They say if you don’t find a missing child within 48 hours, the chances of it all coming out good aren’t great. Those first 48 hours are crucial.
After last year’s successful (!) attempt at taking charge of one of my teenage nephews for a whole 10 days, unsupervised, his brother had to have his turn, too. This year, better versed in my limitations I offered a week rather than 10 days. He arrived yesterday morning.
Many moons ago, in Alaska, I met a family of five very different children. I wondered then, as I wonder now, how kids growing up in the same environment with the same set of stimuli and the same two parents can be so very different (and yes, I’m a woman without issue).
It’s the laid-backness of it all that brings the pressure to bear.
What would you like to do? What would you like to eat? When would you like to eat? Any question beginning with what or when is invariably met with a useless variation of I don’t know, I don’t mind, I don’t care. Beautifully delivered mind you, with a hint of conciliation and an element of wanting to be as little trouble as possible.
I did my usual check of electronic equipment that had been brought with him so I knew what I was up against and to my shock, there was only his iPhone. Impressed, I stated the one rule we had to abide by – no phone use in company. An easy one that. As long as he showers every day, brushes his teeth morning and evening, and sticks by the phone rule, he can go to bed when he likes, get up when he likes (unless we’ve agreed a schedule), and eat what he wants. He’s on holiday and I’m his favourite aunt (even if I’m just not with it).
We wandered around, took the tram, went shopping for dinner, and then came back home to unload. I suggested we pop out for a lemonade to meet some mates of mine. ‘Next time’, he said. ‘I promise I’ll go next time, but not now.’
So not four hours after he’d arrived, I left him to it. I said I’d be back in an hour. And I was. But I was too late. I’d lost him. He’d disappeared. And now, nearly 48 hours later, I’m wondering how I can get him back.
Until yesterday, the lovely church across the road from me was just a church. Now, though, I realise that it’s a Poké stop, somewhere you can get potions to heal your sick Pokémon. Yesterday evening about 7 pm there was a major panic as the Poké gym in Google Play (just behind the flat) was attacked. In the battle that followed (which we watch, live), it went from a Level 4 gym with a prestige of 10575 (?) to a Level 1 gym that was unmanned. He’d briefly considered a takeover but didn’t have the whatevers to do what was needed.
After dinner, we spoke about going for a walk, a suggestion that elicited something approaching a groan, until a river was mentioned. And then it was all enthusiasm. A complete 180. Whatever, I thought. Just go with the flow, Mary. You don’t need to understand the whys and wherefores of the teenage mind, just go with it.
That was before I knew that MagiKarp hang out by the river and if you catch 101 of them you can trade them for 400 pieces of candy that you can then evolve into a Gyarados – and a Gyarados might have saved the gym. Ye gods!
I feel like I’m living with an alien. I don’t have the language, the words, the bandwidth to follow what’s going on. When did play get so complicated, so insular? On the tram, he pointed out all the adults (yes, adults) who were also hooked to their phones, feverishly swiping and whatnot – they, too, were on the Pokémon Go. He told me stories of people walking off cliffs while playing Pokémon Go. Of Pokémon hunters being mistaken for burglars and getting shot. Of car accidents caused by diverted attention. All mad.
Today, we met some other kids. First up, another 13-year-old who had vaguely heard of the concept but really knew nothing about it. All attempts to explain the fascination were met with one word: Why? My kinda kid. Another one, although not a player herself, could answer every question he put to her: How many teams? What colours are they? What’s the highest level of whatever? Okay, so she knows the theory but hasn’t succumbed to practice. But my lad, he’s been bitten. And bitten badly.
I should be proud. He’s a Level 9 (in just a few weeks of playing). He’s a smart kid. He’s a nice kid. He’s a good kid. I just wish he’d come back from Pokéland and do kid things.
Tomorrow, I’m playing the Aunt-knows-best card and we’re ditching the Pokémon. We’re going to see some dinosaurs. I just hope I get through the day without him pointing out that perhaps I’m one 🙂