Pokémon (Go) can Stay

Tamales or hotdogs? I wondered to myself as I got in the car after church today. I wasn't sure if I had enough hotdogs to feed everybody who would be at our house so I called our middle kid, Hallie, who'd already had time to get home with our thirteen year old, Rylie.

I asked,

Would you look and see how many hotdogs are in the package in the fridge?

I can't, she explained. We're at a raid.

I smiled and told her to carry on and text me when she got home.

Had you told me before this year that my kids would be out loitering, admittedly at a raid, I'd likely be upset, or at least confused. These days when they're running the streets together I know they're playing Pokémon Go, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

In case you're not hip to Pokémon Go, here's how lifehacker.com describes it.

In Pokémon, monsters roam the lands, and your job is to find, capture, and train them. Then you put them in battle against other players...The game works by using your phone’s GPS for your real-world location and augmented reality to bring up those cool-looking Pokémon on your screen, overlaid on top of what you see in front of you.

...me, that time I caught a bulbasaur...

I haven't always been grateful for Pokémon. Thirteen years ago our oldest, Hayden found a Pokémon trading card (the original card game that started the Pokémon craze) at my grandmas house. There were several cards lying on the ground where an older cousin had left them. An older teenager, this cousin was moving on to bigger and better things and told Hayden to take those cards (and several others he had tucked away somewhere.)

It's more than a decade later. Pokémon has made the move with us to three different houses. It's provided all three kids with hours of entertainment and plenty of questions to bug me with. Mama, who do you think is more powerful, a charmander or eevee?

I still have no idea how to play, but I'll throw some terms to show you, and my kids, that I'm at least superficially aware of what they've been playing: •trainer •points •trade •water/fire/plant •energy •attacks •Pikachu, Jigglypuff (Jigglypuff just so happened to be a Pokémon name I heard no less than a thousand times on a worn out Pokémon episode.)

There were cartoons, stuffed animals and DS games and an entire aisle in Target where you could buy trading cards in a foil pack or in bulk with a specially priced anniversary tin. I was glad when Hayden and Hallie were both in the phase at the same time and could occupy each other. The downside would be that upon graduating from the Pokémon obsession, he'd passed the love for all things Pokémon on to Hallie.

Rather than delighting in unicorns or barbies, birthday requests during those preteen years included the Pokémon Ruby version for her Nintendo DS.

Now we have Pokémon Go. And my girls go on raids where they temporarily ditch life's worries and demands, and in childlike innocence escape to a world where life plays by simple rules.

They cruise to fast food parking lots and the Masonic Lodge. They go to the park and take walks while on the lookout for monsters they can battle...together.

I don't know how much longer this phase will last. I don't know if I'll ever understand Pokémon and it's rules of training, and playing and winning. They don't choose to include me in it anymore. I'm just glad that it's been a part of my children's growing (most importantly alongside one another). It's a game that exceeds my understanding, but has earned my delight.

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