Pokemon DS

My son is obsessed with DS Pokemon. Okay, he’s obsessed with Pokemon and playing with the DS Pokemon is as close as he can come to actually capturing and playing with a real Pokemon.

On the car ride in to school he talks to me about Pokemon.

In the morning while I’m doing my yoga, he’s reading the DS guide-book and asking me questions about Pokemon.

At the breakfast table he talks to me about Pokemon.

At dinner he talks to me about Pokemon.

Going to the bathroom he talks about Pokemon.

Taking a shower he talks about Pokemon.

He asks me which one’s he should trade with and for. He asks me which one’s he should keep. He asks me which psychic Pokemon is more powerful. For the record I usually don’t know but I guess a lot. Whenever I suggest something he usually doesn’t need me too. I’m his sounding board, and nothing more. But I’m glad he needs me for something. He wants me to get a DS too so we can play together wirelessly. Did I mention how much I dislike the DS? What to do. The game is too expensive and I just don’t think I could pick up that grenade. Still, I watch the TV show with him and the movies. I like them. It’s the DS I have a harder time with. Fortunately my son has some friends he talks to about Pokemon, and can trade with but I know it is a game played mostly solo and I wish it wasn’t.

In the last month he has played less games and more DS. It worries me. I keep waiting for the intensity level to go down. This afternoon Mom-ita put a moratorium on playing any electronic game and though M-ito had trouble with it, we had a good night of talking, thumb wrestling, arm wrestling, and laughing – something I’ve missed since the DS came to town. Perhaps it’s my imagination. I’m torn. I like the Pokemon thing. I still don’t like the DS.

One Meatball

It’s Sunday evening dinner. Mom-ita made pasta (my sauce, M-ito’s and my meatballs – true teamwork).

“How many meatballs do you want, one or two?” Mom-ita asks from the kitchen.

“One,” M-ito says from the living room. He’s packing his DS into his new Pokemon case. We just bought it on our way back from Tae Kwon Do practice.

Mom-ita asks again. “One or two?

“One,” M-ito says louder.

Twenty minutes later…

We sit down to eat. M-ito, standing, picks up his fork while swaying back and forth (ah for the days when he sat down and sat still for meals).

“Sit down, please,” I say.

“Sit down, M-ito,” Mom-ita echoes.

M-ito sits. His knees are six inches from the table edge. I reach over and slowly draw his chair in towards the table so his “drop-zone” is smaller.

“You should have changed your pants,” Mom-ita says. He’s still wearing his white Tae Kwon Do pants. “They’re never last until Wednesday.”

M-ito smiles as a pea rolls off his fork, unnoticed. I wonder if it hit his pants on the way down. He puts a whole meatball into his mouth and starts to chew.

“Don’t do that!” Mom-ita says, exasperated. “You could choke on that. I told you not to do that!”

“It’s small,” M-ito says around the disappearing meatball.

I shrug. He swallows.

M-ito reaches into his bowl with his fork and starts moving the pasta and peas around. He looks up at us. “Where’s the other meatball?”

“You only asked for two,” Mom-ita says.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes. Yes, you did.”

“No I didn’t!”

I take my second meatball and place it into his bowl. M-ito smiles.

“What are you doing?” Mom-ita asks. “How’s he going to learn to accept the consequences of his actions if you do that? He said he wanted only one.”

I shrug again and give her the what can I do, he’s my son look.

She’s not buying it and looks down and away from me, exasperated again with another male in the family.

We eat quietly for a while. M-ito’s meatball disappears, one half at a time. I drop a pea on the floor. It rolls under M-ito’s chair and remind myself to pick it up after we’re finished eating.

Then half a meatball falls off a fork, Mom-ita’s fork, and onto my plate, like manna from heaven. I stare at it for moment, then pick it up with my fork and eat it, smiling at my wife. She rolls her eyes.

The circle is complete.

Birthday Boogers

I woke up this morning with my son beneath the covers next to me. His eyes were open as if he’d been waiting for me to wake up. I had  a yoga class to teach so I closed my eyes, hoping in my fantaasy world that he would go back to sleep. He leaned over, smiling, and said, “Happy birthday,” then closed his eyes and pretended to go back to sleep.

I rolled out of bed, my body achy from a cold I’ve been fighting off – that and too many late nights/early mornings this week tteaching and travelling. M-ito came out a few minutes later. “Dad-dito,” he said. “I want you to know I didn’t put any boogers on you last night. It’s your birthday so I put them on me instead.”

