January 26, 2012

Superman's A Baby, But He's Still Superman

its pretty so you never leave.jpg
it's so pretty

So this is how you miss the signs.  Pay attention, it's a kind of charade.

The boy is at a kid's birthday party and the kids are 7, and they're bowling because nothing suits 7 year olds better than perfect spheres made of depleted uranium and 45 minutes of waiting your turn.

A girl wearing a tiara bowls a 71.  Superman-shirt bowls a 76.  A future parole violator quits after two gutter balls because this game sucks, an odd assessment since it's his party.  His mom is showing another mom texts from a man who is not his dad.  The boy bowls a 101.  Granted, he double underhanded it the whole time, but so what.

Princess says to the boy, "You won!" The boy tries to suppress a hesitant, humble smile beaming with incredulous pride. Princess gives him a hug and he almost cries.

Superman says, "No you didn't."

"Yes he did," says Princess.

"Yes I did," says the boy.

"No you didn't," says Superman. "You got the highest score, but you didn't win."

I'm not familiar with sports, let alone bowling, so I don't really understand the scoring.  Is bowling scored like blackjack, where you can have more points but still lose?  Or is bowling pretty much like football, where more points= the other team's cheerleaders?  Which would mean either Superman is running a short con or he got into his parents' mushrooms.

The boy says some words, but what he says is irrelevant because the boy's parents are less like parents and more like Idiots and Idiocy can overwhelm everything but death, and death can overwhelm everything else but denial.  The boy's parents are proud of the boy, they want him to feel good, so they jump in: you did win! you are the winner!  They are patting him on the back for his win, sure, they may suspect it was a fluke (so he crossed the line a little) but self-esteem is what's important here, right, at this age, right? This is a big deal for the boy, he won, f-i-s, come on, let him have his moment.  Have some more cake!  Have another juice box!  Hey, everyone, come give the boy a high-five!  Don't pay any attention to Superman, he's just a Greenie Meaneenie Jealous Butt Crybeanie, he doesn't like it when anyone's satisfied.

Yeah, but Superman is telling the Idiots something important.  He is telling them that based on his prior history with the boy, based on what he knows of the boy, telling him he didn't win might actually work.  He wouldn't have tried this on the Princess, or his parents, or some stranger with a beer gut and an ankle monitor-- no, he tried this on the boy because he had a feeling he would fall for it.

Which means that the correct lesson the boy's parents could have taught him was what is it about Superman that makes him act that way?  Or more importantly, what is it that the boy does to make Superman think he can manipulate him?  But the one they went with, the one that will make him neurotic for the rest of his life, is that he's a winner.

But he might not be.  Not if Superman has anything to say about it.









Comments

Thanks for using an example... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 11:55 AM | Posted by Guy Fox: | Reply

Thanks for using an example with an objective, countable means to measure success, like bowling. If you had used something like "he won the debate by virtue of the better argument" or "he won Salvation by choosing the True path", I probably would've got vertigo and traded my parachute for (another) bottle. Cheers.

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How did the idiot parents f... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:02 PM | Posted by Jim: | Reply

How did the idiot parents fail to teach the boy the larger lesson? Kids learn from what they perceive and have little use for verbal explanations. Two contrasting views of winning were presented, and the adults dismissed the stupid one being championed by superman.

The only truly idiotic thing to do would have been to pursue an "Everyone's a winner because we're pansies and can't allow anyone to be a loser" explanation.

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Yeah, but Superman... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:27 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Yeah, but Superman is telling the Idiots something important. He is telling them that based on his prior history with the boy, based on what he knows of the boy, telling him he didn't win might actually work. He wouldn't have tried this on the Princess, or his parents, or some stranger with a beer gut and an ankle monitor-- no, he tried this on the boy because he had a feeling he would fall for it.

I'm confused, did he really win or not? I'm not familiar with bowling scores and rules either, but if he didn't really win that totally changes the nature of the interaction and the implications of it, so I'm surprised you didn't research and verify whether he truly won or lost before drawing conclusions and writing an article about it.

Also, I think it's way too short an observation with a big lack of information. How do we know for a fact he wouldn't have called out the Princess or his parents or the stranger with a beer guy and an ankle monitor? I mean you may be right that he wouldn't have tried it on them, but you could also be wrong and he could be one of those budding sociopaths with no impulse control or fear of consequences that will try anything on anybody.

