The Quest for Perfection
“I’m scared!” my five-year-old daughter, Gwen, exclaims finding refuge
behind her mother.
She looks like she’s undertaking a tornado drill or attempting to
survive a bear attack: She is in a prone position, leaning forward,
her face planted in her knees and her hands and arms draped over her
What would terrify a child so?
Perhaps a horror movie with an ax-wielding maniac? Or a big, mean, growling,drooling dog? Perhaps a dragon, ghoulie ghoul, vampire or werewolf? Maybe daddy’s hitting the bottle again?
As frightening as all that sounds, it is not the reason my daughter is
pale and nervous like the kid on Sixth Sense.
No, not the idealized standard that I will later hold her accountable to.
The game. Perfection.
First, what sort of message are we sending our children with a game named “Perfection?” It’s an unfair expectation especially for a
five-year-old kid. It should be called “Pretty Close” or “Good
Enough.” Afterall, we’re only attempting “good enough.”
Perfection is a relatively popular game, I think. I had it as a kid. I remember in my house growing up a hall closet called the “game closet” –
by far, the best closet in the house considering I didn’t have
Webster’s awesome two-story flat with all the creepy secret doors
and tunnels. You opened it up, flipped the light switch and the
colors of all the stacked, rectangular flat boxes light up my eyes.
The reds, greens, yellows and blues of Monopoly, Simon Says, Life,
Sorry!, Clue, Risk, Connect 4, Battleship, Barrel of Monkeys, Chinese
checkers and a seemingly endless amount of game goodness are a
rainbow only the Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley would be proud
Perfection is a rectangular plastic box with a grid of 25 holes on a pop-up
tray. You set the timer for 60 seconds, the time in which you have to
put corresponding yellow shapes into the correct space in the grid.
The points of contention and why this game sends my child into an
epileptic fit are:
- Once you press “start” the timer begins to count down. It is not silent. It is a surprisingly loud ticking. Imagine the sound of a time bomb as the protagonist is forced to cut either the blue or green wire. The sweat accumulates on the brow, palms get clammy, you start to fumble around with the pieces. Next thing you know …
- At the end of those 60 incredibly short seconds, the pop-up tray pops up with a loud crash as all the pieces successfully placed into the right hole jump out and up all over the place.
I’d consider the terror as a sign that my kid’s a wimp if it didn’t
bother my wife and I. We, too, are slightly terrified and once we
realize we aren’t going to place all 25 pieces successfully, we’d
rather leave the room.
We know it’s coming. The kid knows it’s coming. Yet, we jump and our
heart skips a little like a beat-up Pinto with water in the gas tank.
Perfection is, quite frankly, a little too terrifying, too intense for a dumb
game. Too serious for the game closet.