New Tricks and Old Tricks

So, I think I’ve got to learn how to play Pokémon.  I’ve still got a few years, but eventually I’ll have to learn.

My granddaughter, who just turned seven a few months ago, was over yesterday for school.  For better or worse, her grandfather is an elementary grade teacher who really needs someone to teach, and she’s convenient. Well, and there’s the pandemic. I suppose that’s relevant.

Anyway, we sat down at the kitchen table like we always do, but today she puts a small box on the table and announces that we’re going to play a game of Pokémon.  

I looked over at the pile of stuff I had ready for reading, then looked at the  expectant face sitting across from me.  Time was tight, though, and there wasn’t enough of it for a game.  So, I said we’d play if that’s what she wanted to do.  I think I mentioned I’m a grandfather. 

Really, there was a little bit of time for a game, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over 15 years of teaching it’s that you’ve got to bend a little every once in a while.  Especially if, well, it’s your granddaughter.

Now, here’s the thing.  I’ve been around kids and Pokémon cards for a long time, and I’m not sure I’ve ever known one (a kid, not a card) who actually knows how to play the game.  Heck, I’m not even sure if it is a game–for all I know, it could just be an example of incredible marketing.  I’m sure that thousands of those cards have sat safely on my desk at school before being taken home at the end of the day, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen the game played.

It certainly wasn’t today, at least not the way the game designers intended.  My granddaughter told me we were going to play the way her dad taught her to play, but it turns out she couldn’t remember how that worked.  It was a tricky spot for me to be in: If we just called it off, I could go ahead and scrap my reading lesson as well because, to put it mildly, the mood would be broken.  If I let her decide, without any help, how the game was to be played, the reading lesson would have been called on account of darkness.

In keeping with the spirit of things, I played the “this is how the kids in my class play the game” trick, and it worked!  We basically played “War” using the point values on the card, and she couldn’t have been happier that I won.  Well, she actually won the Pokémon game, but I got to teach my lesson with a happy student.  I’ll put that win in my column any day of the week!

17 Comments

  1. What an adorable post. I love it! My son had a gazillion Pokemon cards and I could never figure out the point or what you do with them. I love that you and your granddaughter were able to play together. You have such a great writing voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathleen. I know there’s a game in there somewhere–I’ve just got to find it. I love the time spent with both of my granddaughters, even if I have to make up the rules!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! I can totally relate. As a first grade teacher (a decade ago), I managed to avoid getting into the weeds of Pokemon. But now my young nephews are obsessed with Pokemon, so I’m being dragged back in (kicking and screaming on the inside).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to use your rules! We haven’t been able to figure out how to play this game either. My son (age 8) love stop collect the cards, but beyond organizing them we’re not sure what to do. Maybe organizing them is enough? But it would be fun to have a game to play.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re a good guy! Fun post to read! I can really relate to an early sentence of yours: “is an elementary grade teacher who really needs someone to teach.” We had friends at our cabin this weekend (3rd and 6th grade) and for better or worse both received some indirect instruction on monarch rearing, astronomy, and bead weaving! I also saw some Indian Pipe plants and got to educate on those as well. Sometimes, we, as teachers cannot help ourselves! Glad you got both the game in and a lesson done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We can’t help it–we’ve got to teach! I was out hiking with some friends a few months ago, and purposefully “behaving myself.” The mom turned to me after a while and asked, “Aren’t you going to teach us anything?” Of course, I obliged!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this Tim! My granddaughter just turned 2. I haven’t seen her since January although my daughter makes sure we FaceTime every day. It’s so wonderful that you have these opportunities to spend with your granddaughter. The reading lesson can wait.

    Liked by 1 person

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