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Yes, the highest score wins... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:37 PM | Posted by Lynn: | Reply

Yes, the highest score wins in bowling.

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<a href="http://thirdtierre... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:46 PM | Posted by Nando: | Reply

http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/

The boy in the Superman shirt is akin to "law professors" who knowingly misinform prospective law students. Examples abound:

"Don't worry if you can't find a legal job. The degree is versatile."

"One can do anything with a law degree!" (Such as collect Food Stamps?)

At least, the kid is less culpable. He has been indoctrinated nd conditioned by parents, teachers, friends and family to believe that he always wins. The "law professors," on the other hand, are liars preying on the hopes of young people.

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nando, I suggest you put mo... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Nando's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

nando, I suggest you put more links to your website in your posts. Don't just have the link as a header, put it randomly in the body of your posts too, then put one at the end for good measure.

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The rules don't matter. Win... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 12:58 PM | Posted by Ubermensch: | Reply

The rules don't matter. Winning means nothing. But to the boy it means everything. Winning means narcissistic supply, and losing means narcissistic injury. Thanks to his parents, the boy has a life of #winning to look forward to.

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Nando is not the winner... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 1:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Nando is not the winner

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Handicapping aside, 300 is ... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 1:25 PM | Posted by Dick Weber: | Reply

Handicapping aside, 300 is the "perfect," maximum bowling score. Do I win?

About the boy. He might have learned a lot, if he didn't know it already, about his parents at the Big 0-Seven.

Two assumptions:
1. The boy knew he cheated by two-hand rolling, and fouling the scratch line.
2. He knows the parents saw him do both.

He now knows his parents will overlook cheating to show the boy their support. That'll come in handy when he's caught with a pocketful of coke, or when he's ratted out for hiring someone to take his S.A.T. for him.

He also knows his parents can't be trusted when they tell him he, or something he does, is good. He knows he cheated. He knows they know he cheated. They diminish themselves in his eyes by lying about his "accomplishment." Too bad. They're just his parents. And by lying to him, they give him license to do the same.

And in ten years, they'll wonder which TV show, movie, or World of Warcraft version led him into the darkness.


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I don't know much about psy... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 1:56 PM | Posted by Pa: | Reply

I don't know much about psychology, but since you called the one boy superman, i can't stop seeing this as an analogy for id, ego, and superego.

Superman is supposed to be the standin for the parent, the perfectionist who wants the child to do it the right way. Instead, this boys parents cater to his Id, his desire for gratification, therefore setting him up for a lifetime of unresolved emotional issues.

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Princess is the id. Superma... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 2:10 PM | Posted by Avi: | Reply

Princess is the id. Superman is the super-ego. Don't know enough about psychology to say much more, but children struggle to reconcile with reality with both presences, which are actually within himself. The parents should support the growth of his super-ego to enable his ability to mediate a healthy existence and acceptance of reality. But being primarily Id driven themselves, they lack the ability to provide this guidance to the child.

In this situation, the kid is a metaphor for a child/person but also the ego itself.

I'm hesitant to interpret stories this way, but with a sentence like, "Pay attention, it's kind of a charade," I feel the author is almost bludgeoning the reader.

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...the correct lesson th... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 2:10 PM | Posted by Somebody: | Reply

...the correct lesson the boy's parents could have taught him was what it is the boy does to make Superman think he can manipulate him, or even what it is about Superman that makes him act that way;

You can't teach what you don't know.

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The boy (or any boy for tha... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 3:00 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The boy (or any boy for that matter) never wins all the time. But Superman seems to know that this particular boy needs to feel like he wins all the time, whether he wins or not. Superman is exposing to the Idiots, were they aware enough to notice, that even though he's only 7, he can see how their parenting effects the boys character. He's always been told he's a winner at everything he does, so when he actually does win something, he questions whether he really did win it or not. It shows how teaching kids to deal with winning only (giving everyone a trophy) cultivates insecurity.

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I've bowled, or done bowlin... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 3:32 PM | Posted by Iris: | Reply

I've bowled, or done bowling or whatever. Anyway, the one with the most points wins. I think.

