I feel your pain on that one!

thirtysomething said...

Wow. THAT brings a person home. Lockdowns, in school at the age of five. What is our world coming to? (I know, that phrase is WAY overused)
No wonder he was on the verge with the game, poor guy. Stressful day.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

OK, are you writing your story or mine? This is exactly what happens here with my 6 year old and the evil (SM, we say that too) video games. My kid totally can't handle it and yet, we still let him play. I think we have lost our minds!!

And lockdown, well, it is necessary for them to know and my son did it last year in Kindergarten. They even said, "a bad guy could come into the school..". At least BubTar had all the right answers and I love that you let him tell you so that you are sure he knows what to do!

Beck said...

Oh, Kyla. My heart.
And wanna hear something really scary? The kids' school had a lockdown last year. A real one. Because a 14 year old brought a hunting knife to school and they didn't know where he was (answer: nowhere near the school). The school didn't see fit to let parents know afterwards, either, that the kids had spent the day locked in their rooms. Ick.

Casdok said...

Well handled!

Christine said...

i'm SO back, kyla!

And bubtar sounds so much like my girl--the emotions, the amazingly grown up things that come out of their mouths. . .

and my heart almost broke when i heard they were doing lockdown drills at school here, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, he's really growing up, isn't he?

I see these kinds of things in my kindergartener too. It's wonderful and hard to accept.