Puberty connection and Nintendo
by Archie Wortham --show me more like this
"What does Nintendo have to do with entering puberty?" I asked a group of young boys about to enter puberty. To retorts of ‘nothing', ‘I don't know,' and "What's puberty?" I responded "ALWAYS NEW GAMES. FRUSTRATING UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON!"
I'm not sure where I the Nintendo analogy originated, but I got the fifth graders to see what I was talking about. "Imagine" I asked them, "you are playing a game you think you know. At first, you're fine. Then...all of a sudden, something happens you didn't expect and you get frustrated. What do you do?" The boys told me they "cry; try again;" or "call somebody they know has been there before."
Dads, does this not sound like the pre-pubescent manta you may have experienced when you were a kid? For some of the boys, the light came on as they thought about how they handled Nintendo. For others, their minds were as eclipsed by the analogy as mine was when acne hit. Puberty was darkness for me, and I stayed that way for a good deal of my adult life. (There are some who still think I'm still at home with no lights).
What was the point I wanted them to understand? I wanted them to understand that nothing was going to happen to them that was any different from what happened to their older brothers, or their dads when they were the same age. I wanted them to realize there was a time when dads didn't have hair on their chins, under their arms, or other places Mother Nature placed it. I wanted them to understand it was okay to get frustrated. It was okay to cry, or hate puberty the way they might hate Nintendo. However, as with Nintendo, I assured them, the end happens, particularly when they preserve. That goes for dads like me who have not had a son go through puberty. Don't think I'll hesitate calling one of you to check my sanity by asking about yours. Maybe I'll discover my son no different.
Recently my son went through a transformation. He was doing something he liked to do, but then forgot the significance of what he was doing. Other people didn't like sharing the task with him. Now me, like most men, I think I can control everything, or at least I'd like to think that. Still, there are parents who choose to let others handle their issues rather than teach their kids to handle their own issues. People got on welfare that way, by letting outsiders handle their problems. Not me. I reminded my son of Nintendo. I told him, "If you quit just because people force you into a box, people will always find a box for you. If there is something you like to do, find a way to do it so people learn to respect you for not being a quitter."
Dads, none of us are perfect, and as with Nintendo, we have to learn the rules to play the game. So as your son goes through pubescent changes, remember how he responds when he is frustrated. Maybe sometimes what he's feeling or what he says has nothing to do with you, his mom, sister, brother or school. He's just trying to cope with becoming a man. Remember, he'll need an adult man to help him through. Sometimes it may not be you, so call a dad you respect. Find time for you and another dad to do something together with your kids, and talk. It's hard for us dads to think we can't be everything to our sons. But we can't. The sooner we ask mom's opinion and listen to her the sooner our frustrations will dissipate. Though we men might try to navigate without a map, it's hard to drive without a steering wheel. Remember, there's nothing wrong with asking for directions.
Remember, kids learn to do things by watching and listening. Tell them it's okay to be frustrated. Let them know it's okay for them to have mood swings. Let them know that because their bodies are changing doesn't mean you love them less.
Most of all, let them know they are becoming more like you. That's a hard one, because as I look in the mirror, I hope so much that my sons will be much better than I ever was. But, then I think...if I'm so bad, then why not change? And if I'm okay? Then leave them alone as they figure out for themselves (as I did) what's important to them, and ‘be there' to help them anyway I can. No one has to accept being boxed in by anyone! And the parents who build those boxes are the best ones to tear those boxes down.
Copyright © 2001
. All rights reserved.