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I don't think it's correct ... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 4:31 PM | Posted by Phil A: | Reply

I don't think it's correct to see "Superman" as the super-ego. Alone specifically indicates that Superman is "manipulating" the boy, which isn't (as far as I understand it) what the super-ego does.

I think the story is more straightforward than symobolic. Alone is trying to show, to put it simply, how narcissistic parents raise narcissistic kids by being bad parents. In other words, they had an opportunity to teach the kid an actual lesson that might have led to a smart, more socially adjusted adult, but instead were just worried about his self-esteem and missed the boat.

Perhaps more can be read into it than that, but what else needs to be read into it that would actually be meaningful?

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aren't the idiots the id???... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 4:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

aren't the idiots the id???? lol

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Superman shirt is Jedi mind... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:03 PM | Posted by CC: | Reply

Superman shirt is Jedi mind f-ing the kid. The kid is weak. He almost cries because princess hugs him? After he fluke wins a stupid game at a stupid party where even the guest of honor thinks the game sucks? Really? Big whoop. Get real. Get some perspective kid. Who cares if you won this crap game? What diff? If winning the game is meaningless, which it was, AND the kid realized it or kept that in mind or understood it, he could have said, 'Shut up superman, I know the game is worthless, but my score was still the highest and so I won the stupid game so shut up.' But he doesn't have that. He's like too attached to the winning and the losing of the game, to the score. He doesn't have enough context or something.

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I was "the boy". S... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:07 PM | Posted by TheCoconutChef: | Reply

I was "the boy".

Superman: These are the rule, you got to do as they say, which happen to be what I say.

Me: Ok.

Later

Me: Now the rule are in my favor.

Superman: Fuck the rules and fuck you.

Me: Superman sure is not playing by the rule (in which I still believe). I sure hope somebody enforces them.

No one enforce shit.

The end.

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"aren't the idiots the id??... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"aren't the idiots the id???? lol"
Haha
No.

Gutter Ball kid is the Id.
Princess is the Ego.


Imo.

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The real question is why ar... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:17 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The real question is why are they bowling on the kids birthday if he doesn't like it? The parents are too immersed in validating the false self to notice the true kid. The kid is not a winner - no-one ever is. It is something you do, not what you are.

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This article reminded me mo... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:19 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This article reminded me more of the ass-kicking one:

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/09/when_was_the_last_time_you_got.html

The 17 yeear old knew he could pick on Louis with the same knowing that Louis's date knew he wouldn't fight back. Here, Superman knows his taunting wouldn't work on anyone else because no one else would buy it. I'll even go as far as saying that if the kids were playing golf with no knowledge of scoring (lowest strokes wins), anyone else would still believe the highest score won (confusing example, I know). The kids reaction is a big tell here.

Princess says to the boy, "You won!" The boy tries to suppress a hesitant, humble smile beaming with incredulous pride. Princess gives him a hug and he almost cries.

He doesn't respond to the actually winning but that he was told he won. Think of that next a kid tries to argue reality with you "Nuh uh, the sun is blue!!!"

TL;DR Kid got no identity, needs backbone

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What would the narrative be... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:53 PM | Posted by Felan: | Reply

What would the narrative be like if the parents had taught the correct lesson of understanding that Superdick was just being a dick, because being a dick worked on the kid?

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what it is the boy does... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:54 PM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

what it is the boy does to make Superman think he can manipulate him

I admit I nearly missed the point. At first I thought it was about the boy cheating his way to a win. But this is so much more scary and as a parent it gives me much to think about.

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I wanted to comment on the ... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 5:55 PM | Posted by Caroline: | Reply

I wanted to comment on the question 'what was it that made Superman think that he can manipulate the boy?'

The answer can't be just that, the Superman knew the boy had cheated, because then it would not be manipulation, it would just be pointing out a simple fact. I think it is, that the boy knew it too - that he had bent the rules. So when is someone vulnerable to manipulation? It's when they're not sure of themselves - so if the boy was not sure what he did was ethical (and it was in a gray area) when someone pointed it out, although in an exaggerated way (you got the most points but did not win does not mean anything if you have a clear conscience or if you are OK with being a cheater).

