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Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.


My husband is a genius. Please do not, under any circumstance, reveal this information to him. However, I have to tell you that he has invented the single most brilliant behavior modification technique in the history of child-rearing. And it’s actually working!

My seven-year-old son, Eli, is a highly intelligent, creative youngster with an iron will and emotional intensity that’s off the charts. To say he’s been a challenge lately would be like saying Tim Tebow considers himself moderately religious.

In all sincerity, I was ready to throw in the parenting towel and either send him off to boarding school or ship myself out to the coast to some chi-chi wellness center to try and recover a modicum of sanity. But Mark, my husband, cured his behavioral misconduct with one word: FOOTBALL.

Eli is obsessed with football. He lives, breathes and sleeps football. In fact, if I would let him, he would talk incessantly about football, play football in the backyard from dawn to dusk, and literally eat pig skin morning, noon and night if it wasn’t such a dietary no-no in our religion.

Never in a million years would I have thought that football, the bane of my existence, would restore my life to harmony and return my family to a state of peace and well-being. But thanks to Mark, that’s exactly what happened.

You see my husband Mark is a highly intelligent, creative man with an iron will and emotional intensity that’s off the charts. (Funny how that apple analogy keeps coming up.) He’s also the only person on the planet who is more competitive than Eli. So, determined to win the battle of the wills with our son and get his tantrums, hysterics, and irrational behavior under control, Mark invented a fantasy football game that allows Eli to gain yardage for proper behavior, score touchdowns for initiating positive actions and win major rivalry matches for controlling his anger and expressing his feelings appropriately. On the other hand, there are interceptions, fumbles and high scoring opponents whenever behavior takes a turn for the worse.

Their games are intricate and intense, They hold Eli’s attention and stimulate his imagination. And due to his acute competitive edge, he desperately wants to win these games and propel his team (the New York Giants) all the way to the imaginary Super Bowl.

We have seen a 180 degree turn in his behavior since initiating this game. It’s hard to believe. The other day, just as a meltdown was pending over a disastrous Mario Kart Wii showdown with his brother, I broke the news that his rival team of the day, the Denver Broncos, had recovered a fumble at the 50 yard line and were running the ball down the field at an almost unstoppable pace. He took a few deep breaths and regained his composure just in time to tackle Champ Bailey at the Giant’s 30 yard line.

I will admit it’s taken a while for me to figure out the ins and outs of the exercise. Mostly because I abhor football and have never had even the slightest inkling to learn about the game. But besides one embarrassing gaff the other day when I had Eli Manning throw a touch-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, I’ve been pretty much holding my own. I’m even getting into it and enjoying the sport for the first time ever.

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this whole thing is Mark’s sneaky way of modifying my snarky football attitude. Behavior modification X2. Woah. That’s either brilliant or…downright Machiavellian. Oh heck, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I mean “tis the season” and all that crap.

Happy Holidays! And may your New Year be filled with endless touchdown passes, countless first downs, and unlimited extra points!

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About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

One response to “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

  1. Sticky

    Ppl like you get all the brains. I just get to say thanks for he awnesr.

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