Friday, June 24, 2011

Failure for a video game

It's summer vacation in our school system -- in fact, one week of it is now behind us with 8-1/2 weeks still to go.  I feel a bit like a cross between Julie McCoy, Cruise Director, and Simon Legree.

My daughter feels she needs constant activity and entertainment to enjoy herself (and to motivate her to stay off her brother).  At 11, she's too old for "play dates," but there are few children she plays with in our neighborhood (OK, no children that she plays with in our neighborhood), so I can't just open the front door and tell her to come back home for dinner.  At 11, she's dependent on me to take her places or to pick up a friend.  I don't mind if she has a friend over -- two so far this week, with her at one's house, too -- but I can't get her to tell me the name of anyone from her class that she'd like to get together with over the summer.  It's a bit hard to set up a get-together when the pool of people is only two deep, and one of those two gets on her nerves more often than not.

She also wants family time on demand, asking for all of us to do something together regardless of schedule or interest.  And frankly, her brother just isn't interested.  He's an almost 14-year-old boy with Asperger's; playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii to a Ke$ha song simply isn't going to draw him away from Final Fantasy Gazillion.  Yet my daughter takes his disinterest as a personal insult and not as a manifestation of his disability combined with his age.  And whatever happened to the ability to entertain oneself?

My son, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to be left alone to entertain himself with video games.  He'd be quite content to stay in his boy cave in the basement and play games all day, with occasional forages in the pantry.  However, aside from the fact that there's more to life than video games -- Gasp! -- my son requires a taskmaster to complete his summer assignments.  He'll do them with only a prompt, but in his desire to get back to his current game, he is accepting mediocrity in himself.  This is not OK.  We've met too many people in his life already who are willing to accept mediocrity in him -- not only accept it, but encourage it.

My son doesn't pick up on subtle social cues; explicit teaching is typically necessary, but when he doesn't buy into the need for the skill being taught, brick walls are more accepting of the lesson than he is.  I have to find the "hook," and so far, the best I can come up with is that in order to keep that high-paying job he believes he's going to get, he will have to show his boss his best work all the time.  Promotions, retention, all will depend on his doing his job well.  Bring that closer, and the same will be true for his professors; closer still for high school.  "But Mom, who's gonna know if I use a calculator on these problems?"  "Son, ethics is doing what's right even when no one is looking.  And besides, you have to show your work."  "Aren't you supposed to be letting me fail to learn my lesson?"  "I'm not letting you fail so that you can go play a video game."

Eight-and-a-half weeks to go...

No comments: