Love is the journey, not the destination

By Mir
March 26, 2009

As the youngest and possibly most impulsive and least patient member of our family, I oftentimes wonder if Monkey feels like his entire life is just everyone telling him NO, over and over again. Some days, it feels like that’s all I do. Put your feet down and sit properly. Please don’t bang. Stop jiggling. Don’t hum at the table. Because she’s older than you are. Because that’s the way it is. Because I said so. No, you may not go ride your bike in the rain. Why is there laundry all over the floor. What happened here??

It’s not exactly the flowers and rainbows and life of constant kisses and hugs and ice cream that I’d always dreamed of, when I pictured motherhood.

One of Monkey’s most endearing qualities, though, is that he’s relentlessly cheerful about 90% of the time. (During the remaining 10% it is recommended that you find the nearest bomb shelter for your own personal safety, but that’s another topic for another day.) And my Monkey has recently discovered a new talent.

It turns out that Monkey is a Mario Kart savant.

I have to say, I’m truly surprised by how much the entire family is enjoying the Wii. But the favorite game, so far, is Mario Kart. Hands down. And while we all enjoy it, it’s Monkey who always finishes first, who memorizes courses in secret compartments of his brain and drives his way to victory time and time again.

He’ll play by himself quite happily, but lately he’s taken to sidling into my office and standing there on his tiptoes with his hands behind his back until I turn to him.

“So Mom,” he’ll start out. “Are you super-busy?”

Sometimes I actually am “super-busy.” But sometimes I’m not, and I know what’s coming. “Oh, I could probably take a break, Son. What’s up?”

Then that smile that slays me cracks open his face as he reveals the steering wheel he’s been holding. He holds it out to me with a flourish. “Want to play a little Mario Kart?” he asks, in the same voice you might suggest that drugs are pretty cool, kid, and maybe you should just try it to see if you like it.

It’s an offer I can’t refuse.

Monkey likes us to race as a team, so that we can cheer for each other. The thing is, I’m perfectly fine at Mario Kart as long as it’s a closed race track (only about half of them are). On courses where you can drive off the edge of the world into a canyon or lava or water, I am forever going kamikaze by accident. You’d think that a kid like Monkey—who likes order and perfection—would find this infuriating.

But this is my secret: The worse my driving, the more I like playing with him.

On games where we finish 1st and 2nd, Monkey cheers and high-fives me and tells me I did a great job.

On games where I keep falling off the track and find myself in last place, the student becomes the master.

“That’s okay, Mom,” he calls, as my car sizzles into nothingness in the lava while I yelp, and his car continues zooming ’round the course in first place. “You’ll catch up. And all that really matters is that you’re having fun and trying your best.”

“My best kind of SUCKS,” I’ll point out, if I’m feeling a little frustrated by lack of finesse.

“Your best is AWESOME,” he corrects me. “Look! You already passed another car! GREAT JOB, MOM!”

Here I usually mutter as my car is zapped by lightning or some other atrocity.

“I know you can do it,” he tells me, echoing words I’ve said to him countless times and never really knew if he was hearing. “You can do anything you put your mind to! And we are having such a great time, it really doesn’t matter if we win, anyway.”

When he finishes ahead of me—as he so often does—he scoots over on the couch and just barely rests his chin on my shoulder and acts as navigator. “Stay to the left up here. PERFECT! Now watch out for the caterpillar. YOU DID IT! You’re almost done! Keep it up! FINISHED! Mom, tenth place is really good for that track. I’m proud of you!”

I don’t win at Mario Kart very often. Not according to the Wii, anyway. Funny, though—I feel like a winner every single time we play. Who knew a few hunks of plastic could bring me such a precious gift?

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May we all pay less attention to the supposed goal, and spend more time savoring the trip.


  1. Summer

    Looks like we’re going to need a second wheel for our recently-ordered, not-yet-arrived Mario Kart. I want to be able to bond over bad driving, too.

  2. Sara

    I love that Monkey. Oh he will make some girl very lucky someday, but until then, aren’t you the lucky one, eh?

  3. Half Assed Kitchen

    Families that Wii together…

    Loved your story. Thanks for brightening my Thursday.

  4. JNo

    Oh my gosh – this is my youngest (6) and I playing wii Star Wars Legos. “Mom please help me, I need you to stand on a button.” But A I’m not very good. “You can be a gun person – you don’t kill me as often when you’re a gun person, and you know if you practice, you’ll get better. Mom, this is a flying one, you’d better drop out for a little bit, I’m a better flier than you, but you can come back in when we’re done flying” I can’t resist – He’s the Jedi Master and I’m his padawan and he LOVES THAT!