So, yeah, an adult thing to do would be to acknowledge the existence of a gray area, validate the boy's concerns whether he had done the right thing - make them real by expressing them and not sweeping them under the carpet. That would have actually made the boy think, grow maybe, instead of just feeling, hey, if many people say I won, I won. And I will hide the second thoughts where nobody can see them.

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my question is: why is the ... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 6:45 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

my question is: why is the manipulator clad in the threads of superman? it obviously wasnt chosen abritrarily...

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I like how everyone still f... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 11:29 PM | Posted by vandal: | Reply

I like how everyone still focuses so much on the kid. The kid needs backbone. Kid needs identity. Kid will grow up fucked up because of this moment.

The kid is a fucking kid. You show me a kid with any real identity and I'll show you a reject from the Children of the Corn 2.

Have you guys been around children? Near sociopaths for the most part. They have little internal morality whether for good or bad (as in if you tell the child to always come straight home he probably will, which could be the morally good thing, unless there's another child lying on the ground crying and they still just go home instead of getting help).

Now rather then talk about what the parents should and shouldn't have done I want to wonder why they did what they did.

"They are patting him on the back for his win, sure, they may suspect it was a fluke (so he crossed the line a little) but self-esteem is what's important here, right, at this age, right? This is a big deal for the boy, he won, f-i-s, come on, let him have his moment. Have some more cake! Have another juice box! Hey, everyone, come give the boy a high-five! Don't pay any attention to Superman, he's just a Greenie Meaneenie Jealous Butt Crybeanie, he doesn't like it when anyone's satisfied."

Why? Why is that their go to?

I mean, what other go tos are there? You see your son getting pseudo-manipulated and what do you do right? You....what? Punch the superboy? Call his parents? Teach your son better manipulation skills? Go into detail explanations of narcissism and what?

No. Think natural. It's not completely narcissistic to tell the boy to ignore superboy because he's lying and give him some coins to the arcade as a prize. Have another beer. Realize some kids are just psychos. Probably try to keep your child away from the psychos until he learns to tell reality a bit better.

To treat it like a bigger deal though would be narcissistic. If this moment is what you figure "BUILD MY CHILDS SELF ESTEEM" or "MAKE MY CHILD AWARE OF THE EVIL MANIPULATORS THAT RUN LIFE!" more than "kids are sometimes dicks and boys are gullible" you're starting to see every moment in life as a huge turning point. Huge turning points in every little moment only happen in movies and you aren't the main character so stop that.

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The Boy is on the path to b... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 2:33 AM | Posted by T: | Reply

The Boy is on the path to become a Borderline, which will then turn into Narcissism when no one is around to give him his identity.

The Boy have a problem now, and it is not that he cheated or he have no back bones or that he's a little too emotional.

The problem the boy have is that he is susceptible to having his reality "injected" by someone else who have a stronger sense of reality than him, in this case, Superman. The only reason this didn't happen this time is that there are other people there, and many consensus on reality always trump one.

Imagine this kid grew up and that the problem is now permanent. He will forever be looking for people to tell him what reality is instead of perceiving/making up his own mind about what reality is.

What I believe TLP is trying to say is that the problem that the kid have now can be fix by the parents, but the parents' parenting style itself is what causes the boy to be the way he is right now.

The problem the boy have now may not be significant, but in 10 more years, it will be magnified. And by that point, he'll be society's problem. Except everyone will care more about themselves than the boy.

Then who's going to give The Boy his reality?

Quoting TLP: "Here's the ironic part: if a borderline was shipwrecked on a desert island with no one around, she'd develop a real identity, of her own, not a reaction to other people. Sorry, that's not the ironic part, this is: she'd become a narcissist"

See: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2007/01/borderline.html

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If I follow the general les... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 11:24 AM | Posted by JW: | Reply

If I follow the general lesson - if Green Lantern Boy says something to my kid that is absurd, I need to think carefully about why GLB said that to my son. Did he say it because he's a psycho? Did he say it because he doesn't understand the rules? Did he say it because he's a narcissist, and can't handle the idea of someone else beating him? Did he say it because he knows my kid is weak, and susceptible to that kind of manipulation. Did he say it because he doesn't like my kid and just wants him to feel bad? Did he say it because of some other reason I can't think of?

Clearly, my kid (in this scenario) is uncomfortable with being the "winner". Maybe it doesn't happen very often. Maybe he has an older brother who always wins, so he's not used to being the winner. Maybe he's just shy, and being in the spotlight is uncomfortable for him.

