Standing in line at the poolside bar, collecting my vodka and Diet Coke, early in the evening on a June Thursday. My oldest child has just completed the IM, sort of poorly. This doesn't concern me overmuch, because:
He is the youngest and smallest swimmer in his age bracket;
He had a dive meet the night before, in which he acquitted himself quite well (all 5's and above until his last dive, which was also his easiest dive and which earned him a 4 1/2 on account of a form break);
He spent his time between early AM swim and dive practice at day camp, playing tennis and dodgeball and generally running himself ragged; and
He's an eleven year-old, dang it. As one of the other team moms was heard to say, in response to her husband's complaint that expecting the "older" kids (9 and up) to complete the IM (four LONG laps) and THEN compete in individual events was beyond ridiculous: "They're little kids. It's a summer club league. No college scholarships are on the line here."
100% agreed. This is all about gaining experience, developing skills, building stamina (the point, I think, behind being forced to swim a four-lap event and THEN four one-lap events) and learning to challgenge yourself. So I don't care that much (or at all) about ribbons; I only care that he applies himself to the task at hand and comes away with something meaningful.
When the eleven year-old approaches with a worried expression, my initial assessment is, "He's mad at himself for not doing well, or he's angry that his coaches made him swim the IM first." I dust off my "this is all about gaining experience" speech from the paragraph above.
"Did you watch?"
"Where did I finish?"
"Back of the pack. But -"
"Oh, well that's okay. I'm really tired. Mom, listen - do you think that I'm mature enough to play Halo Reach?"
"I REALLY want to buy Halo Reach with my own money, but Dad says I can't until he researches it. Mom, I SWEAR, it should NEVER have been given a mature rating, because there's ONLY A LITTLE blood in it, and the little blood that there IS in the game is ALIEN BLOOD, and it's purple and TOTALLY unrealistic, not like the blood in other games, and also I'm not one of those kids who thinks that, because you see someone killed on TV or in a game, it is okay to kill people in real life. I can separate fantasy from fiction. And, anyway, it's not like you really KILL the aliens - you just sort of neutralize them . . . ."
So. Many. Thoughts. How does he know this much about Halo Reach, given that he doesn't own it? What "other games" are his basis for comparison in assessing the blood and gore factor? And - is that a PIMPLE on my almost-twelve-year-old's forehead?
"Connor, is that a pimple on your forehead?"
The spawn of two attorneys goes in for the kill.
"YES. Which means that I'm maturing - and if I'm old enough for zits, I'm definitely old enough for Halo Reach."
Conclusions: his head was most definitely in the game, albeit not in the game in which he was supposed to be participating. And I foresee many arguments over age-appropriate behaviors and activities ahead.