  5. Jean

    I love Monkey. And his amazing behavior shows what a wonderful mom you are. Be proud :)

  6. Lylah

    I think you should have “Your best is AWESOME!” printed out and hung over your desk as a reminder. What a wonderful thing to hear from your child!

  7. Barbara

    You express love so well.

  8. Megan

    As my Male Child had a bit of a bomb shelter day yesterday this was lovely to read and remind myself that, despite the yesterdays, the todays are often pretty damn good.


  9. dad

    It should make you really proud that everything that you said but weren’t sure had been heard was merely squerriled away in a remote section of his brain, waiting for the right moment to come out and yearning to shower you with your own wisdom.
    On any trip, getting there has to be half the fun. Frolic in the ride.

    You always make Thursday my favorite day.

  10. Heather

    That kind of made me a little bit sniffly! I need a Monkey to come encourage me through University ;) That is too darn sweet!

  11. Aimee

    That is awesome.

  12. Sharon

    Well said! I’ll keep that in mind when my four year-old tells me I stink at Mario Kart.

  13. Sarah

    Oh, brother. You got me. I’m sitting here, crying.

    Thanks. I needed that this morning.

  14. Jess

    I find my nephews (5 & 7) doing the same thing when I play with them. I do believe that this game magically reveals their true selves. Of course, it could be that the true self of the 5 yr old is the dweeb in the bathtub screaming that he won’t come out until he dies.

  15. Debbi

    wow…beautiful. :-) My son does the same thing, hearing the encouraging words from him makes me feel like I am raising him properly and so happy that he hears what I say to him all of the time! It is so wonderful.

    Now, him playing with his father is a completely different story, the competitiveness is horrible. I feel like I have two kids ;-)

  16. Andrea

    Oh…I love that kid! And isn’t it great to hear all of your wonderful mothering mantras come back to you, aka he really does hear what you say???! So. cool.
    So, my soon to be 9 yr old son wants MarioKart for his birthday. I am going to go look online for it right now.

    PS TOTALLY unrelated but I saw the Target brand Goldfish crackers the other day and they are called Chickadees!! Thought of you (but not in a stalker-ish kind of way)!

  17. jennielynn

    Dang it, I just put on my mascara and here I am, bunging it up by crying. Hell.

  18. MomCat

    The “Rainbow Road” track is straight out of one of my nightmares. I can’t even watch my daughter play it. Off the sideless track and falling endlessly as a burning comet? Aaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggghhhhh!!

  19. Amanda

    I am so glad I got a Wii for our family. My son loves the video games that you can sit for, but he loves the action ones even more. Mario Kart was the first game we got for ours and we all LOVE it.

    I feel like you though. Not really good at the game. But love the time you get with your Monkey. I love my monkey so much and he loves mom time, especially if the Wii is involved.

    Thanks for sharing Mir

  20. Corey

    Oh, that made me teary.

  21. Libby

    That was so lovely. Interestingly, I used to dislike video games. They really seemed like a waste of time to me. However, ever since we got Rock Band (and I have heard similar stories to yours regarding the Wii) I think I’ve changed my mind. It’s really awesome to see my six year old sing her heart out and put on a show while my husband plays the drums and I play the guitar. We encourage each other when we suck and it’s a rather nice bonding experience. Now we only need to wait for our 3 month old baby to learn to talk so she can be the back up singer. Then our band will be complete! haha

    Anyway, lovely post. Glad Monkey has been listening. Now between you and your dad I should seriously consider doing my eye make up AFTER I read your blog on Thursdays. Weepy, weepy, weepy!

  22. elizabeth

    My husband is a grown up Monkey. While he can be tedious, I am blessed by his cheer every day. AND I saw that mariocart is excellent preparation for laparoscopic surgery. Not that you want to pay for med school, but I’m just saying.

  23. Katie in MA

    I think maybe you were off just a little bit when you suggested that Otto be the one who teaches Chickie how to drive. Clearly you need to smuggle Monkey into the car!

    Happy Love Thursday!

  24. wafelenbak

    Hee hee. That is so cute.
    I am pretty terrible at Mario Kart, forever falling off the road and coming in last. But I always play as Baby Princess Peach, and that makes it all okay. :)

  25. tj

    Happy Love Thursday indeed!

  26. kath

    Happy Love Thursday ….

  27. Randi

    I love Mario Kart. Honestly, if you want a game you’ll all love as much as Mario Kart, check out Boom Blox – seriously Mir, it is an amazing, “fun for the whole family” game.