It seems to me that without knowing a lot of the details of GLB's psyche, the only real thing I could do that would be more constructive than just saying 'yes, my kid won' is putting them together and asking GLB why he says that my kid didn't win. Alas, GLB will almost certainly say 'because he didn't', and storm off, because he doesn't want to expose his methods.

In any case, thanks for the insight, I'll try to remember it next time.

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While I think the story can... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 11:54 AM | Posted, in reply to Phil A's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

While I think the story can be taken literally (parents just want the child to be happy, which is deluding and ultimately damaging) I think you are using the wrong psychoanalyst. This is Alone we're talking about, which means the we're in the world of Lacan. For Lacan, the Superego isn't "conscience" but a part of the Symbolic order that commands us, "Enjoy!"

The clues are the ages (7); the 3rd person narration disrupted briefly by a first person narrator, "I don't know how the scoring is done...;" and the order of the events.

The Boy "wins" but he doesn't enjoy it. Only after Superman tries to fool him do his parents vigorously celebrate him.

The Superego, as Superman, facilitates the boy's enjoyment. The Boy wins but feels nothing. Princess tells him he wins and he represses his smile. Only in response to the Superego do the parents encourage him to enjoy, eat cake, high five.

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I'm calling BS. You and ev... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 3:20 PM | Posted by BHE: | Reply

I'm calling BS. You and every commenter totally know the highest score wins in bowling. Who doesn't?

Is it that it's a blue-collar, beer-guts and rednecks kind of sport, and you think it diminishes your standing as an intellectual to admit that you know how the game works?

Because I don't see how that services your metaphor. Maybe someone can correct me.

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This entry was confusing, b... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 3:51 PM | Posted, in reply to BHE's comment, by Felan: | Reply

This entry was confusing, but ultimately the issue at hand (as I understand it) is that the Superman kid is essentially trying to bully the other less secure into thinking he didn't win. Rather than address the issue of how the kid could better handle the bullying, the parents just reinforce that he won. An ambiguous situation is resolved only by praise.

In other situations down the road the insecure kid won't have really gained anything from this other than that others saying he won means he won.

Perhaps the parents should have explained how the winner is determined and asked the insecure kid who won, which I suspect is about the best approach. Privately they could have tried to explain that the Superman kid was jealous and trying to make himself feel better by taking insecure kid's victory away from him. I'm guessing, I'd welcome better narratives or corrections.

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But then, like, what is Alo... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 4:53 PM | Posted by crumbskull: | Reply

But then, like, what is Alone doing hanging out at a bowling alley closely watching little kids? Bowling alley has Sunday rum specials or what?

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I agree with you 100%. Maki... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 4:56 PM | Posted, in reply to vandal's comment, by mental health: | Reply

I agree with you 100%. Making this a "learning" experience makes it about you when the situation is not right for that.
I think- blowing off supermans BS- models exactly what you said.
"kids are sometimes dicks and boys are gullible" You can explain gullible later.
You have common sense.

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Alone has mentioned having ... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted, in reply to crumbskull's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone has mentioned having a daughter and my impression of her age would quite possibly make her the Princess in this story.

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I actually lauged at your c... (Below threshold)

January 27, 2012 7:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I actually lauged at your comment.

Notice the tiara detail and the seek of reciprocity from the emo kid. She will grow to be a manipulator.

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Perhaps Alone could open a ... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 3:30 AM | Posted by MySouisaRoad: | Reply

Perhaps Alone could open a small window of clarifying clarity here, so that we may receive the parable without mudding the water..?

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Best as I can tell the less... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 4:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Best as I can tell the lesson to be learned for those reading at home (because remember, you're reading it because it's for you) is that you need to learn to keep people from causing you to doubt yourself.

I couldn't count the professors I had who tried to convince me of their way of life. It was one true path or bust to them, and I could never hold my own in a discussion, so I passionately avoided those people. Some day when my testicles drop I'll be able to look authoritative men in the eyes and hold my ground.

Maybe.

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And I thought parenting did... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 5:10 AM | Posted by Colin: | Reply

And I thought parenting didn't matter, statistically?

