Friday, January 31, 2014

My kid is into gamification.

"Maybe we can use these for training."
Huh? I'm unloading the dishwasher and have no idea what Jules is talking about. When I swing around to face him, I see that he's waving a plastic tube of mini M&Ms branded with a Valentine's Day theme. They arrived the other day—in a big brown box, along with chocolate mustaches, superhero shirts and various marginally healthy snacks, all from Aunt Kate. The most thoughtful aunt/sister/friend ever. (Seriously. It's sort of insane.)

"What do you mean, Jules?"

To me, training means preparing to run a 1/2 marathon or, after a long meeting yesterday, using an iPad to teach salespeople about a product. I don't think he means either of these things. Maybe he means potty training? Right or wrong, we used to reward BMs with M&Ms, I'll admit it. But there's no one here to train. Except perhaps the cat (is it Olive or Tina?) who periodically shits on the floor seemingly out of spite

"I mean you do an exercise and you get a candy. And then you get up to Level 10 and then Level 13. You can skip around."

My first thought: What a gamified world we live in. This kid is five. My second: Shit. Has he heard me say something mildly disordered about eating—like I don't get to have dessert, or wine, if I don't run? I try hard not to stay stuff like that. Did it slip?

Turns out, I did not. Or if I did, it doesn't seem to have made a big impression, because when I probe further about the origin of his idea, asking "did you play a game like this in gym class?" he tells me this:

"No, it's just my idea. I made it up after I saw the seals getting food for doing special tricks."
[Note: His kindergarten class is in the middle of a Sea Creatures unit.] "So I thought we could do gymnastics and get these M&Ms. Use them for training. Is that a good idea?"

Sure, dude. I'm always up for a handstand contest. Game on.

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