“Thank you,” I said. “That’s a very thoughtful gift.”

“Today,” he continued, “we’re going to do all things you like to do. So if you don’t want to watch Pokemon tonight (a bit of an evening ritual we’ve been following these days) you don’t have to. We’ll watch what you want to watch.”

“Okay,” I said.

“But… if you want to watch Pokemon, the movie we still haven’t seen, you know, that’s all right with me too.”

“Good.”

Then he hugged me as we looked at each other in the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t so long ago he couldn’t see himself without standing on the step-stool. Now he almost fits under my arm – almost. He’s a beautiful combination of Mom-ita and me.

Then we went out to the living, me to my yoga practice and preparation for the class I had to teach in an hour, and him to watch some TV, Phineas and Ferb to be exact. Usually I don’t let him watch TV while I do my practice. But it’s my birthday, so I figured if he could put the boogers on his own arm instead of mine, I could let him watch a show while I did my practice.

Favorite TV Shows at 7 and 1/4

July’s Favorite TV Shows:

  • Phineas and Ferb (Aglet song and the one hit wonder Gitchie Gitchie Goo song are constantly in his head, and mine at this point – by the way I love this show too. It makes me laugh out loud many times. Perhaps it is my sense of humor or perhaps the show is really just funny. The kids are nice to each other and even the older sister Candice – whom M-ito has to look away from every time her and Jeremy are getting all lovey-dovey, has some really warm and beautiful moments.)
  • Star Wars the Clone Wars (the first four episodes just came out on DVD and we’ve already watched them two times this week – I also enjoy this show. The animation is very good and original and the stories exciting and well written – though some are way too old for my son and require explaining. More a 10 and up show than a 7 and up. Don’t let the cartoon imagery fool you – it is violent.)
  • Chowder (this show is new and I’m not sure what it is as I haven’t seen it yet. M-ito described it to me as a story about a short fat kid who wears purple all the time – and said, quote – it’s really cool)
  • Pokemon (we both love to watch this also – M-ito because he knows all the Pokemon and wishes he could have one in this world so he could train it and it could be his best friend – and me because it’s interesting, contains strategy tactical development skills – yes I rerally wrote that – perhaps it’s better to jsut say it promotes game playing skills and neat problem solving skills – and pretty good values shown about friendship and teamwork. I have found the card game to be great – really works M-ito’s math skills and the imagery is terrific. The animation is standard on the show and stylized – reminding me of Speed Racer days, but I think the story lines are good considering every show is about a fight between Pokemon. It’s amazing what the writer’s have done with that.)

Shower Power

It’s evening and M-ito has to take a shower. I still shepherd him into the bathroom and wash his hair – though many of M-ito’s friends already wash themselves he’s only partially reached that goal. He mostly laughs while he washes himself, tickling himself and playing all the while oblivious to the T-word, time. His technique for washing his feet is to put the washcloth on the floor, step on the washcloth and move around on it, sometimes dancing the Mexican Hat Dance. It’s ingenious in its own way.

But I digress.

Getting him to take a shower is still a fight. From the moment we tell him he has to take one – at this point only once every three days or twice a week – to the attempt to get him in the bathtub. Once he’s in these days it goes pretty smoothly. I sit back and watch while he showers until it’s hair time, trying not to fall asleep.

But getting him to take his clothes off and actually step into the shower, very similar to the longest ten steps to the front door, is almost impossible. And at 6pm after a long day at work and the commute home, it’s even harder for me. I have little patience left in me and if I’m not in touch with it I’m in big trouble because a yelling match will ensue followed by guaranteed tears. I can tell I’m on empty too. I can feel the gas tank meter knocking on the E and the light on. I can feel the feelings of frustration rise up into my chest and throat from my belly. But sometimes I just can’t do anything about it. It works that way with me.

Two feet from the bathtub… yet so far.

Five minutes of telling me stories about Pokemon and he has finally taken his shirt off.

Another five minutes of telling me about Humphrey the Hamster and his pants go wizzing by over my head while I duck.

Wondering about the nature of Phineas and Ferb and his favorite episode where Doofenshmirtz and Perry the Platipus fence with bratwurst and hotdog ends with his underwear off.

I’m not kidding you. It really goes on this long. The socks, one at a time.

Then he plays with his penis, wondering why it looks sometimes like a tree and sometimes like a rocket, and sometimes just sits there staring back at him, pondering the possibilities. “Dad-dito, what does it think about?”

