Improvising Answers – Let the Potties Hit the Floor

You asked them questions, they gave you answers. Enjoy this episode of Improvising Answers titled, Let the Potties Hit the Floor.

Thank you for all the wonderful questions you submitted. We hope you enjoy our answers. Leave more questions in the comments and we will answer them next time.

Play vs Competition

I play to win. But I do so with the understanding that playing the game is more important than winning the game.

From the vault: This article was originally posted in February of 2015.

I had a talk yesterday with my 5yo about the difference between Play and Competition. I grew up in a very sports-oriented competitive family. I’m pretty sure besmirching the good name of Competition is going to upset some of my family (my sister), but that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Now some of this is going to be semantics, so let’s not get overly concerned about our precious words. By Play I simply mean engaging in a game or activity for fun. By Competition I mean engaging in a game for the sole purpose of winning. You can Play to win. And you can have fun in competing. But for the sake of this article, Competition will designate when the playfulness has been removed from the game. 

I’ve been watching my boys play a lot lately and I’ve been seeing the contrast between Play and Competition. My 2yo just plays. There’s very little competition in his play. The 5yo competes. Sometimes he is more playful, but often if he is not winning, he doesn’t see value in the game.

For example, if we are all playing Ninja Turtles (which is always), the boys are often play fighting against me and the boys get to win. And if the 5yo goes up against the 2yo, the 2yo will allow the 5yo to win because the 2yo is playing. But if for some reason we try to make it so that the 5yo loses, he gets angry because, while we were playing, he was competing.

The same thing will happen if we are playing soccer. There are times when I let my 5yo win and he really enjoys the game. But then there are times when I decide he needs to be challenged and I win. This can often result in anger and tears. This is because he wasn’t playing. He was competing.*

The way I see it, Play doesn’t mean you aren’t competitive. I grew up playing sports and had a poster on my wall (shown above) of a kid in Baseball gear and the poster said, “I play to win.” I stared at those words every night as I fell asleep. And I still have that attitude. In fact, I still have that poster. But it’s “I PLAY to win.” Not “I COMPETE.” I think this is something I truly learned when I became an improviser and learned to be more playful. 

So now when I play a game, whether it’s a sport, or a board game, or anything at all, I play my hardest. Nobody wants an opponent who isn’t trying. I play to win. But I do so with the understanding that playing the game is more important than winning the game. Because as soon as the joy of game is lost, you’re no longer playing. You’re just competing.

*I should note that my 5yo isn’t as bad of a sport as this article makes him seem. These are the extreme cases, but often he does a very good job of being a good sport.

UPDATE: My kids are 9 and 6 now. The 9yo is still UBER competitive but is learning how to handle the frustrations of losing. There are times when he will play with his little brother in a way where little brother gets to “win”. Other times, his competitive streak kicks in and there’s no stopping him. The 6yo is gaining an interest in competitive sports but still sort of backs away from direct competition. Every day I try to make “play” the focus in our activities.

Sunday Funday!

Every month I co-produce and perform in a family friendly improv comedy show at the Curious Comedy Theater (Portland, OR) called Sunday Funday. Kids of all ages are given lots of opportunities to jump onstage and play in improv games with our cast of stellar improvisers.

Every month I co-produce and perform in a family friendly improv comedy show at the Curious Comedy Theater (Portland, OR) called Sunday Funday. Kids of all ages are given lots of opportunities to jump onstage and play in improv games with our cast of stellar improvisers.

I love this show so much because it is such an expression of joy. The kids love to see adults playing make believe and taking their suggestions and using them in the comedy scenes we create on the spot. It shows the kids that their ideas have real value. Improv shows children how saying yes to each other’s ideas can be a powerful way to create something positive and amazing.

To top it all off, this isn’t one of those kids shows where the parents are left out because all the humor is just for kids. Improv has the unique ability to adapt to the entire audience’s needs and not just cater to one subset of the audience.

Also, before the show we teach a family improv workshop called Yes And Family. The purpose of the workshop is to teach kids and parents alike the basic skills of improvisation, which can help them get onstage and perform, but just as importantly can improve communication and relationships within the family.

For more information about this show click one of the following links:

Sunday Funday Facebook Event

Sunday Funday Info on CuriousComedy.org

Yes And Family workshop info on CuriousComedy.org

What the Oscars Can Teach Us About Parenting

1. The best way to start the day is with a song and dance number. Monologue jokes can be hit and miss but a medley of your kids’ favorite songs will never go wrong.

2. Keep your speeches short.

3. There are a lot of categories to be won. So what if your kid can’t make the best picture. Let them know how much you love their crazy sound effects or how animated they are.

4. Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive.

5. Focus more on their achievements than on what they’re wearing.

6. Teach your kids to applaud the success of others.

7. Teach your kids how to applaud.

Samurai Patriarchy

From the Vault: This was originally posted to the old IF site on January 4, 2016.

I was reading a book about samurai to my 6-year-old. The book explained that women were trained in sword fighting, not to go to war, but to protect the home.

6-year-old: Oh come on, why couldn’t women go to war?

Me: It’s called the patriarchy.

6-year-old: (pause) Whatever that is, I hate it.

Parker’s Projects: Perler Beads

Parker is always building, creating, and inventing something. One of his favorite gifts for Christmas was just a bag of assorted craft supplies from the Dollar Store.

Last night he was working with Perler Beads. He was in his room for an hour, headphones on listening to an audio book, as he made an assortment of Pokémon designs.

I really hope his creative and crafty spirit never dies.

If you want Parker to make you something, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.