You've Got to Play by the Rules


A couple of weeks ago, daughter the elder asked if she could buy some Pokemon cards with her allowance. My curiosity was twigged. How did she find out about Pokemon? Her television experience continues to be limited by the fact that we still don't have cable TV and refuse to get it. She does have access to our computers, so she has played some educational games and she -- like daughter the younger -- have fallen under the spell of My Little Pony.

Mind you, this is the same person who, when I explained that I bought a small coffee rather than my usual large because I'd already had plenty of coffee, said, "and you don't want to get so jacked up that you can't sleep!" I can see that school is having a significant impact on her cultural experience.

It's one thing to like princesses and ponies, but to get involved in the powers and the abilities of the various cards -- to understand the value of collecting? That was new. So, I poked at this with questions, and came up with this item: a lot of boys in her class are getting into Pokemon, and playing it whenever free time allows. I suspected that Vivian wanted into that social club.

I agreed to let her use her allowance to buy some Pokemon cards. After all, I collected hockey cards at around her age. Still, I was a little concerned. The kids her age have started pairing up on gender lines. The boy she was best friends with has started to stick around with other boys, and the girls have gathered into their own groups. My daughter's interests are not that gender-structured, and she feels the pain of being excluded, but I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do about it.

We took daughter the elder to a local toy store called Mastermind, where she shunned a pack and instead picked a tin. The packs cost $5.95 and the tins $21. At first glance, the tins only promise about five or so cards -- albeit rare and strong ones. Fortunately, they also come with four regular packs, which makes me feel much less like she's being ripped off. She spent most of yesterday evening sorting through her haul, and she brought the tin to school.

She emerged at the end of school today close to tears. I immediately suspected that the boys had rejected her entry into the Pokemon social club on the fact of her being a girl, but that wasn't it. Rather, she'd been playing soccer-baseball at the gym, and the game hadn't gone well. She'd failed to score, and the game had been lost, and some of the kids had been crowing about winning. That brought back a lot of memories. I took her through the Tim Horton's drive through window. I figured she needed it.

I try to do my best for my daughters. I don't want them to take in some of things that television has to offer. I don't want them to believe that there are things they can't do because they are girls. I don't want them to believe that losing a game is something to be ashamed of. But these are the rules that we play under in this society, it seems. I can advise and guide, but I can't control what goes on among the people my daughters deal with. I can only offer support as my daughters learn how to deal. Hopefully they can find the strength to change the things that should be changed, or the serenity to ignore the things that cannot be changed. That's not up to me.

However, the Pokemon cards did work in getting her into the Pokemon social club. Apparently some of the boys (and the girls who are also involved) are quite impressed by the E-X cards she was able to land. She's proudly holding onto those, while she's traded for some others.

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