The day after most of my former students — now grown and most with kids of their own — downloaded Pokémon Go, I decided to do the same.
It’s not because I’m trendy (I’m as far from that as I could be and still reside in the same hemisphere). I’m not into Pokémon, either. That’s something my kids grew up playing, and all but one have mostly outgrown.
I did it because I saw a way to connect with my kids in a way I hadn’t before.
Let me state up front that we’re close… it’s just hard for me to get them excited about being outside in bathwater-level humidity while the ambient temperature outside approximates that of solar plasma.
Here’s my take on Pokémon Go, not that anyone cares. If you’re working, it’s stupid and counterproductive, and patently dangerous if you’re working with machinery or driving (or lifeguarding, teaching, etc). I’ve rolled my eyes and moaned in frustration at the kid who skateboarded right in front of my van in a parking lot, because he was after something on his phone. I wondered at the irony of people sitting in a church parking lot near my house, their lights aimed right into my bedroom, because it’s a designated gym and they had to digitally duke it out at 2 a.m.
But before you make fun of it, let me tell you what it’s done for me.
It’s encouraged my kids — all of whom are Vitamin-D deficient, despite living in the Sunshine State, two of whom also have autoimmune disorders — to walk in the sun with me (and walking with rheumatoid arthritis isn’t really a pleasant thing for me, generally speaking).
We’re spending time together, and they’re teaching me about something they’re excited about. It’s compelled us to be silly and energized, exploring our town together. Today, for example, we checked out a cemetery behind my house we’ve not explored for the 11 years I’ve lived here. Shame we didn’t do it sooner; I’d have found the gate that’s always closed isn’t actually locked.
Turns out, we have some surprisingly old markers there, and we learned some things about residents who lived in this farming area years and years ago.
Also, my kid captured a Pokémon for me there — my strongest one, apparently (it has flowers on its head and is a grass type, so it makes sense it was hiding in this quiet place). It was hanging out behind a tree.
That being said, I embarrass myself daily, and the kids love it. I mispronounce the names of most of the critters in my Pokédex. I’m just happy I’ve somehow absorbed through osmosis what a Pokédex is, and that Eevee is not just super-cute, but is capable of numerous Eeveelutions. I shrieked when a spiderly-looking thing called a Paras popped up on my desk. They chased me around with it. It was silly, and fun, and absolutely perfect.
Instead of making fun of people, do your thing and let them do theirs, unless they’re being jackasses and looking at their dang phones when they should be paying attention to traffic. Then, by all means, be irritated.
The game reminds me of geogaching (which I always wanted to try) and, back further, the scavenger hunts we used to do as kids. The funny thing is this: my trip to Europe wasn’t enough to get me walking every day. Increasing my stamina hasn’t provided enough incentive. Neither has potential weight loss, improved self-esteem or motivational memes, or even those marathons and medals.
But spending time with my kids? THAT did it, and if a silly app is the cause, I’m okay with that.