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That's how I saw it. Much s... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 5:11 AM | Posted, in reply to Felan's comment, by Colin: | Reply

That's how I saw it. Much simpler a point than normal TLP posts but still entertaining.

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I await the giant tie to na... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 5:14 AM | Posted by Miche: | Reply

I await the giant tie to narcissm later. Also, I think in practice you'd find a number of boys standing up for themselves there. In the middle of the conformity education, still wild. Can the other instinct really be taught in such situations? I hope so, for when I'm a parent, but I think this moment is less pivotal.

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"But he might not be. Not ... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 6:50 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"But he might not be. Not if Superman has anything to say about it."

loved this line at the end, and enjoyed your story

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i tried to read all the com... (Below threshold)

January 28, 2012 10:40 PM | Posted by darryl: | Reply

i tried to read all the comments and i'm sorry if i missed someone already saying this.

but, has anyone mentioned that the kid was bowling by himself? if we are interpreting the characters as the different elements of the boy's personality, then the most glaring oddity in this whole "charade" is that the boy is bowling by himself which makes Superman right, he got the highest score, but you can't win if you don't play against another real person. this boy is going to have issues because he is bowling by himself on his birthday which would indicate, he's got no friends. this predicament doesn't necessarily have to doom the kid to a life-long residency in Loserville if his parents are able to nurture a healthy balance for him. but they are obviously too preoccupied to give a shit about that. or don't have the tools themselves to give such guidance. so he's probably fucked. and the one aspect of his personality that is trying to keep him in reality is Superman. but the parents, who are controlled mainly by their ids ("idiots/idiocy") keep siding with the Princess. so he'll probably grow up thinking that he's a winner, unless Superman can convince him that he's actually a loser.

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I've read this post a dozen... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2012 8:07 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I've read this post a dozen times and I still have no idea what was going on, who was doing what to whom or what lesson I'm supposed to take away from it all. Maybe I'm a moron, but this could have been explained better.

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You shouldn't read posts li... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2012 11:03 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Factorizer: | Reply

You shouldn't read posts like this a dozen times. Trust me: life is too short for that.

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would love it if you... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2012 12:19 PM | Posted by kumara: | Reply


would love it if you commented on this story:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/everything-seemed-normal/story-e6frea8c-1226132660689

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Hmm... I'd hazard a guess t... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2012 8:18 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hmm... I'd hazard a guess that the boy is failing by letting the entirety of the world and how other people percieve him define his reality. Superman tries to substitute his interpretation of what winning means for the boy's, so does the girl, but with the opposite conclusion. The birthday boy says 'fuck the rules' so goes on to be antisocial PD et cetera. The parents emphasise their own interpretations instead of eliciting his and in the end...

Everyone says winning is important.

Did you have fun? Was it a good birthday party? Was it worth your time? Do you like bowling? Is that girl pretty? Is he your friend?

Screw those questions, who WON? There's the problem to focus on. Whoops.

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Yeah I too saw the emphasis... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2012 2:45 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Yeah I too saw the emphasis on winning itself as the problem. The boy who wins gets the hug from the girl, the extra piece of cake, love and adoration, appreciation.

If he hadn't won, he wouldn't have deserved those things. He would deserve to get treated like superman: irrelevant.

The question is, does being a good human being and deserving cake, hugs, social acceptance and appreciation rest soley on being the winner at bowling?

Superman is making a point, not because he cares what the scoring system is, but he is angry that Winner gets the girl, the cake, the social appreciation. A whole bunch of kids are there at the party to have fun and enjoy each others company and the idea that none of those kids deserves love and acceptance because-- they didn't win-- is the problem.

In this case the Winner gets reaffirmed that he really did win. Whew. So he deserves the girl, the cake, the praise.

In the future what happens if he really loses? What does it mean to try your best and lose? He's a nobody? At some point in his life, Winner will lose at something. Superman will be happy because Superman can take that opportunity to say "See, now you're a piece of shit like me"

Superman will still be wrong. Neither of them is a piece of shit, it's a birthday all the kids should have a piece of cake get to flirt with whoever will flirt with them and enjoy recognition and appreciation from the parents.

