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Three years ago, Niantic, a tech giant, came out with a new augmented reality game called Pokémon Go. It incorporated characters from an early 90’s cartoon and card game onto iPhone and Androids and used GPS location services to allow players to “hunt” these adorable pocket monsters in the real world. It was downloaded more than 500 million times in the first 6 months!
Given that I was a good, obedient kid in the early 90’s, we weren’t allowed to play with Pokémon, because my parents didn’t know much about them. So naturally, I was curious about this crazy phenomenon, and I downloaded the game. The handicap I had immediately was not knowing a thing about these little monsters I was catching – some were really cute (like a baby dragon with a flaming tail) and some were bugs or birds. It was all very strange. I was told the point of the game was that you “gotta catch ‘em all!” – do what?
Then I remembered I married a nerd, who probably knew all about these things… and he did!
So the husband downloaded the game too, and we played together. It was a fun way to get out of the house with the kids and get exercise. Plus, we could collect points just walking around places we took the kids anyway, like the zoo. Win-win.
Alas, the Pokémon hysteria around the app died down, as it always does, but we continued playing. As the kids have gotten older, and we’ve had more technology around the house, they began asking to become Pokémon Trainers, too (and have their own accounts). So it wasn’t a surprise at all this year when they all 3 asked to dress up as Pokémon for Halloween. They didn’t even fight over their favorite characters! So being the kind of mom I am, I skipped over Pinterest entirely and powered up my Amazon app to find the most cost-effective costumes. While I was searching, I happened across a hoodie that depicted the Pokeball used to catch the Pokémon. Since I knew I’d be enormously pregnant by the time Halloween rolled around, I figured what better costume than a large round thing. *Add to cart*
We had a great time this fall – we did all the Halloween things, going to Zoo Boo at the Indianapolis Zoo, decorating our SUV for our church’s Trunk or Treat, carving pumpkins, baking apples, all leading up to the pinnacle of every kid’s Halloween dreams: trick or treat night!
And all the while seeing these crazy miniature humans running around in their adorable costumes got me thinking how much Pokémon and Parenting have in common.
No, I’m not kidding.
Pokémon and Parenting
The basic “point” of Pokémon is to locate and capture pocket monsters before they disappear. You use a combination of rewards you’ve collected or purchased to help them practice battle skills they need in order to level up, get bigger, and change into the evolved version of each monster. And then you leave them in various places to “battle” other Pokémon, helping them to grow and evolve too.
When I look at my current life as a parent, I’m totally the Pokeball: hurling myself after these tiny creatures, hoping to catch them before they run into traffic or start tossing things into the cart at the grocery store. I’m the Pokémon Trainer, too: I use money I’ve earned and gifts I’ve been given to train them how to behave (mostly) appropriately and to teach them the skills and knowledge they’ll need as they naturally evolve into full-grown, functioning adults. Sometimes they’re as cute as a turtle wearing sunglasses; sometimes they’re an innocent looking puff that sings off-key and draws of people’s faces while they sleep, and sometimes they’re actual sea dragons that I’m pretty sure are probably plotting how to get rid of me. But they’re unique, if not a little weird. And they’re fun. And I love them all like crazy. I teach them things, and they teach me things, too.
And, hopefully, eventually (though I don’t want to think about this too much, just yet) when they’ve grown into the best versions of themselves, I’ll launch them into the world, and they’ll station themselves at a place where they are on their own and helping tiny humans in the next generation to grow and thrive, too.
Kelly and Ryan celebrated their 12th anniversary in July; they’re proud parents of Nola (7), Ivan (4) and Callan (2). In her spare time, Kelly works as a full-time Communications Director.
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