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!