Pokemon Parents, GO!
We’ve been playing Pokémon Go for a couple days now, and my 3.5-year-old loves it. I can’t help but wonder if she likes it because, on some level, she’s somehow identifying with the game. She knows what it’s like to not necessarily want to be found (even if her version of hide-and-seek always sees her “hiding” in the same place), she never wants to get caught (much better to blame the cat for all crayon and wall related incidents), battle is second nature, especially when she’s tired.
I might not need an augmented reality app to find my toddler, but in some ways she kind of reminds me of a Pokémon. I mean, she didn’t look like a Bulbasaur at birth or anything, but she did eventually spend a fair while getting around on all fours.
If she’s the Pokémon, that makes me one of her Pokémon trainers, which means I have to be really good at the whole capture, training and battle stuff. I won’t get any stardust for my efforts and any candy I score will be self-provided (and medicinal) and may or may not need to be shared.
The Three Duties of the Pokémon Trainer Parent:
Ever tried to catch a toddler who is resisting the proposed bath, meal or bed time? It’s tough. No capture is as tricky, though, as the toddler on a dedicated nudie run. The more inappropriate the timing, the more difficult they are to capture. When you have a mini streaker charging through your rental inspection or open house, you’ll wish it was as simple as throwing a well-aimed Poké Ball. Same goes for the toddler that decides the supermarket aisle will be great for sprinting practice or that treats the local library like an obstacle course they are hell-bent on completing and high speed and maximum volume.
How much training is involved in parenting? Sleep training is where you try to train your baby to sleep but often end up training yourself to survive on sleeping in random increments. Then you train your baby to eat and no matter which method you choose (letting them gnaw on chunks of food or making specially prepared smooshy stuff) it’s going to be messy. When they get a bit bigger, you’ll help train them to walk, which is like herding around a tiny drunk person and trying to stop them falling over. Then there comes toilet training, also known as the Squirtle phase, which is perhaps the messiest training you’ll do until they hit their teens and want to start dating.
Initially, your battle is to catch yourself a Pokémon, which is as simple as throwing a Poké Ball at them. It does get more complex later on, but you can just wander around for ages, catching Pokémons and strengthening your critters. As mentioned, toddlers aren’t quite that easy to manage when in full battle mode and throwing balls at them is definitely frowned upon.
Instead, you must become a master of strategy and choosing your battles when you have a toddler. For instance, if you have a fiery Charmander, you have to learn how to avoid the meltdowns (Ha! Good luck!) and channel that fire into fun activities and imaginative play. Your gentle Pidgey can be ferocious when they feel attacked, so work on gentle ways to suggest to them that clothes are required before you go to the park. And even the cutest Pikachu can zap you if they don’t understand why they can’t just have sausages and ice cream for every meal.
Pokémon: Is this real life? Is it just fantasy?
I haven’t even started on the finer details of the game compared to real life- from incubating Pokemon eggs to having what they need to revive after battles (a cool drink and a cuddle after a tanty, am I right?!). Poke Stations, where you restock on Poke Balls and other random items- that’s just like your local petrol station. You know, the one you duck to because it’s close to home and easy to park, to get stuff you actually need (milk, bread) as well as random crap you suddenly want (Mars Bars for you, Kinder Egg to bribe the little one). Is a Pokemon Gym really just a metaphor for dodgy indoor play centres where toddlers fight for supremacy in the ball pit? I don’t know! I also don’t know about using “candy” to up your kid’s “combat power”. That seems like a mistake? But maybe it’s all part of their “evolution”. All I know is that we’re having fun. Getting out of the house, going places, doing stuff. That’s gotta be leveling up my parenting, right?! Even if I play a little like this:
Do you play? Any tips?