If I last this long I’m usually steaming by now. If I can’t hold it in anymore I usually yell, “GET IN THE TUB!”

Friday last week this comment made M-ito say, “Why are you so angry at me? You just got home and you’re already yelling. Why?”

My son knows how to get to me. I lowered my head, shook it from side to side and said, “I don’t know.” Other days I add, “I’m  sorry. I’m tired.” Or, “Work with me here, will you?”

What to remember?

  1. My son likes his time with me and when he talks he’s enjoying telling me about what’s important to him. So, even if it seems unimportant to me, I need to remember it’s important to him. His world is Pokemon and Phineas and Ferb. Mine is yoga, HIV/AIDS, and Drug Treatment. One is not more important than the other.
  2. I need to warn him – which sometimes I do – that I’m losing my patience and that I’m tired so he needs to move it a little. This helps me to remain calmer a little longer – staves off the yelling for another minute or two. Letting him know it’s me, not him is a good thing.
  3. Sometimes you just have to let things take a long time. I find I’m always trying to make my son go faster. Why? Whose deadline is it? How important is that we’re on time? What does it mean to be on time? Can we instead be in time? What are we late for? Can it take twenty minutes longer? I have to remind myself to take my time – allow him to take his.
  4. And last but not least, it reminds me that it’s the simple, mundane things that make up being a Dad-dito, not the big things, which come up rarely. Why? Because the small things come up every day. Or in the case of the shower, at least two times a week.

Green Frogs

“Every father should have a favorite animal and a favorite color.” So says my colleague and friend, Big H. said at work. His kids are 20 and 16. The older is a girl and the younger is a boy. I was in his office when he said this to me. He has two shelves filled with green frogs of all sizes and shapes. Some are made of wood. Some are puppets. Some are musical instruments. Some are stuffed animals.

“This way, ” he continues, “your kids always know what to get you. ‘It’s time to look for a new green frog,’ is what I hear them say to my wife every father’s day, and birthday, and holiday.  I used to have a lot more, but I lost them all at the Trade Center.”

I nodded. We both remember that day. He came up out of the subway and went right back home. I got out from the 16th floor with the rest of the staff at work that day. I remember looking for Big H. when two of us cleared the floor, knocking on doors and telling researchers to leave. I had wanted to make sure he left the building with everyone else.

“That’s a great idea,” I said.

For father’s day M-ito gave me a great card with a stick figure of him saying “Hi” on the front and one saying “Bye” on the back. In the center it said, “I hope you have a great day, love M-ito.” I also got a Pokémon pencil which I’d bought him earlier that day at Rite Aide and a small toy orange ninja he’d gotten from a bubblegum machine at the supermarket.

My son said, “I didn’t want that one so I thought you would like it.”

I loved it all.

By the way, my favorite animal is an elephant (satvic, grounded, ganesha-like, wise) and my favorite color is green (heart chakra). I wonder how those two things can go together.

One Hand Clapping

I took M-ito to work with me today. Mom-ita was working, teaching a consulting gig, and out all day. I had work that had to be done so I couldn’t take the day off. We walked to the express station – what is normally a fifteen minute walk – in half an hour. The trains were fast though, and instead of 11am I made it in by 10:15.

He sat in my office for almost three hours, reading a Pokemon Manga and playing games on my iPhone. He’s so good. He even waved, his small, shy, bent-elbow wave, to everyone I introduced him too. They smiled back at him.

We had lunch and walked about twenty blocks downtown to the comics store, Forbidden Planet. I had him avoid all the “adult” sections and the “monster” sections. He bought two ugly dolls with his allowed funds, eyeballing the USS Enterprise model and a Godzilla action figure.

On the R train home, both of us exhausted, nodding a little, I took out a book of Zen Koans I’d been reading (Zen Flesh, Zen Bones) and asked M-ito if he wanted me to read him some stories that were like puzzles.

He said, “Sure.”

I told him the story of the Zen Master who had a young student who wanted to the master to give him a koan to help him to study and learn. The master asked him if he knew the sound of two hands clapping and the student said, “Yes.” Then he asked him, “What’s the sound of one hand?” The student went back and forth over a year coming up with answers like, the wind, an owl hooting, the breath and each time the master said, “No. Come back when you have figured it out.”

Well… I only got to the first time the master asked, “What’s the sound of one hand clapping,” when M-ito interrupted me and said, “there is no sound.” My mouth hung open for a moment. Then I shut it and continued the story, ending at the same place my son had already been to, camped out at, and completed. It took the student a year. It took my son about three seconds.