Friday, October 5, 2007

Letting Your Children Win

Destroyer Divine's Commentary on....
"To let them win, or not to win?"

That is the age old question has propped up in conversations between me and Sharon at different intervals during our year and a half old relationship. My stern reasoning permits me to ask, "Why should I?"
Sharon, wants me to cave in out of sake of being "nice" to my children, but, I just can't cave in like that. Several questions would arise out of it, such as, "Daddy, you let me win didn't you?" or "Can you play me and actually TRY this time?" Children do actually want to give their all in what they do. By beating Jihan in chess, forces her to work on her game so that she will try harder the next time. Thus, when she actually beats the crap out of me, (*sarcasm included* yeah right!) in the distant future, she'll look back at all of those losses as necessary because without them, she would not appreciate the sweetness of victory. Of course, we have to temper that future win with grace, good sportsmanship and humility, but those are traits that will come through as I continue to play her. I may tease her a little, but never to the point where her feelings are crushed. A little ribbing may be annoying, but that annoyance if given with love and a wink, will give her the necessary will to continue working to best her father, not only in chess, but in other things, such as better job, more education, ect.

In this day and age of political correctness and making sure that we adults place emphasis on making sure that when our children compete, they are all given awards, somehow doesn't sit well with me. Please, allow me to give you my opinion on this.

I have always felt that life is a sketch of "survival of the fittest" and "the strong dictate to the weak". Yes, that may seem to be a bit harsh for some people who choose to coddle their young ones, but I don't see that as a viable option in raising my children. They are tough and aggressive. There are two types of people in the world, "carnivores and herbivores". I am in the carnivore group. What I mean by "carnivores and herbivores" is the following:
Carnivores take what they want, do what they want within reason, and take control of their lives. Herbivores do the opposite, they ask for what they want, the do what is permitted by others and they allow others to run their lives for them. I want my children to be in control of their own destinies so, I would rather err on the side of the "carnivore" group any day.

Losing at certain games, situations and the like are an integral part of life. Should we as parents, shield our children of these situations where they don't win? I argue the point, that we shouldn't. Life is full of wining and losing, and to shield them from it does them no good at all. Actually it harms them on the point of irresponsibility in many cases.

On a documentary I once watched about beauty contests for young girls, I noticed that there are often "tons" of categories in each pageant, so that as many of these girls go home with a prize, thus, helping them "enhance" their self esteem. I for one wouldn't let Jihan, my daughter, enter into something like a beauty pageant (as beautiful as she is), as I feel it demeans women and places them into the category of cattle at an auction, or could be a means of entering into a situation where a pedophile could end up being my daughter's "number one fan". So, that's out of the question. As far as the self esteem issue, I feel that children, especially girls, parents should take that extra time to praise them, reassure them and give them all of the ego building tools that will be necessary for them as adults. Nowadays, with parents not using their skills their parents taught them, now rely on television to take care of and teach their children.
In my household, my children have no such "babysitter" as their television time is extremely limited and completely dictated by me. They know to read or do something constructive, and often times, rather stay away from television for the most part.
It has to be that way, as I am fundamentally responsible for how they turn out as adults. Television as a teacher in how people are supposed to look and behave, is a poor teacher, so why is it that parents allow their children to spend hour upon hour watching it is beyond me. This use of television creates many of those unrealistic impressions of beauty that damage self esteem and what's real and what's fiction.
Jihan, as well as Mik'el Jr. are well aware of how they look and take pride in their appearance, but not so much that they are conceited. I have taken great pains to let them know that they are wonderful and beautiful, inside and out. Television, in my household is something that's more of a decorative fixture than an appliance, as it should be.

So, in the picture above, in the game between Jihan and me, you can see her seriously thinking about the next move. As she was thinking, a part of me was thinking that I should let her win so that her feelings don't get hurt, but then, the common sense side took over and decided to crush her as fast as I could.

