My eldest son, who is currently six, has very recently gained an unceasing craving for wanting Pokemon cards. He currently has a total of one card (which a friend gave to him), but to him it is more valuable than gold. But here’s the thing: He knows virtually nothing about Pokemon. He hasn’t seen any of the shows, hasn’t played any of the video games, hasn’t read any of the books, and hasn’t even played the Pokemon card game. Yet, these cards are the coolest thing in the world to him right now.
He first saw Pokemon cards at a friend’s house. I remember him looking at them and thinking they were cool, but I didn’t really hear any talk from him about them. But recently, his friends came over to our place, and one of them brought their 3-ring binder full of cards. They looked at them for hours (which is interesting because it is meant to be a game, and they never once played the game). My son was devouring all the information about these cards that his friends were telling him. All this talk like, “whoa, this one has 190 attack power”, “this one can regenerate while attacking”, “this one is an EX and those are way better”, “this one is legendary”, “this one is really rare”, etc. And, anyone who has kids knows that they love to tell you boatloads of information about things you know (and sometimes care) nothing about, so we have had more than an earful of information about these cards told to us.
Now, of course, he wants his own. These things, at retail, cost about $4.99 for a pack of 10 cards. He has a total of $9 or so, which he has been talking for a while now about saving up for a specific lego set that he really wants (which is about $40). But now that Pokemon is on the radar, and his obsession has gone wild, all sights on the lego set have vanished. Last night he said to my wife as he was being kissed goodnight, “mom, can we go shopping tomorrow? I just really want to go shopping.” He never volunteers the idea to go shopping – he obviously is wanting to go buy Pokemon cards.
The interesting thing as a parent, is that we want to help our children learn to make good decisions, but we can’t make all of their decisions for them. In this case, he has an obsession over these cards, which are a game, and he knows nothing about the theme (Pokemon), and has never even played the game (nor has he expressed an interest in actually playing the game). The value that he sees in these things like “attack power”, some “EX” classification, the cards “special abilities”, etc. means absolutely nothing outside of the context of playing the game. So, it seems, he just wants these cards because of the appeal of having your own so that he can look at them from time to time and keep them on his dresser.
In this case, what would you suggest? One side of my reasoning wants to tell him “no” to these things as they are a waste of money and seem to provide nothing really to do other than look at them. He has already set a goal to save for something he’s wanted for a long time, and he will never achieve it if he continually spends his money on things that he can afford at the time and provide instant gratification. I think the obsession may fade quickly considering how fast it came to be. On the other side, maybe I shouldn’t care as much about how useless I personally see these cards for him and allow him to spend his money how he wants (within reason of course) and see first-hand the benefits of saving, and what it’s like to have spent all your money and can’t afford something when a good opportunity arrises.
Would really like to hear your thoughts!