Maré's Game Time Logo[GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo follows up his report of Nintendo's Pokémon Black & White Tour with a sweet, touching reflection on being a parent and watching your children grow up. Special guest artwork supplied by Maré Odomo.]

I Wanna Be the Very Best

If you were kind enough to read my write-up of the Pokémon Black & White mall tour, you’d know that my family loves Pokémon in all shapes and forms. In fact, my son Kazuo even sees our family structure as if it were straight out of the Pokémon animated series. He has decided that he is Ash, his sister Yoshie is Pikachu, Missus Raroo is Misty, and I’m Brock.

Kaz recently celebrated his fourth birthday. He is now at the age where he has the attention span to focus on video games, and we have been enjoying Pokémon Black together, usually playing a little bit before bed every night.

It’s a very sweet bonding experience. We brush our teeth and change into our pajamas, then climb into bed and snuggle next to one another, hoping to encounter some new Pokémon that we’ve never seen before. Often he gets to stay up past his bedtime because his enthusiasm and excitement are just too adorable for me to resist.

The Raroos According to Kaz

Sometimes as I lay there next to Kaz a thought will pop into my head: Being a parent is kind of like being a Pokémon trainer. Children’s development hinges in large part upon the time and effort their parents are willing to put in, which parallels Pokémon and their trainers.

There are some parents and Pokémon trainers alike that pour countless amount of attention on their favorite little monsters, while others would rather just drop them off at daycare as long as possible and let someone else do the work. As with Pokémon, children excel in different areas, and parents need to recognize and appreciate the unique strengths of their children and help foster their development accordingly.

Though training Pokémon can be tiring, raising children can be downright exhausting. Parenting is a job that doesn’t ever stop—at least, it is if you actually care about being a parent. I can’t simply put Kaz away into a Pokéball and forget about him when I’m feeling burnt out. The closest thing I can do is hope he’ll entertain himself for a little while with his toys (or, when I’m really lazy, his favorite television shows). Being a parent is hard work, and I know I’m far from perfect.

I make a lot of mistakes as a parent. Sometimes I raise my voice at my kids, and on rare occasions I even throw in the towel and let my son and daughter get away with being naughty because I’m too tired to put up a fight. I’ve been a parent for a little over four years now, yet there are times I still feel like an absolute beginner. Each day is a learning experience, and the most I can do is try not to repeat my blunders.
I Wanna Be the Very Best!
But, despite my shortcomings, I take my role as a dad to heart and I’m very involved in my kids’ development, and that counts for a lot. And, thankfully I’m not alone. My wife is a great teammate, and together we pick up each other’s slack. If Kaz and Yoshie are our little Pokémon, we’re doing our best to get them ready to take on the top challenges that await them as they journey forward in their lives. I know I’m not a perfect parent, but that’s not going to stop me to keep striving to be. I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was!

I Want To Be a Hero

Independence is crucial to children, even when they don’t necessarily have the means to be as independent as they’d like to be. There is a heartwarming scene in the movie Lilo and Stitch that demonstrates this point perfectly. Young Lilo goes with her big sister Nani to the local pound to adopt a dog (which turns out to be Stitch—spoiler!). When Nani makes a move to pay the two dollar adoption fee, Lilo becomes infuriated and yells at her sister, “I wanna do it!” She then whispers to Nani, “Can I borrow two dollars?”

Missus Raroo and I often reference this scene whenever we see Kaz asserting his independence. As much as he sometimes thinks he’s doing something all by himself, at this point in his life he usually still needs our help and guidance. But, to be fair, our job as parents is to teach our kids to be independent and make smart decisions that will allow them to survive on their own.

In that sense, it’s a good thing that Kaz is trying so hard to do things by himself. He’s learning the skills necessary to one day be self-sufficient. All the same, it makes me feel sad to hear him say he doesn’t want my help, and though I try to smile and let him know that’s fine, part of me wants to just pick him up and give him a big hug, never letting go.

It’s for this reason that I cherish the special times we share together, such as playing Pokémon Black each night before bed. I’m not worried about rushing through the game, beating all the Gym Leaders and catching every Pokémon. To me, it’s all about being in the moment and finding happiness in seeing my son’s eyes get wide with amazement and hearing him yell out a triumphant “Yes!” when we capture a Pokémon or beat a particularly tough rival trainer. Pokémon Black is a great game in its own right, but it’s all the better with my little Pokémon trainer at my side.

The Journey Continues

The Journey Continues

Things change over time, but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing. While I miss holding Kaz when he was a newborn baby, newborns can’t play Pokémon with their dads the way four year olds can.

Even as I write this, I know that many of the things Kaz currently admires about me may become things he’s embarrassed about down the road. Bragging that “Yes, my Dad plays Pokémon!” might quickly turn into an ashamed admittance of “Yeah, my Dad… plays Pokémon.” All the same, I hope that somewhere in Kaz’s heart he will always think of me as a hero, as someone who will champion for him and be there when he needs me.

Life is fleeting and fragile. But that’s also what makes life so amazing. It will be sad when the day comes that Kaz and I no longer fight off sleep just so we can try to catch just one more Pokémon, but at least I will always hold those memories in my heart. And besides, who knows what other adventures Kaz and I will get into as time goes on?

No matter what his interests may be, I have a feeling that the whole Raroo family will follow suit in support. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy and appreciate just how lucky I am to have such an incredible little Pokémon trainer for a son.

Sweet Dreams, Little Pokémon Trainer

[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and pets. He loves playing Pokémon with his son before bed. You may reach Mister Raroo at mister.raroo@gmail.com. For all your Game Time With Mister Raroo needs, visit Club Raroo!]

[Maré Odomo is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist living in Seattle, WA. He enjoys long StreetPasses on the beach, and reading comics by candlelight. His website is mareodomo.com, but he doesn't update it as often as his flickr or tumblr. He also tweets a lot.