Jihan lost in 6 moves the first game, and then she lost the next with all of her pieces captured while she only captured two of mine.

Her response?

A firm handshake and the following statement, "One day, I'm going to beat you so bad, that you'll never want to play chess again! How about next weekend? Loser wears underwear on their head around the house?"

How's that for self esteem and the will to dust yourself off and play until you get the results you want? I think my daughter is coming along quite nicely!

Mandatory Fun

Today was a pretty eventful day, if I say so myself, not because I was swamped with work, as is normal, but because it was my unit's organizational day, which we soldiers label "Mandatory Fun". As you can see by the look on my face at the beginning of this event, it's a mix of "Oh, here we go again *Sigh*" and "Ooooh, this does have some potential!" One of my best friends, Raven (who's about to choke me for photographing her earlier, without her knowledge or permission), usually ends up showing her distain for these types of events, as she's very gothic oriented, doesn't care for extreme sunlight and doesn't like social events with people she works with, as she is like I am, ANTI-SOCIAL with co-workers. It's just that she, like I am, is an intellectual type who doesn't care about talking about sports, gossip or meanspirited conversations about this person or that, which often is the usual subject at these functions. But, most importantly, as a senior to most of these soldiers, I always keep my life private as much as possible, so that the "wall" of professionalism, which is the seperation of leader and subordinate remains intact.

Yet, what was suprising though, was by the end of this day, Raven was echoing the same as I was, which I'll explain in a few paragraphs below. One thing that made this event actually decent was that it was held in Harker Heights at a park near city hall, which provided a very nice view of the hills and the more photogenic portion of Harker Heights.

What I thought was going to be a day of misery and woe, as most organizational days are, this one wasn't so bad. I guess because I actually took the time to just relax, talk to other soldiers in a "civilian" mode, rather than focus on work related issues. Then there was the difference in how people in uniform actually show their personalities through clothing. Many of my fellow soldiers actually looked like "normal" people, rather than exhibiting the "soldierly" mannerisms and vocabulary. We all let our hair down so to speak, and enjoyed a pretty decent day.
I was happy to see my soldiers actually joke with me and treat me as "one of the boys" where normally, they would shy away or try to outright avoid me, because I am definitely one of those stereotypical "drill sergeant" types, who's by the book and strict. Today, all of that was gone, as I played football and had a good time, even though my company's team lost and was knocked out of the tournament. Yeah, that was pretty embarrassing, as last year and the year before, we were the champions. Then, to compound the lousy performance of our football team, our frisbee football team placed last, as did our basketball team. That totally sucked as, last year all of my company's teams won and swept all of the tournaments, and talked major noise this year, because we were the champs!

Oh, well, you can't win them all, but even though we lost, the sense of camaraderie was there in full effect.

As the day wore on in the 90 degree heat, I spent most of the day just talking and re-establishing old friendships, reworking new friendships and just enjoying the company of people who I really felt that I didn't have any actual warm feelings for. Yet, through this day, the common feeling from most that I talked to (which was almost everyone there) was that, they didn't feel like being there, but, were actually having fun.
My only major downside, besides losing in football, was that my Sharon wasn't there to enjoy this day with me, and that cerain longing that I've grown accustomed to, but still don't like, was there hovering in the background. Missing someone whom you're totally in love with and committed to, does really gnaw at your heart and cause you pain, but the main consolation is that, she will be here in Texas in about 11 weeks! So, that does kind of dull the pain a bit, but seeing loving couples stealing a quick kiss, holding each other or walking hand and hand, really stands out to me. Yes! I'm jealous, but in a short while, I too will be able to do the same! LOL!

This time, I think my battalion got it right with the correct mix of enough events, no solid timelines for any event, and nothing forced (with the exception of being there). I hope that the next organizational day will be as this one was, not rushed, just relaxing and very pleasant.

For my soldiers who I thank for a very good day, here's some parting pictures, and let's do this again sometime!