This is an American problem. Our system is based on winning and depreciation of losers but we pretend to kids that it's all equal even as we watch human beings fall through the cracks without giving a shit. It's not. Try your best! That's what matters! And yet we call everyone a "winner" because we're afraid if we acknowledge that not everyone can be a winner we're afraid it means that we have to treat some people badly. The point isn't that it's bad to lose but that losing should not be what determines a persons right to exist and be seen and contribute to the best of their abilities with recognition for their work even if they don't ever become "the best" at anything. It's not bad to acknowledge some people are better at some things-- or many things- than others. The problem is when being the best is what determines the right to see yourself as a good worthy person at all.

Superman shouldn't be going home to a house where no one gives a shit about him to begin with-- even if he never wins at bowling his whole life. Or at the school system, or at employment.

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I find this blog interestin... (Below threshold)

January 31, 2012 5:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I find this blog interesting because of the different interpretations that different posters have on the situations presented. Sometimes the interpretations are in line with my own, in this instance however, I am way off. I read this little scenario as being an instance of bullying. Superman is one of your future "mean kids", the boy is a typical victim (the kind of kid that the mean kids can smell from a mile away), the princess is the child that defends the bullied and stands up to the bully. The parents are clueless because they miss the opportunity to confront the bully and teach their son how to stand up to people who want to put you down. All the details about cheating, rules, etc are kind of irreleveant in my opinion. Seven year olds are lucky if they can get the ball down the lane without dropping it - most parents couldn't care less if the kids underhand the ball or cross the line - it's an activity at a birthday party whose purpose is meant to kill a little time and keep the kids somewhat entertained, not the bowling olymics. I may be way off as to the "true meaning" or deeper symbolism presented here - that's just my opinion.

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It doesn't matter if the bo... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2012 9:02 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It doesn't matter if the boy wins or not, it's just some half-arsed bowling game at some other kids party. It matters that the boy is the type a kid that others think could be made to deny what is obviously true, even to his own disadvantage, because they sense in him...

The congratulations on winning from the parents are probably harmless in themselves, but here they are form of denial, avoidance or distraction from the meaning of what superman was showing to them.

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Does it matter if Superman ... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2012 12:56 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Does it matter if Superman thinks you have won or not? Do you need other people to tell you whether or not you've won or not? Do we rely on ourselves to judge our success or do we rely on other people's approval as a measure of our success? Does it matter if some trolls made fun of me on the internet? Is it worth my time to spend 4 hours arguing with a stranger on the internet about the "truth" of the matter? Oh questions, questions.

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I agree with Vandal. Some ... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2012 5:03 PM | Posted, in reply to vandal's comment, by lemmy caution: | Reply

I agree with Vandal. Some kids are gullible. Big deal. They will grow out of it. Eventually you run out of things to be gullible about.

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Huge turning points in e... (Below threshold)

February 2, 2012 4:41 PM | Posted, in reply to vandal's comment, by DGS: | Reply

Huge turning points in every little moment only happen in movies and you aren't the main character so stop that.

Pfft. My tickets sell out.

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I think the point is that S... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 2:11 AM | Posted, in reply to Jim's comment, by Lucanio: | Reply

I think the point is that Superman knows he can manipulate the boy but the parents, instead of addressing that problem, just continue making sure he feels good about himself in the moment. But what happens when he grows up and can't rely on his parents for self-esteem?

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You don't know anything abo... (Below threshold)

April 19, 2012 1:35 PM | Posted by Gral: | Reply

You don't know anything about bowling but you emphasize "he double-underhanded it" as an important qualifier?

You're full of it, TLA. What, does having knowledge of bowling embarrass your social-climbing ghost?

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This story has a kind of in... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2012 2:27 PM | Posted by Mark: | Reply

This story has a kind of interesting slant until the pointless overstatement that their action "will make him a neurotic for the rest of his life". Basically dumbs down and ruins the story. Personally, I'm not convinced it's better to be a manipulative kid like Superman than a sucker like the boy. Suckers can wise up. Manipulators are eventually going to have to question themselves, and at least rationalize their manipulations.

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I get the point, but it com... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2012 4:24 PM | Posted by Leon Jesmanowicz: | Reply

I get the point, but it comes off a bit confusing. Not sure if this was the best example of highlighting manipulation since its hard to manipulate something as objective as a score.