  28. joe elliott

    soon i will be starting a family of my own and i love absorbing other people’s wisdom and experience. you wrote that you feel you say “no” a good deal. i can understand that. some of the things you spoke of made sense to me. for example, laundry all over the floor means someone isn’t sharing his/her part of the family’s household upkeep. and that is unfair AND leads to a chaotic household. got it. but some of the others had me wondering, and i imagine context might have something to do with it. i wondered why humming at the table is bad. is it too loud? do you want monkey to participate in whatever conversation is happening? and what about the “jiggling”? is it rocking a table such that the other person cannot draw or write? what kind of “banging”, if any, is ok in your house? why cannot bikes be ridden in the rain? (i imagine location would make a difference.) in other words, obviously what works in one household may not in another, but i love hearing people’s rationale for their decisions. all these “data points” are so very helpful.

    your post interested me because there are alot of things that annoy the crap out of me. people who breathe too loudly, for instance, drive me CRAZY. but i am trying to identify when i am saying “stop” or “no” to something because it aggravates ME vs when a yes or a no simply makes good sense when you live with someone other than just yourself. do you feel you make those kinds of distinctions in your interactions with Otto and kids? do you have a general philosophy that guides you when saying yes or no to the kinds of things you referred to in your post?


  29. ChristieNY

    Love that Monkey! Great growing him, Mama! ;)

  30. Lisa

    What a great kid – and what a great family, for making him that way. I love the fact that he’s absorbed the positive things you say to him, and forgives the “no’s.” We should all have an attitude like that.

  31. Lauren

    Reminds me of when my seven-year-old told my four-year-old, “Believe in Yourself!!” So earnest, so adorable.

  32. karen

    Amen :-)

  33. carrie

    Lovely, as always. Such a nice boy.

    And I’m sure I’ve mentioned the wee crush I have on your dad.

  34. Tracy

    Monkey taught me something today….MY BEST (really) IS AWESOME! I am going to print a banner and hang it in my office (to remind everyone else that reads it) =o)
    Happy Love Thursday!

  35. Samantha

    Your Love Thursday posts, along with Grey’s Anatomy and The Office, make Thursday my favorite day of the week :-) Great writing!

  36. Lady M

    Love, love that story. Isn’t it cool when you find out that someone was listening all along?!

    Did you get my email about the T-Mobile card? Let me know if that will work for you and I will send it!

  37. mama speak


  38. Brigitte

    Aw, too scrumptious! The 2nd blogger who has already made me verklempt today, and it’s only 5:36 am. Good thing this 90% is so cool, to help overshadow that dreaded 10%!

  39. Heather

    I just bought the Wii as a house warming gift for my son and I. We are having fun with it – although we don’t have many games. Mario Kart is at the top of our list, along with Guitar hero or Rock band. Have fun, and win more by placing last!

  40. Sheila

    That’s it. I’m getting Mario Kart today. And the Wii that has been sitting in my closet since January, waiting for next Christmas, is becoming an Easter gift. Can Monkey come over and tell us all we’re AWESOME?

  41. Maddie

    I can so relate to the start of the story about having to tell your son NO all the time. I feel like I am doing that 24/7… However thanks to the wii that has been a bonding time we we just all get along…
    Love your story. you sound like a great mom. It is great that you drop everything to play with your son. That will mean the world to him years from now.

  42. Tammi

    If you really want to feel like you stink at the game hook it online and play Mario Kart with people around the world (kind of cool to see where people are from when they pop up and it tells you where they are from) I feel like a winner when I don’t come in last!! lol

  43. Patrick

    This is an interesting blog!

  44. Lisa B

    Are you happy now? I am sitting her at my computer bawling my eyes out! I am actually snuffling, trying to stop crying! All the while I have this HUGE stupid grin on my face. THANK YOU! Happy Love Wonderful Magical Mir! (and Monkey too!)

  45. Cele

    My mom always say see will be able to tell what sort of job she did as a parent by the kids I raise. Your parents must have been awesome in their job because your kids are way cool.

  46. Lori in MN

    When my 10-yr-old found out I had never been Wii bowling, he convinced me we had time to try it one day before a dentist appointment. And, as if by magic, I went from being the “meanest mom in the world” to deserving of hugs and worthy of high-fives after my first strike. Love Thursdays – no matter what the topic, you always seem to hit close to home or give some new perspective to us!

  47. ImpostorMom

    That’s awesome. He’s such a sweet kid. We play a good bit of Mario Kart around our house and I’m a little embarrassed that the 2 year old has his favorite courses to watch. Me thinks he might watch it a little too much.

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