Tuesday Tales: What Pokémon taught me this week – Donna Thistlethwaite

Anyone else seeing way more Pokémon Cards than they’d like to? That’s been me lately but today I want to acknowledge an unexpected positive that the cards brought with them …

Our 12 year old son, Matt, has seriously been bitten by the Pokémon craze. They’re everywhere – all over our kitchen bench, in the hallways, on the coffee table … practically everywhere I look I see 6cm x 8cm cards adorned with colourful images and blue and yellow Pokémon branding.

It’s been interesting to watch Matt at work. Until very recently Matt hadn’t purchased a single Pokémon card but somehow he managed to build his collection to 400+ cards. He tells me that he’s been ethically acquiring the cards and I certainly hope that’s true. Maybe those dreamy blue eyes influenced people to give him the starter cards and then helped him to trade his way to quite the collection.

For his birthday a couple of months back Matt asked for a display book and a couple of card packs. He spends hours arranging and re-arranging the cards. I’ve never seen him so engaged in an activity and it’s helped me to rise above the annoyance that sometimes comes up when I see them scattered all over our island bench.

One morning last week Matt approached as I was wrangling our morning routine. He thrust the display book in front of me and flicked it open at one page, then another. He kept flicking through pointing out empty plastic windows that he said used to contain Pokémon cards.

“What do you think happened to these cards Mum?” he asked. “I don’t know mate, did you lose them?” “No mum, I gave them to Ryder”, he replied.

Nine year old Ryder is one of Matt’s school mates and the two of them formed a “Pokémon Club” a couple of months back. The Club seems to involve the two of them pooling their cards and trading with other students at their small independent, democratic, school.

Matt explained that he had inadvertently traded some cards that Ryder had not wanted to part with. He had handed over some of the cards in his collection (the empty pockets) to Ryder during the discussions to resolve this issue.

Matt said “We now have permission to trade.” I was intrigued. “How did you and Ryder come up with this arrangement?” I asked, eye brows raised. Matt confessed that they had actually put some rules in place when they set up the Club but that he had forgotten about the permission to trade which involves checking in with the other person before trading a card from their collection.

As I listened to Matt I was impressed by the ability of these two children to communicate their needs, negotiate a solution, and create a system to avoid further potential conflict. In all earnestness I said to Matt “Mate you two have done something that many adults don’t seem to be able to do.”

Lately, I have witnessed quite a few people, many of whom I know and respect, respond to others having done something they didn’t agree with, or appreciate, by effectively packing up their toys and going home. I don’t really understand this … maybe it’s linked to the abandonment issues I talked about last week.

While I know that some behaviour is inappropriate and should never be accepted, it seems to me that people are sometimes harsh judges of others and could really do with being more forgiving of their fellow humans.

We are all so imperfect but I honestly believe that most of us are just doing our best with what we have at a point in time. Many of us have full lives. Many of us are reacting through our personal filters which often include trauma. Many of us haven’t had great communication skills modelled for us and lack the skills or confidence to navigate the complexities of relationships and life in our contemporary world.

How cool would it be to live in a more tolerant world? One where we give each other the benefit of the doubt, one where we forgive easily and accept each other’s imperfections?

What do you think? Is there anything you can do to foster this culture in your networks? Are there new skills you’d like to develop in this space?

If you, or someone you know, is interested in enhancing your communication skills, I can highly recommend Compassionate Communication (aka NVC). If you’re in Brisbane, Cate Crombie regularly runs this training at the Relaxation Centre. My industry colleague, Julie Gillespie, has a fabulous podcast called Conversations with Julie that also tackles this important topic.

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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