Monday, January 23, 2017

The Great Pokemon Heist

I believe much has been written about the kids' infatuation with Pokemon. Elise and I relate it to an addiction of sorts. I never collected or traded baseball cards, so I don't know if the pastime is similar.

Because the cards are used as pieces in a game, some have more value than others, i.e. inflict more damage or have more life points than an opponent's card. The cards are sold in packs of ten, but you don't know which cards are in the pack when you buy it. The pack may hold an extremely rare Mega Charizard EX which inflicts 150 points damage. Or -- perhaps more likely -- the pack holds a bunch of mediocre cards you already have.

This set-up leads the kids to continually beg us to buy them new Pokemon cards even though they already have a zillion, more than you would ever need to actually play the game. I didn't quite catch on to this at first. I enjoyed the Saturday or Sunday sunny afternoon outing of riding our bikes to the local comic book store. I would pull Clementine behind me in the trailer, and Peter would scoot along the bicycle path on his scooter until we had to cross Broad St.

I would happily buy them a $5 pack of Pokemon cards and peek at a few of the new titles in the comic book section. I used to read comics voraciously. All the way through college, until such a time when I couldn't keep up with the number of titles I wanted to follow. Falls-offs in the quality of the writing on two of my favorites titles caused me to quit the habit all together and divest myself of most of my comic book collection, several very heavy boxes packed with comics. I only kept my Uncanny X-men. I have almost the entire run and am keeping them to pass on to the kids when they are old enough.

So, I guess what I'm saying is I was an easy target. Whenever they asked me to go to the comic book store, I would enthusiastically agree.

News of the boys' love for Pokemon cards quickly spread throughout the family, and they received tons of new Pokemon cards for Christmas. Uncle Dave showered them with new cards when we went to Florida to visit family a week or so ago. We had to run into Target on Friday, and I took the kids to look in the toy section. Peter begged me for new Pokemon cards. I told him he had just received new cards from Uncle Dave.

He was of course devastated.

We don't have very many coloring books in the house. On occasion, Peter will ask me to print out coloring sheets for him. This is either an indication of how cheap I am or that I am a genius.

When we got home from Target, he asked me to print out Pokemon cards for him. It seemed like a harmless request. Especially considering I hadn't let him buy any new ones.

He asked me to print him Mega Charizard EX, the aforementioned extremely rare card that I saw for sale at the comic book store last night for $160. Without thinking, I googled the card, surfed to the page, hit print, and walked out of the room, leaving Peter waiting at the foot of the printer for his card to print.

I went back to folding laundry. A few minutes later, Peter came in and showed me a perfect forgery of a counterfeit Mega Charizard EX card.

He had cut out the card I had printed and put it into a plastic sleeve he had bartered for at school. I looked at him disbelievingly. The card looked real!

I told him, probably more sternly than I intended (and trying to hide my amazement at his creativity and pride), "Petey, you can't trade this at school."

I was picturing Peter swindling one of his classmates out of one of their very good and very legitimate cards.

"Petey, you can't even play this against Sam."

Envisioning the next likeliest scenario wherein he tries to beat his brother in a match with his new all-powerful card.

I was impressed. But I couldn't show it. Was I raising a diabolical genius?? A super-villian at seven???

In his defense, he felt bad. He crumpled up the card and eventually threw it away. I didn't mean to make him feel bad, but perhaps it was for the best.

I know there are many life lessons I am not yet fully prepared to teach. And that I won't be able to predict all the parenting challenges we will eventually face, but I honestly didn't think I would have to tell my first-grader that what he had essentially done was called counterfeiting and that it was wrong.

All while hiding a smile. 

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