Our kids wanted to build their Pokémon figure collection faster than we could afford, but since they played with them so much, we wanted them to have as many as they wanted. So, when Max, my 10 year old, had the idea to start printing them out, we were thrilled. The kids could have their cake and eat it too.
I have never regretted anything more in my life. Oliver, my little one was just a little over 2 yrs old when this started, and he’s 3.5 now, so it’s been nearly a year and a half. I’m not kidding, every single day of the majority of his little life, he has asked us to print several Pokémon characters for him. It’s almost always the first thing that comes out of his adorable mouth when he wakes up, right after, “Good morning.”
Here’s why it is a living nightmare:
1. He’s a toddler, and he talks like a toddler. It can be a challenge to understand his words already. Add that to the fact that Pokémon names are A) completely made up, and B) often complicated, and you see the problem. It’s really freaking hard to understand who he’s asking for, and he gets so frustrated when he can’t communicate with us. For instance, when asking for a Pokémon named “Seviper”, and Oliver pronounced it “See-sigh-sir”. Or one named “Gigolith” that he prounounced “geff-oh-lex”. There have been many tears shed over this by both parties. Luckily, my 10 year old is pretty good at translating, but sometimes even he can’t figure it out.
2. It doesn’t take long for him to color them, and then it’s time for me to cut them out. It doesn’t afford for much time with him distracted. However, just recently his cutting skills have advanced, and he can sometimes cut them out without decapitating or dismembering them now. Which brings me to my next point.
3. His favorite toys are made of paper. Paper is not indestructible. It rips and tears (or he cuts a part on accident), it gets crumpled and creased, or it gets wet. I am constantly having to repair the darn things, or reprint them when are beyond repair. If I reprint one, he always asks for others. It’s like giving a pig a pancake.
4. He’s a toddler, and he’s unreasonable like a toddler. If you go to print the Pokémon he asks for, and he sees a picture of another (which almost always happens), he’ll add that one to the list of “wants”. Or sometimes changes his mind and only wants the new one. If you’ve already hit print, and out comes the one he originally asked for, but no longer wants, he becomes very offended. And when Oliver is offended, earplugs and body armor are advised.
Here’s why we do it:
1. He loves the godforsaken things. They really are his favorite toy. He sleeps with them, he plays with them in the car. They provide endless hours of entertainment, not to mention that he uses his creativity to color, and he’s learned to use scissors before preschool.
2. It promotes communication between Oliver and his family. We are constantly talking about Pokémon (whether we like it or not), and we talk about what he wants and need. He’s learning how to advocate for himself… ’cause, you know toddlers are usually such pushovers…
3. The memorization! There are over 600 Pokémon, and Oliver knows a seriously impressive number of them, if not the majority. He not only knows their names, but what “type” they are (like water, rock, fire, grass, psychic, etc. type), what their “evolved” forms are (for instance, “Bulbasaur” evolves into “Ivysaur”, and “Ivysaur” evolves into “Venosaur”), and what moves they use (“Pikachu” uses thundershock, “Dusknoir” uses shadowball, “Noctowl” uses foresight, etc.). Oliver is like a little walking, talking Pokémon encyclopedia.
4. I like to see a kid passionate about something. Even if it’s Pokémon. I think it’s good for kids to dive in and fully immerse themselves in something they’re interested in.
I have to admit that I’d possibly enjoy it more if he had this level of interest in and knowledge of dinosaurs or the animal kingdom. It would certainly impress friends and family members more. But, I’m glad he’s found something he loves.
So, do I recommend that people print paper Pokémon, or other paper “toys” for their kids? I don’t know. Would Alice recommend someone go down the rabbit hole? I’m sure she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but would she recommend it to others…