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Tuesday, March 29, 2011  

Pok in the Eye

There are things that a son can say to his father that are like stabbing him through the heart with a spear made of dry ice. Things like "I hate you" and "Are we there yet?" and "I think I did something to your computer." In M. Edium's case, the phrase in question was "I think I like Pokémon better than Star Wars." We swore we'd never tell him what (or who) to love, but now I have some sense of what it felt like for fathers of earlier generations to hear, "Dad, I'm gay."

I was plenty into Star Wars my own self, starting when I was a year older than he is and going on from there through a period longer than he's been alive. I've been quite happy to share his Star Wars interest for the past few years, even though Star Wars means Clone Wars 80% of the time these days, and Clone Wars means proto-Stormtroopers as good guys, and ass-fugly spaceships, and a stripe-haired, orange, alien Bratz, and a dashing hero who's basically Young Hitler. Not always easy to get behind.

But at least it makes sense. A battle between good and evil. Pokémon, I don't get at all. Even the books don't clear anything up. I've tried to read a couple, and they don't make a lick of sense, even the ones printed in English. I was six pages into one of them before I realized it was supposed to be read from front to back and I'd started at the end.

I can understand how it started with him. M. Edium learned about Pokémon (God, it's even annoying to type) at either kindergarten or Montessori, I really don't care which. He knew kids who had Pokémon cards and thus he wanted some, so Trash went online and bought him a batch of used ones for a price so low they were almost worth it (or so we thought at the time). That made him happy. He started bringing them to school and showing them to people. Then he wanted to look at the new ones every time we went to Target (especially the shiny ones), and then he was wanting more, and then Trash found someone local on Craigslist who was selling a whole shoe box of them for 20 bucks, and now he has thousands of them. You know how if you're ever unwise enough to use glitter in your house for anything, suddenly the glitter is insidiously everywhere? Multiply the size of all those shiny little motes by a few hundred, print some nonsensical words and a freaky dead-eyed cartoon character on each one of them, and you have our house.

And yet somehow M. Edium is learning to identify them by sight. Or at least that's what it seems like to us; he could be uttering nonsense syllables and we wouldn't know the difference between that and his explanation of which Pokémons battle with, evolve from, are bigger or smaller than, or have sex with which other Pokémons.

It's not all Trash's fault, of course. M. Edium's own pack-ratlike tendencies mean that of course he was going to hoard Pokémon cards, and stash them in various different places around the house and refuse to commingle the "special" ones in the shoe box he keeps the others in. There are little stacks of Pokémon cards that I'm running into all over the house, like the corn kernels and alfalfa pellets I run into when I clean Bucky's cage.

And maybe I'm to blame as well. It's possible I'm encouraging his interest too much, being too indulgent. Today he showed me a printout of different Pokémon creatures crowding a single sheet of paper, seeming to jumble and writhe before my horrified eyes like a bestiary imagined by an alternate-universe H.P. Lovecraft who grew up on Japanese cartoons, and asked me which one I like best. I probably shouldn't have held back, but I couldn't bring myself to be totally honest with him.

"I hate them all," I said instead.

"Even that one?" he asked, pointing hopefully to some round, compact bundle of anime-face and nightmare fuel.

I cast around in my mind for something positive to say and landed on, "I'd like to have one of those to roast alive on a spit."

"What about that one?" he asked.

"I'm not filled with rage and loathing as long as I don't look at it directly," I sugarcoated.

Every once in a while, Trash and I are momentarily broken-hearted at seeing some new sign of how much our little boy has grown up. But now that Pokémon has returned him to babbling incoherent made-up words, and relating stories that make no sense, it's like we're getting a taste of that all over again.

UPDATE: Apparently Trash also had this exact conversation with him, verbatim.

posted by M. Giant 8:52 PM 4 comments

4 Comments:

The only good thing I have found so far about Pokemon is that the cards don't hurt as much as Lego when you step on them.

By Blogger My name is Andy., at March 30, 2011 at 3:24 AM  

I actually didn't mind the Pokemon and even worse, Yu-Gi-Oh cards once I realized that figuring out the "battles" involved doing some fairly complex math. Go, math skills! My boy has them; I do not.

By Blogger Marchelle, at March 30, 2011 at 10:01 AM  

My daughter has only one Pokemon card, given to her by one of her (boy) friends from school. (She does, however, have a vast assortment of Star Wars toys, both Original Flavor - mostly acquired thanks to eBay and CL - and Clone Wars. She is her father's daughter.)

She seems to have skipped right over Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and gone straight for the Bakugans. The bad part of those is that they're pointy to step on if they're open, and they roll and trip you up even more if they're closed. I suppose I'm grateful she isn't into Pokemon though Andy does have a point that the Pokemon cards would be less painful to step upon...

By Blogger Heather, at March 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM  

I feel your pain. My 6-yr-old came home from kindergarten recently and told me about her great and unending love for "Justin Beaver."

We thought a lack of television in the home might make us safe, but we were horribly wrong. Kindergarten is a hotbed of dangerous knowledge.

By Blogger Bunny, at April 6, 2011 at 11:44 AM  

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