Not Grown-Up Grown Up

November 16, 2017

There are very few dads who haven’t properly grown up yet, and my dad is one of them. If my word isn’t enough, then imagine this: an adult you know well (example: family, family friend) says that they downloaded this new game that everyone has strongly divided opinions on- either loving it, or hating it, and you are one of those who hates it. To prove it, they show you. Then, they somehow find an issue with it, and announce that they’re going to delete it- but a few days later, you find them on that game. There’s only so many ways you can describe them then, and one of those is a not grown up grown-up: exactly what my dad is. He’s always been keen to go to amusement parks, often dragging me with him onto giant, creepy roller coasters; the one and only person to object to taking out the trash in my family is him. Then there's the time when he downloaded Pokémon Go...

It was a stuffy summer evening, and Dad and I were hiding indoors from the scorching sun, eating dinner and waiting for my mom to come home from work. I told him about some kids at school chatting about Pokemon Go. “And they were talking about gyms or something, which makes no sense. I don’t think they work out. I think...”
Dad raised an eyebrow. “Pokemon Go, huh? Sounds really popular. I’ve heard some coworkers of mine talking about it too.”
I nodded. Ever since it was released, people had been swarming over it like bees. Every corner I turned in a public area, there always seemed to be somebody tapping furiously at their phone. Once when I was walking along a pier in San Francisco, I saw two teenage kids bent over, eyes glued to their phone screens, paying no attention to a pair of seagulls squawking noisily not far away as they fought over a scrap of food; one whacked the other with its wing, then attempted to fly away, as, unfortunately, the latter stepped on its claw and squawked definitely. What’s more, my cousin, whom had come along with his parents, was also playing the game, which was really annoying because I wasn’t allowed to play on my mom’s phone. Instead, I was stuck watching him collect items from PokeStops and catch some Krabbys and Pidgeys( and transfer half of them away). Boring!
“What’s so cool about it anyway?” Dad’s voice snapped me back to the present, and I shrugged. It wasn’t like I’d had any experience playing it!
“I’ve been thinking,” he continued, a mischievous smile spreading across his face, “about downloading that game. You know, to see what the big fuss is all about.”
My spoon dropped into my bowl with a clatter, and I stared at him in surprise. “You’re crazy! There is nothing cool about that game! Besides, you know how unappreciative Mom is about-”
“It’s fine,” he interrupted, waving his hand nonchalantly like he was batting off my doubt. With that, he whipped out his iPhone and opened a page on the App Store. I watched in silence as he tapped on the Pokemon Go icon in the “Popular” section… then on the blue download button. “Finish your dinner while this loads,” he ordered.

I watched as Dad went through all the beginning pages. Welcome… Privacy Policy… then…
“What the heck?!” he exclaimed suddenly.
I peeked over his shoulder. “ ‘Please sign in the…’ What? What’s the Pokemon Club?”
“Exactly.” Dad frowned. “Or ‘sign up’? Trash!”
“So…” I wondered what he was going to do. Clearly, he wasn’t about to sign up. Maybe he would, but taken his annoyance, it was a slim chance.
“This is pointless,” he declared. “And stupid. I’m done with this. Now go play piano.” I retreated obediently, but slowly. Was that hesitation in his voice?

A few days later, I grabbed his phone, shoved his finger on the Home button, and started to play Coolmath Games.
“Hey!” he protested indignantly. He made a swipe for it, but I dodged.
“I finished all my work,” I pointed out, then stole a peek at the phone screen, which was lagging. Huh. Maybe I should clear some apps from the multitasking view. I double-tapped the Home button, pushed back Dad’s groping hand defiantly, and got rid of one after another, when a certain one caught my eye. There was a blue background, with small lines representing roads. A small figure stood in the middle of the screen, wearing an orange cap and a blue backpack with a Pokeball design on it. I’d seen that screen before watching my cousin play that time in San Francisco…
I felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face. Actually, a bucket of mildly cold water because I wasn’t really that surprised. Dad had done stranger things, and yet he always knew what the better choice was. In this case, he’d chosen the worse one- again. He knew that he shouldn’t lie about trifles like this and overall be a terrible role model, and he clearly didn’t want me to find out.
“Dad!” I groaned, and he laughed nervously. “Well, I never said I was going to delete it…”
“Riiiiiiight. I’ve got a question for you: when are you going to grow up?”

I actually really like the the game now, and I share control of his Pokemon Go account; when he allows it, I catch Pokemon, get items from PokeStops, and fight Gym battles for him. I’ll admit it. I judged the game too harshly. But, of course, Dad learned nothing from the experience. He’s still as kiddish as ever, or, as my mom calls it, ADHD. I guess it’s not all bad, though, because it will encourage you to try new things, even if others don’t want you to do it.






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