Brooke has recently begun to master the computer. A couple of weeks ago, she showed an interest in manipulating the mouse – something entirely new. The next thing we knew (or to be more precise, after some gentle pushing, a little prodding and some frustrated tears later), we were off and running on Noggin.com.
She has fallen in love with (become obsessed with? – whatever, let’s not split hairs) a couple of games and we now have to carefully ration her time on the computer. The Oobi letter game is one of the favorites. In the game, Oobi presents a letter and makes its sound. He – wait, is Oobi a ‘he’? I guess I’m just assuming. How does one determine the gender of a hand? I’m sure there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, but this is a family show, so let’s carry on – ‘he’ then presents two objects, emphasizing the first sound of each one. The kids then have to click on the one that starts with said letter. When they answer three questions correctly, the game ends.
Brooke can rock this game. She knows her letter sounds like nobody’s business and the game is set up to ensure success. And yet, each and every time she plays, she clicks on the wrong object before the right one. EVERY time.
And then she laughs her little butt off.
When an incorrect answer is clicked, Oobi says, “Uh-uh. Try again.”
She laughs so hard she snorts. She LOVES Oobi’s ‘uh-uh.’
Katie sits by and watches, getting increasingly frustrated. Mama, she keeps getting them wrong. Doesn’t she know better?
I’ve explained to Katie that although she does indeed know the right answer, it’s apparently far more entertaining for her to click on the ‘wrong’ one. That the real reward for her is getting to hear Oobi say ‘uh-uh’ and in prolonging the life of the game. That the game is far more satisfying to her when she plays it in her own way. That she can know the ‘right’ answer without the insecurity of needing the rest of the world to know that she knows it. (A lesson both Mama and Katie could bear to learn, no doubt.) That she is actually getting the answers ‘right’ because she is getting exactly what she wants by answering them the way that she does.
OUR goals for her, OUR vision, OUR motivations – they are ours. They are not hers. Brooke has her own ideas. She has done nothing if not make it plain as day that she has her own plan, that she sees this world in her own way. That artificial timelines and expectations of what’s ‘typical’ are irrelevant to her. That the carrot that we hold on the end of the stick may not be even remotely enticing to her. That she will always, always go find her own damned carrot.
You know, Katie, I think she might indeed know better. Far better.