The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The beginning of the end

This weekend Joseph was invited to two consecutive Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties. Although it is heartening that Joseph is so popular, four hours of animatronic pizza hell is a lot to ask of a kid (or a parent). Danny volunteered to go with Joseph so that I could spend some time alone with Sam. Although I spend quite a bit of time alone with Joseph, Sam and I have fewer interests in common.

Ever since Sam was born, I have been anticipating with dread the day that he would become a tweenager and start hating my guts. I have tried to imagine the various ways that this could come about: Sam as a pre-pubescent emo sk8erboi (dyed black hair and eyeliner) "Mom, you are so embarrassing!" Sam as a dweeby gamer (pear-shaped with pimples) "Mom, get out of my room!" Sam as a aggro musclehead jock (fireplug with a buzz cut) "Mom, can you not come to my game?"

So, this weekend, Sam and I went to the ISU Bowling and Billiards Center. It was kind of a disaster--at every game, he got competitive with me, and then got pissed off when he didn't win. I kept emphasizing that we were a team and I was not competing with him, and I tried to help him to do better. But everything that I tried to do to diffuse his competitiveness just made him madder.
First Sam got mad at me for doing better at "Medieval Madness" pinball than he did. (Seriously, I went first--how was I supposed to know how well to play!) Then he got mad because he kept crashing his car in some street racing game. He got flaming mad at me playing billiards. We finally got around to bowling, and he blew up because he scored a 45 (a great score for a kid!!!) and I scored a 91. (What made this all even more depressing was that in the next lane was a mother with a son about the same age as Sam. They had their own bowling shoes, and were having a splendid mother-son day, complimenting each others' techniques, etc.)

I mentioned my conflict with Sam to an older friend of mine, and she had some rather depressing insight. She told me that her father was always trying to teach her sports, and she was always competing with him and storming off because she wasn't as good as he was. No matter how helpful he tried to be, it just pissed her off more and made her more competitive. I asked her (hopefully) if she ended up with an appreciation for any of these sports as an adult, and she told me that, no, she still hated all of the sports that her father taught her. Crap.

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