Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?

Zak's older cousins sent him the little custom binder they used to use to store their Pokemon cards. He was very excited about this, and immediately put his entire card collection in it. That's entire as in not just Pokemon cards, but also baseball, basketball and football.

As we were walking into church this morning, I was surprised to see Zak's new binder in his hand. "I forgot I was holding it," was his rather unconvincing excuse when I took it from him. Fortunately it was small enough that I could quietly conceal it with my Bible and not have to explain what I was doing with it.

Zak knew he wasn't supposed to take his toys places they didn't belong. He'd been scolded before for smuggling little goodies that fit easily into pants pockets to school.

I really freaked him out one morning when I saw that he had stuffed some cards into his backpack. I just took them out and didn't say anything. He sheepishly told me that night that he had lost them, and was amazed when I produced them along with a stern warning not to do it again. I never did tell him how I got them -- nothing wrong with your children thinking you just might have supernatural powers.

What's interesting to me is that I did the same thing when I was his age. I actually remember getting into trouble one summer for bringing things like a little plastic chimp from a Barrel of Monkeys and a Matchbox car on the bus to summer camp and not letting other kids play with them.

What's the explanation for this behavior? I can't exactly recall my own motives, but it's probably a fair guess that I wanted attention. Of course I couldn't let the other kids play with the toys I brought, because then I would no longer have the attention that came with those toys. There was a little cruelty and selfishness in this approach, too.

I don't sense the same intentions in Zak. Of course, when I ask him why I typically get the standard "I don't know" (quivering lower lip optional). Sometimes when he manages to get cards past our morning security check he tells me very excitedly at the end of the day that he'd traded cards with another kid. They seem like honest trades where both parties leave happy, too. Not like when Scott Bulgaro talked me out of my O.J. Simpson rookie card. But I digress.

Unlike the young me, I think Zak's motives are more altruistic. Or at least more inclusive. If he's trading cards, that means other kids are bringing theirs. I don't think Zak's trying to stand out as much as he may be trying to fit in -- just finding something to do with his friends.

Part of the reason I don't want him taking stuff other than school supplies to school is that he already sturggles to stay focused sometimes. I'm afraid knowing he had an action figure in his backpack would be too much for him, and said action figure would come out at an inappropriate time. But maybe getting to bring his trading cards could be an incentive instead -- something for Zak to look forward to at recess and lunch.

I guess it's worth a try when he goes back to school next month. But right now, I need to decide if I'm going to accept Pastor Corey's offer of two Articunos and a pack of Big League Chew for Zak's Ancient Mew. I guess that binder wasn't COMPLETELY hidden...

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