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L Is for Literature

Pokmon Infestations and Other Matters

GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL, or PARENTING THE POSTMODERN CHILD: While strolling the aisles in the grocery store, did you ever wonder why anyone in their right mind would buy a box of Pokmon facial tissue? I bought one last week, so I can tell you. Because I had already refused Peter's requests to buy Pokmon popsicles, Pokmon gummis, and several other Pokmon products which infest the grocery story. As we speak, I am within about an inch of rounding up all the Pokmon products in the house and consigning them to a plastic bag in the top of the closet. As nearly as I can tell, it is the goal of Pokmon marketers to place multiple Pokmon products in every aisle of the grocery store. I don't think they've made it to the produce aisle or the meat section (actually, there are probalby Pokmon chicken nuggets, though Peter hasn't brought them to my attention), but at this point I would not be surprised to find Pokmon dish washing detergent.

What precipitates this fuming on my part is that our evening was spoiled last night by Pokmon: we went grocery shopping and although I think I turned down about ten other Pokmon products, I said yes to Pokmon macaroni and cheese (a Kraft product). Peter had a total meltdown because I would not open the package instantly when we got home and cut out the collectible Pokmon coins on the back of the box. Somewhere out there someone is shaking their head and saying now here is a mother who just can't say no, but I did say no, over and over again. Consistency someone is muttering. We very consistently refuse to buy any toys or videos in the grocery store. So why did I buy Pokmon tissues? Because we actually needed tissues, and it didn't seem to me that buying Pokmon tissues would do any harm. And I bought the macaroni and cheese because he actually ate the Kraft macaroni and cheese we bought last time.

Now, despite my strong desire to establish a concentration camp for the cute but violent little creatures in the top of my closet, I'm not going to do it, not because I'm a wimpy parent who can't say no, but rather because it wouldn't do any good. Even if I succeeded in banishing Pokmon from my home, its scarcity would only make Peter desire it more. My son has excellent visual comprehension and my husband's collector's attention span for things he's really interested in. And if even I vanquish Pokmon, there's Scoobydoo, Yu-gi-oh!, Rescue Heroes, Blues Clues. Peter has an acute perception of fads and a pragmatic understanding of their role in the Westchester children's social web. Fads are what kids talk about and how they know who their friends are.

Rather, somehow I have to empower him to walk through the valley of the shadow of commerce without feeling that his very social existence hangs on whether he goes home with Pokmon macaroni and cheese. This is much harder than just saying no.

Why do marketers do this to Kindergartners? They are doing it on purpose. Because it pays. Creeps.

What I will probably do about the grocery store problem is to establish a rule that we do not buy food with recognizable cartoon characters on the package; I'm going to try that, though it may be difficult to enforce as tie-in marketers make new incursions into the grocery store.

ANYWAY, we went to Pleasantville Day yesterday. We got going too late for pancake breakfast because of small matters like paying bills and filing medical claims from the doctors' office receipts I'd been hoarding in my purse. It was a sunny but slightly chilly day. Elizabeth, in the stroller, slept through most of it. I managed not to come home with a goldfish. (Some outfit has a throwing game with live fish as prizes. I think they go up the street to Petland Discounts and buy a couple hundred feeder goldfish which cost about  five cents each and them let kids win them. Conscientious parents then have to go out and buy about twenty bucks worth of fish tank. The pet store in the center of town, which is not party to this, always has a run on fish supplies on Pleasantville Day.) Peter went on the merry-go-round and through the inflatable castle. I think his favorite part was the dance demonstration by students from a local dance school. Peter, who is very responsive to music, and is a pretty good dancer for an uncoordinated 5-year-old, danced along from the sidelines. He particularly liked their finale; he described the music as being like the "theme song to Power Rangers." Peter likes theme songs. Also, I saw something I'd never seen before: a father using his cellphone to video his daughter's dance performance. I think it was a Korean model. He said it holds half an hour of video.

The volunteer firemen were giving rides on the fire engine. But Peter never did get to ride on the fire engine even though we stood in line twice. As Peter explained, When I'm in line I don't want to be there. But when the fire engine comes I just want to be first in line.

Peter now has enough self-awareness to know that he was overstimulated and so didn't want to go to the Strawberry festival after lunch. Instead, he played in the yard with they neighbor kids, who were just discovering the interesting properties of the invisible swingset. Because swings hang from a rope rather than a fixed bar, kinetic energy transfers from one swing to the next quite fluidly. By the end of the day, the kids an I somehow ended up slightly sunburned.

We have some interesting wildflowers in the area of the circle of stumps. The jack-in-the-pulpit is in bloom, as are lots of little violets (and  of course dandylions).

The weirdest wildflower that grows around here is indian pipe, a plant that contains no chlorophyll. It's about the right time of year for them, but I haven't seen any yet this year. They grow under piles of leaves and eventually poke through. Until I looked them up a few years ago, I didn't know there were any flowering plants that didn't have chlorophyll.

There seem to be morrell mushrooms growing on our front lawn, but I'm not very confident in my knowledge of mushroom, so I don't think I'll cook them. The late Tad Dembinsky (formerly of the NYRSF staff), who knew a lot about mushrooms, was very enthusiastic about the mushrooms that grow in our yard. 

Also, I think we have a patch of goldenseal. In a doctor's office waiting room in the winter I was reading an article in a magazine, I think it was a National Geographic, about how scarce wild goldenseal was becoming, and I looked at the picture, and thought so that's what that stuff is.

I'm going to rake some leaves today  and see if I can find the indian pipe coming up. I wish we had a digital  camera so I could go around the yard snapping close-ups of these things.

POKMON UPDATE: Peter's first words to me this morning were after you get out of the bath will you please cut out my Pokmon coins? So far, I'm getting by on changing the subject. I think he may be having Pokmon maracroni and Cheese for breakfast so I can get this subject out of my life.

Yes, I know the South Park solution; even Peter knows the South Park solution  (pretend that we groupups think Pokmon is really cool so that the kids will move on to the next fad). But it wouldn't work: 5-year-olds still think their parents are cool. It would just make me an easy mark for all the other fads.

MEANWHILE: Elizabeth is trying to learn the art of knocking over piles of books.