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July 14, 2008

Pokemon-Anon

Img_0540_2 I live with an eight-year-old Pokemon addict. If anyone knows of a support group for the family members of those with a similar affliction, could you please e-mail me their contact information? I don't think there's much that can be done for the addict himself, but I could use some coping strategies.

I have been a parent long enough to know that kids go through these periods of intense attachment to particular interests or activities. In some cases, it does turn out the be the proverbial "going through a phase," particularly with younger children. Sometimes it lays the foundation for a lifelong love affair, like the one my son has with baseball. But regardless of the eventual outcome of the obsession, it can make living with the obsessed one very interesting - or, just as likely, very boring.

My son's sports-nuttiness at least made sense to me. I even aided and abetted it by getting him subscriptions to Sports Illustrated for Kids and Baseball Weekly, and I was pretty proud of the fact he was already reading the newspaper daily - even if it was mostly for the box scores - when he was in the third grade. However, I have to be honest about the many times I didn't listen all that attentively to his sports chatter.

My stepson's all-consuming interest in everything related to these junior-grade anime characters is something else - and for the rest of us, but especially for me, what it mostly is is exhausting. He has Pokemon games for his Nintendo DS, he spends as much of his money as he's allowed to on Pokemon cards and paraphenalia, he has devoted a remarkable amount of time to learning everything he can about the world of Pokemon - and he can't stop talking about it. He'll be glad to tell you how the various characters "evolve," which fight moves are most effective (or "super-effective") against which types of Pokemon (as I understand it, the word is the same in both singular and plural), and the detailed plot lines of various Pokemon adventures. He doesn't need you to be a particularly engaged audience, either. We've started responding to some of his queries of "Do you want me to tell you how (such-and-such Pokemon thing) affects (such-and-such Pokemon thing)?" with, "Well, no, not really...but you're going to tell us anyway, aren't you?" "Well, I'll tell you anyway," he says. The inattentive-listening habits I developed with his older stepbrother are definitely getting some use these days, but they're also getting increasingly obvious.

Granted, the world of Pokemon seems surprisingly complex - but maybe it just seems that way because I'm not all that focused on what he tells us about it. However, I've heard enough to be convinced that while this particular imaginary world may well be "just a phase," it sounds a lot like a gateway drug to Dungeons and Dragons.

They say awareness and acknowledgment that you have a problem is the first step, and at the beginning of July, Stepson announced his intention to give up Pokemon for a month. He fell off the wagon in just over a week. I understand the importance of nurturing our children's interests, but this one seems to be flourishing quite well, thank you very much, even with the rest of the family's lack of interest.  I'm just trying to figure out how to nurture my patience until this thing runs its course - assuming it does, that is. This one has to be "just a phase," right?

photo credit: Paul Vasquez

An original Los Angeles Moms Blog post

Florinda Pendley Vasquez also blogs at The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness (it's not just a title, it's a mission statement).

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