February 17

The Safety of a Guide

February 17, 2016

Personal Growth

Recently I visited my grandchildren in Phoenix. One of them, Jack, had just turned eight, and he invited me to play a video game with him, a game where the heavily armed characters—him and me—fought valiantly to save mankind from the evil alien horde.

Jack handed me a controller and started the game.
Grandfather and grandson are playing video games at home.
“What do I do with this?” I asked.

He looked at me like I’d fallen off the turnip truck onto my head—not the first to give me that look—and said, “Follow me and kill the bad guys.”

I needed more help than that, so he had to show me a few more things before I could even begin to play. He showed me how to turn my head, walk, jump, shoot various weapons, and more. Sometimes he’d shout, “Watch out for that ledge” just as I’d fall off the edge to my death. Other times he’d come back from his lead position—sometimes far in the lead—and help me catch up to him.

At one point I shouted, “Got ‘im! I killed him,” referring to one of the evil invaders.

Jack looked over at me, rolled his eyes, and said, “Grandpa, I killed a thousand before you got that one.”


Although I got a little more proficient in the next hour, this eight-year-old outplayed me badly. But he helped me, again and again. Repeatedly he showed me a better path, handed me a better weapon, and told me how to avoid destruction. He was my guide—patient and cheerful—and when I followed him my performance improved.

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