Posted by: Bruce Allen | April 18, 2008

From My Life’s Laugh Track…

…a moment created by our youngest daughter when she was perhaps 8 years old. It involved my wife, a video game system–Sega?–and a Mario Brothers cartridge.

My wife has many fine qualities; marvelous, redeeming, virtuous qualities, among which is no discernible ability with video games or the like. She is generally inept with controllers, in that they are comprised of buttons, knobs and joysticks, none of which really “click” with her in such a way as to permit the development of what you might call “skill”. The worse she does, the more anxious she becomes. The more anxious she becomes, the more she laughs, compounding the beatdown. Our youngest, at 8, had some average skills, which is to say, 10 times better than either her mom or myself. More importantly for the story, she has a mean nature and a dark sense of humor.

On the day in question, daughter was home from school, with mom and dad; I was usually at work. She may have been sick that day. She is playing Mario Brothers by herself, and my wife, in the midst of managing Life As We Know It, asks her in passing if she would like a little competition. A sweet gesture, given their relative skill levels. Daughter proceeds to trounce mom a few times before re-arranging the cushions on the floor and starting Mismatch #3.

As the 3rd match begins, mom curiously jumps out in front. Suddenly, she is speeding along, avoiding pitfalls, destroying tiny animated threats, accumulating major points. Daughter is lagging curiously behind, although apparently concentrating hard. Despite the increasingly likely upset, she seems happy. I assume she’s pleased that her mom is finally getting it. And mom WAS pleased, shouting with glee at her sudden ability, trash-talking her daughter, see you at the next level suckah, that sort of thing.

Actually, what had daughter amused was the fact that, unbeknownst to mom, she had switched controllers before the race. She was driving mom’s character, while her character limped around in small circles at the beginning of the course, under mom’s unwitting control. The caption would later read, “Mom, Getting Pimped by 8 Year Old”.

Most of us look forward to living long enough to get occasionally outsmarted by our children. When it occurs in 2nd grade, however, you realize it’s going to be a long haul. Our baby, the innocent one who never uttered a curse word until she was, like, 18. Deliberately and willfully taking advantage of her mother’s good nature for a cheap laugh. I laughed so hard I practically asphyxiated myself–it could have just as easily been me.

I’ve never been so proud. Our youngest, continuing the trans-generational quest for the big laugh. It’s a gift.

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