Valuable lessons learned from a Nintendo 3DS

“I bit my 3DS [Nintendo] because I was so mad [at] losing. I should not do that because it may give me germs. I could have lost it for good. They [mom and dad] should give it back to me because I’ve done a lot of good things. I found my mom’s [diamond] earring. I’m always good in school. I always get good grades.

I learned my lesson. I could have been grounded. My dad and mom don’t have to give it back to me. Mom tells me to be happy because she says [a lot of] kids don’t have the stuff like our place. They don’t have the money to buy toys, computers, food, bathroom, [a] Kindle, [Sony] DS, movies, TV’s, [a] pool, beds, fireplace, playground, clothes, [a] backyard or rooms, so I should make myself lucky since I have my DS.

I’m happy because I have a dog; I have toys, a sister, a mom and dad, a[n] uncle, a grand mom, a 3DS….”

This is a large part of an essay that my 9-year-old son wrote. He broke his 3DS about two months after he received it as a birthday present. Three months went by before my investigative nature discovered why his Kindle Fire was being used more for games and less for reading.

He’d done wrong. He knew that his actions were wrong.

So he hid his actions from mom and dad.

Although his game was replaced by the manufacturer, we did not give it right back to him. He needed to understand the severity of his actions.

To help my children think about their actions and behaviors, one strategy is to require them to write. They must write essays about the lessons that they learned from making poor choices and better ways to handle similar situations.

Writing an essay is productive. More productive than some of the consequences that I endured as a child. Writing involves being still, being quiet, and constructive thought time. Every child and adult can benefit from the process. To clear my mind, I often write.

After he wrote the essay, I wanted to know more from my son about his potential actions when playing his game in the future. So I asked him, what will he do the next time that he gets frustrated or “mad” because the game is beating him. In a slow and deliberate manner he said,

“I’m going to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Calm down and try again. That’s what I did to beat Super Mario 3D Land.”

Where does the “deep breath” come from? On and off (more off lately, but we’ll get back on track over the summer) from meditation.

Meditation is good for everyone, including kids. If you recognize that you feel stress– you make a conscious decision to address it constructively. Meditation is a positive way to relieve stress and to refocus. Best of all, you can meditate anywhere.

While his essay may not be written grammatically perfect, neither are some of my writings without consistent and precise editing. Another day he will put on his teacher’s hat and edit his work.

The idea isn’t for him to write a perfect essay. The point is to teach him to think about his actions, choices, and understand that consequences are the result of his choices. Children grow up to become adults. As adults we must also face consequences; some good some not so good. Either way, if we can help our children to understand the connection between the two at a young age, they should grow up to make smarter choices. Making smarter choices doesn’t equate to a perfect life, but it can definitely make life more fulfilling.

I’m fulfilled in what I do… I never thought that a lot of money or fine clothes — the finer things of life — would make you happy. My concept of happiness is to be filled in a spiritual sense.
Coretta Scott King

A promising future

“…among his many accomplishments… made the Dean’s List in college every year… graduated Suma Cum Laude… a Master’s Degree in  Business Administration… served as graduate assistant for the MBA Program…”

The description signifies success and a promising future.  Sadly the words are taken from the obituary from a young man who was gunned down on New Year’s Day 2012. He would not live to see his 31st birthday.  I did not know the young man, but my heart aches for his surviving family members, especially his mother and father.  I cannot even begin to imagine the grief and sorrow felt by his parents.

Parents are not supposed to bury their children, but this daunting task is reoccurring more often than not.

When the story broke New Year’s Day, I cringed.  I thought,

“He made it through his teen years.  He made it through college.  He was smart.  He graduated with honors. What happened?  How do I prevent my son from falling victim to these heinous crimes?”

In my mind, he’d made it! He made it through the “high risk” and “troubled” teen years.  The local newspaper also reported that he was an Entrepreneur and was planning the opening of a new store. Could his death been prevented?  I don’t know the circumstances.  I only hope and pray that his death does not go in vain and hope that somehow something positive can evolve from his death.

This story makes me want to hold my kids tighter, tell them that I love them even more, kiss them more every day and never let them out of my sight.  I know the latter is impossible, but the words sum up my feelings.

This story and others like this frighten me.  Why?  I have a young son.  He’s a minority and the statistics don’t look good.  However, I do know that through faith in God, prayer, good parenting, a structured environment, support from my village, a solid education, steady discipline, and lessons on how to make smart choices, can help to put him in the position to succeed.

So, you might ask, “What’s the point of this post?”    The death of this young man is a reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. And when it comes to our children, we have to clinch and act on the concept of unconditional love.  The early and late teen years are tough; both for parents and for our children.  In spite of disappointments, upsets, and whatever else we may face, we have to continue to support and encourage.

As parents, we must remember our own missteps and shortfalls and understand that our children will too encounter their own mistakes.  We can only hope and pray that their mistakes are not life altering.  Meanwhile, we should remain supportive, encouraging, and continue to practice unconditional love.