Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Watching is Rewarding Enough

After his great week at school, we wanted to do something a little special with our son this weekend.  We gave him a couple of choices and he picked going to an arcade.

We had been there once before, a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday party, so Kai was familiar with the games that were there.  After we entered this time, he quickly went over to the Mario Kart game.  For those not familiar, this is a popular video game where players race go-karts.  It is Kai’s favorite video game, though he never played it before and had no intention of playing it yesterday.

Instead, he just wanted to watch others play. 

Since it was Sunday, it was not very crowded when we got there.  No one was playing this game so Kai asked me to.  I have never been one for video games, and am pretty terrible at them.  Still, since this was his treat for doing well at school, I tried my best.  But, in the first game, I came in dead last. 

I asked Kai if he was sure that he did not want to play, and he confirmed that he did not want to.  He wanted me to play again so I popped in more coins and tried again.  Again, I was last. 

This went on for a little while, with the same result each time.  Finally, I had had enough.  Let’s play some skee-ball. “No.”  How about anything else?  “No.”

After a while, a little boy came to play on the adjacent Mario game.  He was smaller than Kai and his feet did not reach the pedals so his dad pressed those while the boy steered.  This boy was pretty good, certainly much better than I was, and he captured first place in his game.  Kai was happy for him and enjoyed watching him play.  I no longer felt obligated to keep playing myself. 

When that boy was done, we watched a little girl play.  And then another boy.  And so on.  We were in the arcade for about an hour and a half. 

Kai did not play a single game.

I am not exactly sure what his fascination is with this game.  Perhaps it is all the bright colors.  Certainly the timer and lap counter are huge attractions, though other games have numbers as well. 

As to why he never wanted to play himself, he later said that it was too hard.  For a boy who does not like to ride on a bicycle, the movement and controls of this game probably seem overwhelming.

At dinnertime, we asked him to tell us the most fun thing he did all day.  He said going to the arcade with Dad. 

I’m a bit perplexed that he would have so much fun just watching.  But, then I remember that I used to spend my Sunday afternoons just watching football on TV.  I’m not sure if that is the same thing for him.  I am just glad that he enjoyed his special treat.

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