If you’ve been paying attention the last three and a half weeks, you’ve probably heard a cacophony of opinions about Pokémon Go. Well actually, you’ve probably mostly heard people griping about how stupid it is that someone put a snipe hunt into a phone app and suddenly everyone’s flocking to city parks like Columbus just discovered a “New World.”
Among the Poké-bashers is Juan Buis of The Next Web, who says everyone should delete Pokémon Go from our phones right now, for our own good.
Not because the app could give the developer or anyone who hacks them access to your whole Google footprint. It’s not because the game’s glitchy and there’s that ping-y music that will trigger an eye twitch in about thirty-seven seconds. Nope. It’s not because people are catching Pokémon in places like cemeteries and hospitals and memorials where it’s really kind of grossly inappropriate to be playing a game of any sort. Nuh uh.
Nope. Juan wants us to stop playing Pokémon Go right now, because it is a COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME. We’re better off spending that time doing something productive.
Wait, a minute … you mean to tell me my kids dragged themselves away from their quadratic equations and bonsai pruning to play a game that has no freaking point? You’re saying they’ve forgone their studies in ancient Sanskrit and their practice in Thai Chi for NOTHING?
I kid. Because, you know what else involves no skill, Juan? Pretty much anything and everything my kids are doing with their free time this summer.
For weeks, each of these sweet, lazy bums has been rolling out of bed at noon to complain that there aren’t any frozen burritos to heat up for breakfast and wonder why we don’t have any cereal bowls in the cupboard.
News flash: We have no clean cereal bowls because they’re all in my kids’ bedrooms with spoons stuck to the dehydrated sugar-milk residue in the bottom.
I know. Juan! We live like pigs.
I don’t know about anyone else, but my kids take the summer slide fairly seriously. The minute that last bell at school rings and they’re throwing papers and binders and crap in the air as they burst through the doors like actors in some music video, my boys have pretty much forgotten not only everything they learned that year, but just about everything else, too.
Heck, we’re halfway through the summer, and I’m not sure they’re able to form actual words anymore, much less complete sentences. All I get in response to a query is a series of grunts and hand signals.
At this rate, by the end of August, we’ll probably find ourselves trying to load a couple globs of amorphous goo onto the school bus.
You ever try putting pants on amorphous goo, Juan? Huh?
Here’s the thing, we have a little history with Pokémon around here and it’s good. Although I personally want to hack my way out of the room with a hatchet whenever I hear that damn music, I have a lot to be grateful for as a parent.
Jack’s Nintendo DS was the first thing he ever saved for to purchase (nearly) on his own, and it was for love of Pokémon. There was a series of Pokémon books from which my kids learned to read, and plush Pokémon toys they dragged to bed with them. We had an electronic Pikachu doll that occasionally had to go into timeout (i.e. have the batteries removed) when mom or dad couldn’t take the noise, but was otherwise a fairly regular companion of a certain kindergartener.
Our kids learned socialization skills and sharing – aka bartering and blackmailing – trading Pokémon trading cards. When I started working from home, Pokémon videos were occasional babysitters.
Over the years, Pokémon kind of faded in their estimation, until recently, when Colin told me he had take the dog for a walk, having recently come into the possession of a “10k egg” that needed hatching. It was our first sign he might not actually dissolve into a puddle before school starts again, and I hugged him fiercely and let him outside.
FRESH AIR for the boy, Juan. It was like Christmas in July.
Then more miracles happened: his brother downloaded the ap. Suddenly both kids started making regular appearances awake and fully dressed before noon to go on Pokémon hunts. With EACH OTHER. What kind of crazy voodoo was this?
I had to find out.
Today’s run featured Pokemon intervals. Made for a somewhat slower pace …. pic.twitter.com/xSyupDoVmD
— Beth Markley (@bethmarkley) July 13, 2016
Now I’m one of the throng, Juan. I’m level 15, I know where the neighborhood pokéstops are, and my highest CP Pokémon is a Flareon at 752. It’s not as much as some, but enough for one of my kid’s friends to exclaim recently “your mom’s kicking my butt, Jack.”
That’s what’s really going on. There’s a new point of contact between a forty-something parent and her teens, and between each of them and the other. There are actual conversations and long walks on hot summer evenings, and a dog that’s insanely happy about dragging someone along on a leash two or three times a day.
Connection. That doesn’t take a lot of skill either, but I’ll take it. We can save the Sanskrit studies for some other time.
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