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Is the issue that The Boy d... (Below threshold)

July 20, 2012 7:04 PM | Posted by matt: | Reply

Is the issue that The Boy didn't ask Superman why he didn't win? And that the parents could have modeled this behavior, but didn't?

Why is Superman saying the kid didn't win? Did Superman say that because a) the kid didn't follow the rules of bowling and therefore his score is not legit? b)Superman is just a dick, and want's to fuck with the kid? c) "profit!" ? Whatever Superman's intent was, The Boy doesn't learn it.

Perhaps the inference is that The Boy will never learn to question other people who disagree with what appears to be reality. Also, perhaps, that he won't learn the difference between winning legit, and winning in a friendly way? And I suppose The Boy may develop related issues about whether or not he actually deserves anything he receives/earns in life.

I'm not sure 7 year olds are capable of this convesration, but perhaps they could have agreed that that yes, The Boy had the highest score, but he did not obtain that score according the rules.

Some years later, this lesson could be remembered while watching The Big Lebowksi.

Smokey: All right, it's fucking zero. Are you happy, you crazy fuck?
Walter Sobchak: ...It's a league game, Smokey.

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Didn't bother to read all t... (Below threshold)

October 15, 2012 4:44 PM | Posted by Simon: | Reply

Didn't bother to read all the comments but if it wasn't said already, you should incorporate more sentences like these:
..but what he says is irrelevant because the boy's parents are less like parents and more like Idiots and Idiocy can overwhelm everything but death, and death can overwhelm everything else but denial.
Your short stories could be more fun than they currently are, imvho.

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"So this is how you miss th... (Below threshold)

October 17, 2012 5:57 AM | Posted by A.S.C: | Reply

"So this is how you miss the signs"

You mean like how The Boy was not just underhanded, but "double-underhanded" the entire game? How often did he "cross the line"?

What disturbs me most is that no one has figured this out yet...
Superman isn't the issue here. It's all about the Boy. Oh, wait, we were told that too, and still ignored it. Whoosh, there goes another sign.


He manipulated the entire game, because he has been taught that winning is everything; fuck personal integrity and fuck consequences. Just like his cheating mother, he has no conscience. Let's blame her... Whoosh, another sign.

He manipulated the "princess" for her affection... which is a lie in itself, because only the boy in his narcissism/ignorance would think that winning the game = getting the girl.

He has manipulated his parent(s) to thinking that he can do no wrong. Instead of punish him, they reward his narcissism with cake and juice. Everything he does is backward-justified by his narcissism, and reinforced by his environment.

Saying that they are just children is a personal excuse/denial to transfer the responsibility/guilt/blame to another party, and probably some serious Groupthink. Because it's all ok if he's only a "child", right? Next thing you know, the neighborhood pets will start going missing, but god forbid anyone suspect The Boy.

Superman isn't the Ego... he is that feeling of shame that -all of them- possess, and spend their entire lives trying to force back down. Why? Because shame tells you that you are doing something that is wrong, and no narcissist wants to admit to themselves that they fucked up. Denial Denial Denial White Picket Fence Denial.

The Boy isn't just neurotic; he is a Sociopath.

Wake up, Fools.

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"It's so pretty, you never ... (Below threshold)

December 26, 2012 4:27 AM | Posted by Laota: | Reply

"It's so pretty, you never leave." Way to creep me out for Christmas.

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A little help from Wikipedi... (Below threshold)

February 12, 2014 2:38 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

A little help from Wikipedia:
Id: "Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth. It is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives."
Ego: "is a regulating mechanism that enables the individual to delay gratifying immediate needs and function effectively in the real world"
Super-ego: "reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence. The super-ego works in contradiction to the id. The super-ego strives to act in a socially appropriate manner, whereas the id just wants instant self-gratification. The super-ego controls our sense of right and wrong and guilt."

Assume the Princess is the Id, and Superman is the Super-ego. Problem here is the parents reinforce the Id when they're supposed to help the boy develop his Super-ego. I.e. the boy's "Superman" knows he cheated and questions the validity of his win, which implies the boy is still at stage in life where pointing out that cheating is not okay will actually work. However, instead of telling him why his conscience might be right, his parents side with his Id and give him instant gratification and the constant reassurance he's a winner. Hence, a conscious mediation between Id and Super-ego (Ego) will never develop properly.

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