The flashbacks on Lost are far more detailed and precise than I believe anyone's memories actually are. It's a necessary device, and a great one, for filling in the blanks and back stories for the best ensemble of stranded characters since Beast Wars. Elaborating upon that last unique opinion may well merit a post of its own some day.

Earlier today when accused of being overly competitive, I mentioned to some friends that I used to lose a lot to my parents when we played board games. This led to a long e-mail debate which frustratingly set me further behind at work than I already am, yet one I was compelled to continue. One one side of the argument, Curt maintained that you should play to win, or not play at all. Jerry and Rey, who are each parents, held a different position. They would play a game with their respective sons not to win, but to have fun and spend time with their child. They even admitted they'd LET their child win to “let them have a taste of victory.” Rey went so far as to tell me that after playing Spider-man with his son, they DON'T EVEN SAVE THEIR PROGRESS. All of this blew my mind.

I get obsessive with games. I keep playing until I win. I don't buy a new video game until I've gotten all the way through. An only child, I've never had siblings, so I'm not sure WHO I'm competing with or trying to impress. Rey assures me that having siblings DOESN'T make one competitive, but I'm not certain. I think I would have been even MORE competitive with brothers or sisters. I'll never really know. He did say that it's hard to understand BEING a parent until you ARE one. I think our experiences as children are vital to our experiences as a parent. Who else do we have as an example? The things our parents did right, we'll repeat with our kids. The things we disagreed with, we'll probably do differently, but if they weren't there to DO those things, we'd be left with only instinct. Some wisdom comes from personal experience, but previous generations yield treasure troves of knowledge to those mature enough to listen. It's ironic, because I can remember a time when I didn't listen and my folks assured me that someday I'd wish I had.

When I got home from work I shared an abridged version of the morning's discussion with my parents. After hearing from my peers that they let their kids win, I had to know if my parents had done the same. My argument against such a “victory” was that it was false, and to learn the truth later might shatter any sense of accomplishment a child had from finally besting his or her elders, a natural part of becoming an adult. So I asked them if they ever let me win. They thought about it and said no, but that I was very good and won a lot. This clashed with what I told my friends. I thought I used to always lose and throw fits about it. I was certain I'd done that with my friends as a kid, but the more I spoke with my parents tonight I realized my flashback was muddy. My dad started rattling off all the games I used to beat them at. Checkers. Connect Four. Chinese Checkers. Parcheesi. Hickory Dickory Dock. And countless others. I realized it was true; I rarely lost to my parents. If anything, after a hard day at school, whether it was getting yelled at by a coach or hit with a ball or something, I took out my “losses” on my parents, who were there for me. As bad as I was at everything else, I was good at these meaningless games, and winning against adults made me feel really....

Ah, crap. Now I have a seed of doubt. I did ask them if they were sure, and if in fact they didn't let me win and they both sincerely reassured me of how good I was, my mom saying again how she wished I'd try out for Jeopardy because I guessed so many answers when we all watch together. After what my friends said, I'm not sure if my parents weren't trying to boost my ego or were really bad at games, or even if they're STILL boosting my ego. I guess that's what parents are for.

I still don't agree with not finishing a video game, or playing a game with a clear goal and not aiming for or caring about that goal. There is something to be said for “meaningless” fun between a parent and child though. Some of the best times I've had both as a child and as an adult have been putting together a jigsaw puzzle with my parents. Even a simple game of catch, with no winners or losers, brought me joy. My dad has bad arthritis these days, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Years as a mechanic, of burns and breaks, have taken their toll on his hands. Even when he was in his early fifties he had begun to feel the effects, but when I was 8 or 9 I used to pester him when he got home from work to play. He'd rotate his stiff shoulder, and grimace in pain, but he could still throw like when he had his own team before he got married. He suffered to spend time with me.

During tonight's Lost, which also dealt with the painful sacrifices parents make and endure for their children, a commercial for Citicards came on. It featured a close-up of a cute toddler who bore a remarkable resemblance to the son of a good friend. The toddler came in and out of focus, and you could eventually see he was on a swing with his father in the background. The caption said something along the lines of, “There's a reason overtime pays more. You're getting paid for what you're missing. There's more to life than money.” It kind of made me sad that I never got married or had kids of my own, but it also made me appreciate all the things my parents did for me, things I may not even realize, and respect my friends who did become parents themselves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said that having siblings helps you deal with it (competitiveness), not lets you ignore it.

And we play with a clear goal...to laugh and have Spider-Man webswing.

1/20/2005 12:07 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

But....but Doc Ock is at large! And MJ is waiting for you! What about all those people being mugged or guys hanging from ledges calling for help? And those pizzas aren't going to deliver themselves--! ;-)

I just get something different than you out of video games I guess.

1/20/2005 10:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home