“Can we help you find anything?”
“Actually, yes,” I replied. “We’re trying to build our Pokémon decks so we can defeat our kids and I need some different energy types and a few evolutions.”
I wish you could have seen the game shop employees’ faces when I said that. It totally cracked them all up and they were happy to show us how to find the cards we needed.
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I guess there’s something that stands out about a family walking in the game shop to buy Pokémon cards for mom and dad, but it’s where we are now.
Before you get the wrong idea, know these Pokémon decks are more than a card game for us. They are an effort to step into our kids’ world and meet them where they are.
Instead of expecting them to get excited about the latest Masterpiece Theater series or March Madness, this is my husband and me learning their thing and playing their game.
And you know what? It’s kinda fun.
The Importance of Playing with Your Kids
All of this started when I came across a short, but profound statement in The Brave Learner:
Value what your children value.– Julie Bogart
Value what your children value. It seems simple enough, but it was a new concept for me. In fact, there have even been times when I’ve been downright irritated by what my kids value.
I’m not proud of it, but I’ve always viewed my children’s passions to be unworthy of my time and attention. Sure, I could easily argue that I shouldn’t have to value the same things or even show interest in them.
After all, I’m an adult and I’ve got work to do, a reading list a mile long, a new episode of This Is Us to watch, a walk to take, and that nagging thought in the back of my mind that I should learn needlepoint or some other handicraft.
Why should I make room for Pokémon?
Why it’s time to dive into your kid’s favorite thing
Here’s the thing: Pokémon itself isn’t the point here. What it really comes down to is finding the thing that’s important to our kids and diving in with both feet.
Both of my kids love Pokémon and they have for years, but this could be football, Disney Princesses, Star Wars, or a favorite band. It can be anything, but it’s got to be something that matters to your kids.
It has to matter to them because, like it or not, relationships take work. And if we want our kids to learn how to love others well, we have to love them well.
Sometimes that looks like your loaded Mewtwo being defeated by a Ditto card.
Seriously though, what does all of this have to do with loving our children well? Ultimately, it’s about making memories.
It’s about putting aside my perfectly appropriate to-do list and simply playing. It’s about learning something new just for the sake of stepping in their world. Playing with my kids is a simple way to be present.
Here are a few other things I’m learning about playing with my kids:
1. Mom trumps Homeschool Mom every time.
I’m so grateful for homeschooling and the gifts that come with it, but all those blurred lines between life and learning sometime make it hard to just be mom and connect with my kids without an educational agenda in the back of my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I know my kids are grateful for the lifestyle they lead as homeschoolers. They’re well aware of the benefits and they know Homeschool Mom has to show up in order to make this day-to-day homeschool life happen for them.
Even so, playing with my kids shows them I’m more than a homeschool mom — I’m their mom and their mom just happens to like hanging out with them.
2. Time is a powerful currency.
For us, buying Pokémon decks and learning to play is bigger than a family game night here and there. Our decks are a tangible way to show our kids we want to be in their world just because we like being with them.
What’s more is that we like being with them so much that we would spend time learning something incredibly complex and seemingly over our heads.
When I say over our heads, I mean it. It was honestly a little overwhelming when I was on the outside looking in. It’s some serious business: there’s energy to consider, weaknesses and resistance against other types, card evolutions, hit points, trainers, stadiums, and all other sorts of words that have new meanings to me.
Now that I know how to play, I’m able to jump down in the floor and play against one of my kids every couple of days. The best part is that my husband is usually nearby playing with the other kiddo.
That’s the beauty of this whole thing. Diving into their thing gives us quality time with our kids we wouldn’t have otherwise. Sure, we’re a homeschool family and so much more than we’re apart. But being together and being present aren’t always the same.
Just like other families, homeschoolers have plenty of distractions and plates spinning. That’s where playing with my kids comes into the picture. The simple act of playing offers the gift of time and attention regardless of the plates spinning around us.
3. Playing with my kids helps me see value in their interests.
It’s amazing to think of all the connections our kids make on their own. All those interests and the investigation they inspire? They all work together so profoundly when we get our educational agendas out of the way.
The problem here is that it’s tricky to find value in things that aren’t obviously educational. That’s why you have to step into that world and explore those interests for yourself. You’ll never see the value if you don’t.
If you think your kids aren’t learning through their playtime, play with them and see for yourself what’s lying underneath the surface.
When it comes to Pokémon, I recognized a plethora of skills strengthened through the game once I started playing. Math, strategy and critical thinking, animal science (many of the Pokémon are based on real animals), and language all come into play.
There’s plenty of entertainment and educational value in Pokémon, but I needed to build a deck and start playing to see it all in action. All that to say, it’s highly unlikely there’s absolutely nothing good your kids are gaining through their interests. And, chances are you’ll find the good quite easily once you come alongside them and start playing too.
In closing, know that it’s okay if playing with your kids doesn’t come naturally to you. You can learn all about your their favorite thing and even love it. Before you know it, you may even find yourself in a game shop looking for better cards. 😉