I finally let my sons play the Spider-man game. My 7-year-old started on the easiest difficulty setting and I still had to help him through some of the challenges.
But three weeks later, everything had changed. I walked up behind him while he was playing and he said, “Daddy, look what I set it on.”
He was playing on the highest difficulty setting you could set the game on. I hadn’t even played it on the highest difficulty setting.
“Why did you do that?” I asked.
“Because it’s more fun.”
“Are you dying a lot?”
“Not really,” he said and then proceeded to prove that statement true. As I watched, my jaw slowly sank to the floor. He was fighting wave after wave of bad guys in a seamless dance, countering at the perfect time, throwing back grenades, and shooting webs between combos. He came close to dying several times, but in the end, he completed the mission.
It was the perfect metaphor. We initially hold their hand, but we want them to walk on their own. And not just walk, but excel. It also highlights the need for progressive challenges for our children. Boys, especially, need things to be difficult in order not to be bored out of their minds. I’ve seen it happen in schools, especially public schools, where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the gifted.
But real life isn’t a video game. New challenges can be dangerous, which is why many parents fail to let their kids level up. But new challenges they must face and we must let them face them.