I promise you, I wasn’t always like this. I do distinctly remember getting into a massive argument with Nick over why he insisted on beating Mazi, his son/my stepson, at basketball and our Mari at Candy Land. Like, what grown man thinks it’s okay to body check an 8-year-old, hundreds of pounds lighter than his adult opponent, in a “friendly” father vs. son game of pick-up? Or that telling a barely 5-year-old little girl that she needs to “step up” her Candy Land skills or she’s going to keep losing?
I focused on seeing red while I half-listened to his argument, which went something like, “I’m not gonna let them win! They have to earn the win! Nobody’s going to hand them the win when they go out into the real world! And I’m not going to be the guy who sends them out there thinking they’re the best at something knowing that they’re gonna get stomped when they compete against some other kid who learned how to play the game for real. That’ll hurt much worse!”
I wasn’t trying to hear all of that. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah—and stop making the babies cry.
I’ve kinda always been of the mindset that letting the kids win is a self-esteem booster—a feel-good strategy that gives kids the confidence they crave while they’re learning how to be competitive. And oh, it’s also a nifty way of avoiding teary outbursts and tantrums and stuff. The kind that no mom wants to deal with when the whole purpose of the fun, friendly, feel-good family game night was to be fun and friendly and whatnot.
But then, Michael Jackson came into our lives. More specifically, the new Michael Jackson Wii game. It’s got a sparkly glove and “Remember the Time” and “Workin’ Day and Night” and “Rock With You” and dances featuring MJ when he was cute and fresh and not weird and I wanted to be his girlfriend. Plus, you get to do crotch-grabbing and lots of random twirls without having to explain yourself. Crotch-grabbing and twirls, people. Crotch-grabbing and twirls!
I’m just saying, when that music comes on and the Michael Jackson with the afro starts strutting across the screen and I get to waving that Wii controller and the points start racking up? Yeah—I don’t really care if you’re eight or 11 or I pushed you through my loins or your mouth is poked out because Mommy, who watched and danced to the original “Remember the Time” video with Eddie Murphy and Iman, like, a gazillion times, has a distinct advantage over the little people in the room. It is what it is. Get your weight up, son! Mommy’s the dance master. I got moves.
I think at some point I got all Tiger Mom on Mari because she wasn’t putting her back into being my background dancer. “Yo,” I barked. “You’re just moving your arms! You’re not going to get any gold moves with that, dude. Move something!”
I don’t think she took too kindly, either, to my getting in her face and doing the, “Mommy Is the Champion” dance after I stomped her three dances in a row. Which of course included crotch-grabbing and twirls. By the time I finished with her, Lila mysteriously “bumped her leg” on the kitchen cabinet and had to forgo competing to let her leg “recuperate.”
(Ooh. Did I say that about my baby?)
Well at least they didn’t cry. And I’m getting a helluva workout hitting all my moves—better than any expensive aerobics, exotic dance or Zumba class I’d have to pay for and then squeeze in between running the kids to all their extracurricular activities and cooking dinner and writing and volunteering and sleeping for, like, four hours every other night and sometimes on the weekends. And quietly? I’m even sneaking in Michael Jackson Wii Dance and Just Dance 2 sessions while Mari and Lila are at school. I’ve almost got all the moves for "Thriller" and Andre 3,000’s "Hey Ya" down. Next time we have a dance-off, I’m gonna be killing them proper.
Hey, according to my husband and Amy Chua, it’s good for the character.
*Insert a picture of Denene twirling and grabbing her crotch here*