Friday, November 29, 2019

Being supportive of a new hobby

In the last couple of months, my son has picked up collecting Pokemon cards.

It's not just him. It's his entire second grade class. Boys. Girls. All of them walk to school clutching a binder that doesn't include schoolwork, yet includes pages and pages of Pokemon.

I gotta say, props to Pokemon for being able to appeal to kids. This isn't an indictment on sports cards. I think we all know that fewer and fewer kids collect and that this is a "grown ups hobby," despite what the hobby puppeteers say on Twitter about how packed with kids card shows are or when that kid who works for Topps pops up on Twitter. Had to hide Tweets from that account, I won't lie.

My son is more into Pokemon cards than anything I've ever seen him show an interest in. He talks about them 24/7, in the same way I did about cards when I was younger. I get home from work, and he doesn't even greet me. He just says "Dad, you won't believe this trade I made today" and then he goes on to say a bunch of things I don't understand.

It actually reminds me of being younger and showing my dad a stack of Fleer cards, and they'd put in a "Flair preview" and I remember him holding it and going, "wow, this is how cards are now. Aren't they nice?" in response to the imagery and cardstock and design. I appreciated that.
While I selfishly wish it was something I relate to a bit more, I do appreciate his enthusiasm and dedication. I had never seen him stick to a hobby for this long. He spends hours pouring over and organizing his binder. He has a digital collection on the online game (something again, shunned by sports card collectors...GASP digital cards!), and he watches YouTube videos of people opening packs.

It's been a bit challenging for me to not try and put my imprint on his collecting. I've found myself sometimes saying "want a pack of baseball cards too?" when we're at Target and he's having a hard time deciding what sort of Pokemon pack to buy. I've tried giving him trade advice, such as "it's ok to trade three dupes for one card you want in return." As a parent, it'a always natural to try and push your kid into what interests YOU. Would I rather come home and him show me the Aaron Judge card he just traded for? Yes, but that's because it's something I can relate to. But I'm trying to refrain.

Being a parent is often about letting your kid find their own path and interests, and supporting them along the way.

Sometimes my wife and I roll our eyes at how nerdy it all seems, but then I always try and take a step back and remember that I, a grown man, collect baseball cards. So maybe I'm the real nerd. Just because it's sports doesn't make it less nerdy. We're all nerds, and I think we know that.

I'm just happy he's found something he's passionate about, for now. It's going to make Christmas shopping quite a bit easier, that's for sure.

This post is to remind myself to remain supportive. Maybe it'll turn into sports card collecting. Maybe he'll grow out of it next year and his binders will collect dust. Whatever it is, I enjoy seeing his passion for his new hobby, and the fact that it's helping me grow as a parent by not trying to steer him one way or another, and letting him collect the way he wants to.

And regardless of my effort, I don't think I'll ever understand the names of the characters or how to play or what card is what.


  1. I love seeing Pokemon posts. Glad to hear your son has found something he enjoys collecting... and that he has classmates to trade with.

  2. Glad to see your son is collecting cards and is so passionate about them. I had a brief stint in the early 2000s of collecting Yu-Gi-Oh cards because of my younger brother, but I never got into Pokemon.

  3. Collecting is collecting and if he gets the joy out of it that you do with sports cards - nothing to complain about there. Curious though - is it just collecting, or does he have an interest to learn the game as well?

  4. My daughter is in third grade and I haven't heard anything about Pokemon from her, might be interesting to ask her. I know Al the street vendor (37th & 6th) sells a lot more Pokemon than he does anything else. Might be a good place for a gift for Junior (I have no idea if what he has is any good or not).

    1. I asked her, she said the boys in her class all collect Pokemon but not the girls.

  5. I remember briefly being into this game when I was a kid but none of my friends knew how to play so we were just showing off the monsters we saw and liked from the show. Nice to know that the game is still going strong after all these years though.

  6. "Being a parent is often about letting your kid find their own path and interests, and supporting them along the way." Right on, AJ! My daughters are in 2nd and 4th grade and they've got their own hobbies/ interests/ obsessions, but I've seen my youngest get into Pokemon a little bit and I would often pick up a dollar store pack for her when I bought sports cards. But I don't think she's into them nearly as much as your son!

  7. I first started teaching in 1999. Pokemon was a big deal. It's still a big deal today. Like you, I do not fully understand it, but I am impressed at how much the students who enjoy the show and cards know about all the little critters. I am also amazed that the people who make those cartoons and cards have kept it relevant and fresh for kids.

  8. When I was in kindergarten through 4th grade I collected Pokemon, but then I turned to baseball cards and haven't looked back. I'm 13 and me and my brother were two out of the three kids out of 40 adults at the Local card show. That's the direction that our hobby is moving.

  9. I was into Pokémon cards when I was a kid, I also played the GameBoy color games and watched the cartoon G. show. I was also into sports cards, but I liked the Pokémon world. It was fantasy. It allowed you to escape the real world and dive into a fantasy world of beasts and magic. Eventually I grew out of it and came to cards.

    Anyhow, awesome to hear that your son is passionate about collecting. “Collecting,” no matter what you collect, teaches many lessons. Maturity, economics, value, responsibility, and so on.