Daughters can be hard on Dad’s ego. I know this, having raised three daughters myself. (My wife may have helped some).
There are several specific incidents where my daughters dealt me a healthy dose of humility. The first involved a James Bond video game. My oldest daughter was 13 when we got Golden Eye 007. This game allowed for multiple players to compete with pistols while wandering around in various 3D scenarios, such as buildings, caves, etc.
This one was especially hard on Dad’s ego. I lack the ability to think in terms of 3 dimensions in a video game. My clever approach to the game included wandering aimlessly, hopelessly lost, in search of my opponent. I usually took the role of James Bond, while my daughter played the villain.
Let’s just say that poor old James died a lot. My daughter had no trouble finding her way around in those 3D mazes. She took great delight in sneaking up on me/007 and dispatching my character repeatedly. My frustration often grew to the level where I wanted my spy to jump off a cliff. Unfortunately, that particular strategy was not programmed into the game.
As if this was not bad enough, my 13-year-old taught my 11-year-old how to play the game. She also had the intuitive ability to find her way around in this virtual 3D world. The two of them would gang up on me, and giggle ruthlessly as they dispatched daddy James Bond over and over. They would even take turns, predicting where and when they would shoot poor 007. If the real James Bond had been as bad as his job as I was at that game, jolly old England would have been in deep doo-doo.
Then my youngest daughter became old enough to play video games. We started when she was seven, playing a Mickey and Minnie Mouse racing game. I was always Mickey, and we raced in a number of different types of cars and motorcycles. Again, the race tracks were all in 3D, including buildings, highways, mountains, you name it.
I spent as much time going the wrong direction as I did racing her, and I never won a single race in all the years we played that game. She took great delight in beating me, and each time I played until the frustration was too great. Then, I would make some excuse to quit. “I’m hungry. Let’s get some candy.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Mommy wants you to go shopping with her.” Anything to stop the ego-bruising slaughter.
When the youngest daughter was in junior high school, we started playing the HALO series of video games. We played together, fighting the aliens as a team. Actually, she would fight the aliens while I wandered around randomly, trying to find the aliens.
Once in a while she would lead me to a vehicle, such as a tank or truck with 50 caliber gun on the back. I usually wanted to drive, and apparently my inability to think in 3D made it difficult for her to effectively operate the gun. She would sometimes get so frustrated with my incompetence that she would shoot me or run over me with one of the vehicles. I thought this a bit extreme, but it seemed to help relieve her frustration.
Then there was the Kill All Humans game. In this one, my daughter and I were aliens working together to take over the earth. This game had a special feature, where if one of the alien team wandered too far from the other, the other alien would automatically transport to the location of the partner. This also resulted in frustration for my daughter.
Just as she was about to dispatch a bunch of humans, I would become totally lost and wander too far from the action. Her alien character would be transported to my location, thus thwarting her ability to complete her mission. Much like HALO, in her frustration her alien would accidentally shoot mine, taking me out of the game for several minutes so she could play unhindered by my aimless wandering. I’m grateful to this day that life doesn’t imitate these video games, or I might just be out of the game for good.
There’s also my all-time favorite game, basketball (the sport, not the video game). I’m from Indiana, where Bobby Knight was king in the good old days, and I’m also tall. I played a lot of basketball, including being recruited to play in college. So there I was, a father with a passion for basketball and a dynamite jump shot. We put up a hoop over the garage, and I encouraged my youngest daughter to partake of the game. I even took her back to Indiana to attend a couple of basketball camps at my old alma mater. How could this turn out to be hard on Dad’s ego, you ask?
The basketball thing was especially hard on Dad’s ego. When I was younger, basketball had been my whole life, and I was good at it. Then, here comes this daughter, who as a freshman in high school, could beat me at free throw shooting and horse.
And worse, when I tried to help her improve her jump shot, she pointed out that I was doing it all wrong. If you want to make a 3-pointer, you need to shoot the ball from chest height so that you can get more of your arms and legs into it for distance. This is what they taught her in that basketball camp that I sent her to. When I played the game, there was no 3-pointer, and I learned to hold the ball over my head to shoot. I was so convinced I was right that I went to that all knowing internet for proof. As it turns out, I WAS WRONG. Score one more for the daughter; very hard on Dad’s ego.
Finally, I have a graduate degree in pharmacology, and I was around when desktop computers first arrived on the scene. I have always prided myself on staying tech savvy. Then I got older, and the laptop, iPhone, and those damned apps showed up on the scene, and it all came fast and furious.
My wife and I were having a dreadful time with android cell phones and Microsoft computers, with countless viruses, glitches, software incompatibilities, etc. I finally had to admit I didn’t know what the hell I was doing anymore. I turned to this same daughter, who now was in college studying media arts and design, and asked her for help. She seems to have grown up with a special gene that allows her to intuitively understand how this tech stuff works.
She helped set us both up with Mac laptops and iPhones and provided the necessary training for the conversion. We haven’t had any problems since, with the exception that Apple has become really proud of their iPhones, to the tune of $1000 a pop. So, now the daughter is the tech expert, really hard on Dad’s ego.
This holiday, our now 25-year-old daughter came home for Christmas. She brought her Nintendo Switch, and challenged me to play various Mario racing games with her. In these games, the characters have ways of hindering the opponents progress. She let me play a few games on my own to practice, and I came in first most off the time, beating the computer-generated characters in the game. Then, my daughter took charge of the other controller and joined the race. We played about a kajillion games over the span of a week, and I must have been blown up, crashed, lost and generally destroyed a million times.
She was merciless. My frustration grew and grew to the point where I offered her money to let me win, just once. Her response was, “Why would I do that? You raised me to be a strong, independent woman. Letting you win just wouldn’t be right.” Talk about being hard on Dad’s ego.
My response was, “I have to go to the bathroom.” “Why don’t you go shopping with your mother?” “I’m hungry. How’s about we get some candy?” Oh well, it worked when they were little. It was worth a shot.
If you got some laughs from this blog post, you might enjoy my comedy murder mystery PLEASURIA: Take as Directed (Koehler Books). You can buy it in bookstores or on Amazon at http://bit.ly/pleasuria . I am giving all my after-tax profits from the book to two children’s charities, Holly’s House and Darkness-to-Light.