My 7-year old son is very into a game called Minecraft right now. For those of you who haven’t had the great fortune (yes, read that as sarcasm) of running into this game yet, it is, essentially, a cubist Eden in which the player gets to create …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
My 7-year old son is very into a game called Minecraft right now. For those of you who haven’t had the great fortune (yes, read that as sarcasm) of running into this game yet, it is, essentially, a cubist Eden in which the player gets to create his world. For instance, the other day my son and my 12-year old spent a couple hours putting a swimming pool with a water slide outside their characters’ home.
But, every once in a while, my son comes out of the game long enough to register a complaint. “Dad, it’s not letting me cut down the tree.” “Dad, I can’t get my rollercoaster to work.” “Dad, my sister hit me.” (Yeah, sometimes the real world intrudes).
Let me make it very clear up front that I know almost nothing about how the game works. I watch him play, I’m amazed at how quickly he buzzes around the controls, I’m awed by what comes out of his imagination, but I do not have the faintest idea how the game works. So, when he comes to me whining (no, it’s true: 7-year-old boys occasionally whine) about the game, there is almost nothing I can do about it.
Except shut it off. He hates that one. It’s my favorite.
Shortly after I propose that as the solution, he usually finds a different way to solve his problem, and onward the game goes. For another 20 minutes. Until I force him to go run 5k and then study his German and read one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Because I’m that kind of parent. Not at all the kind who is, every once in a while, grateful for 20 minutes to breathe while he plays a video game.
Yeah, that was sarcasm, too.
My son’s problem, when he runs into a roadblock, is usually that he focuses on the problem, instead of focusing on finding a solution. It’s like what I quoted a couple weeks ago, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” His willingness to retreat into whining makes him part of the problem.
Like I said, though, my son is 7 years old. I sort of expect problem focus from him. I can preach to him all day long about being the solution, but he’s not quite ready for that message yet. He just has to learn on his own and make the connection between his experience and my nagging someday.
But, then I got to thinking, “how often do I just whine about a problem, instead of working to solve it?” Sad to say, altogether too frequently. And, more often than not, I do it on Facebook. Facebook and Twitter and their ilk have become this society’s complaint department — have a beef? Tweet it!
Solutions are harder than complaints — they require thought, and planning, and energy and commitment. Not at all the sort of instant gratification we’ve become accustomed to seeking in latter-day America. But we have serious problems facing us, and I think it’s high time we stop giving people credit for being the most clever complainer, and start looking for problem-solvers.
And I’m going to start with me. You’ve indulged me for three years now as I share my observations and, yes, some complaints about our world. And I appreciate that, truly. Now, I am going to force myself to try to turn that corner and never leave a complaint without a solution idea.
Because if I’m not part of the solution, then I might as well just sit down on the floor and play video games with my son all day.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.