She was so mad at me.
She’d been playing her online video game and was >this close< to a huge victory and all the intensely proud satisfaction and online rewards that came with this victory.
She’d already been playing for too long and I’d repeated myself twice already.
“Time’s up. You need to turn the computer off.”
“But… just…! I just….almost got this villain! Just a few more minutes!”
“You’ve been playing too long already. It’s not good for your eyes, and I already gave you your five- minute and your two-minute warning. Time’s up. Shut down your computer.”
“…but…I just… I’m almost done with this battle, Mama!”
“We can start talking about consequences, hon.”
Without looking at me, she closed her computer, hard, and scrambled up to her spot on the top bunk bed. I knew that quiet rage. It didn’t show itself often, but I knew that when she was really, really fuming, she had a tendency to turn deeply inward and shut me out. I heard the sniffles betray her desire to hide her feelings from me.
I gave her a few minutes to work through the climax of her upsetedness, and when I heard the stifled sobs quiet down, I took a deep breath and climbed up the bunk ladder to sit next to her.
“You’re mad at me.”
“I worked so hard to fight that super hard villain. I was so close to winning an ultra-rare prize that you only get when you win against that villain in your first battle. But then you made me get off and I lost my chance to win, I lost my chance to get that ultra-rare prize. You should’ve let me stay on!”
I’m sorry that me making you get off your computer led to you losing the chance to beat that villain and win that prize. I know you’re really sad about that, and I’m sorry.
But sweet girl…I need you to understand, it’s a game. It’s not reality. My job as your parent is to teach you how to treat reality as more important in your life than a game. Reality is, I love you too much to let you play a game endlessly throughout a day and have all your best energy and biggest emotions caught up in it. Reality is, that ultra-rare prize you wanted doesn’t actually exist. Reality is, it’s time to spend time with family and have real bedtime snuggles. Reality is, once that computer is off, the game is gone…but I’m right here. Your Daddy and your sister are right here and it’s family time now.”
Her shoulders dropped and she sighed softly.
“I love you, sweet girl.”
“I know. I love you, too.”
Sometimes, Love lets us hurt over the wrong things so that we can learn to live for the right things.