Sunday, February 09, 2014

I hate Musical Chairs

I hate Musical Chairs.
I said it.
Is that sacrilege in parental and teacher circles?
I hated playing this game as a kid, and now, as an adult, I hate watching kids play it.
Here's what I don't get. We, as parents, are consistently striving to teach our children qualities like sharing, caring, and giving. We teach them to let others go first and not to fight. And then, we line a bunch of chairs up, we remove one, we play upbeat music, and we tell them to make sure they get one. And if they don't get one, then they don't get to play anymore.
Does anyone else see any issues with this?
Don't get me wrong. I am totally not a fan of the "everyone wins" mentality. I think there should be winners and losers. I think awards should be given and success should be called out. I don't think every kid should get a trophy every time.
(I'm an athlete! We like to compete and win, and subsequently, we like other people to lose.)
So this game of Musical Chairs . . . I can see playing it with adults who can ascertain the difference between a game and real life. I must admit it is quite amusing to watch grown men stumble over their beer bellies and push women out of the way to win. 
But kids? Small kids? Really?
I always hated playing this game as a child. I remember watching as a person's face turned red when they were singled out as a loser and told to sit by themselves while the rest of the kids got to continue playing.
I always worried that my face was turning red when I didn't get a chair.
But then I watched my five-year-old boys play this American Rite of Passage the other night at a group event, and I decided that I really didn't like it.
Sidge was the first one out, and ironically, Isaac was the winner. So it wasn't like I had any issues with the fact that "my kid did not win." 
I'm busy trying to teach them to hold open the door for other people, and not to pass each other on the stairs, and to let Abigail go first because she is a lady, and to share and care, and then I tell them to fight to the death over a chair to make sure they are a winner.
Don't get me a wrong. I am not going to complain to someone that this game was played. If we attend a birthday party, and this game is on the schedule, I will let my kids participate.
But I just wanted to take a moment to think about what we are instilling in our kids through the books we read and movies we watch and games we play.
Food for thought.


Anonymous said...

you have such good insights! Rana

Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration as a parent, but wonder why you single out this game in particular? Most children's games include victors and loser, whether played by 3 year-olds or 12 year-olds. I'm recalling tag, dodgeball, hide-and-seek, and others. At what age do you think kids are prepared to handle the concepts presented by musical chairs and others?
I agree that these games can be played in a way that is neither glorifying to God nor constructive of quality character, but perhaps as parents it is up to us to train up our children so that they are prepared to play these games in ways that accomplish the ultimate goals we have as parents.
By God's grace, my boys will be willing to give up their chair for another, whether it is at a birthday party game, or at the restaurant; they will step aside to allow a lady to pass, whether they're six or sixteen.
One of the challenges we face as parents is knowing when to remove our kids for situations that aren't good for them, and when to teach them to operate in those situations. It's different for each kid, and it's a moving target as they age!
Praying for you and John tonight as you navigate these stormy parenting seas!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

It is strictly musical chairs I don't like! I get the idea and don't have any reason to stop my kids from playing but just do not like the way it makes kids feel embarrassed ....

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

To anonymous ... None of the games you point out are designed to have people fight over something with one person not getting it and being embarrassed ... But that's just my opinion.

Debbie said...

I could not agree with you more Wendi. Right down to the last letter. Never liked musical chairs as a kid and still don't now.