This week, my daughter had a huge project due that involved research and all kinds of stuff. She was given complete freedom on picking the subject of the project, which always means there's gonna be an interesting result. Her choice, being an awesome 14 yr old geek girl, was pokemon, which has been an obsession of hers for years, often to the chagrin of parents and grandparents. I told her that, if her teacher was cool with it, then so was I.
To make this part of a long story short, her teacher, Grammy, and I helped her kinda hone her topic until she was researching the guy who originally created Pokemon. What she found out about this man has truly helped me understand her so much better.
To give just a tinge of backstory, my daughter is currently a brilliant, incredibly funny (often in that straight man style, much like her momma) teen. She hasn't always been that way. There were times when she was cruel and angry or sometimes even worse. But I'm not going to focus on those times. She has several diagnoses, but it wasn't until her doctor added the term Asperger's, that we were able to find real solutions.
And, as it turns out, the man who created Pokemon, also has Asperger's. His name is Satoshi Tajiri. As a kid, he lived on the outskirts of Tokyo, which was then more of a rural area. As he aged, the city of Tokyo began to sprawl and his rural childhood stomping grounds gave way to concrete. When he was little, he loved collecting bugs and, through Pokemon, he wanted to give kids worldwide the ability to catch and collect bugs the way he had as a kid.
It's funny cause the idea is so simple and so pure, but just that little fact completely changed the way I felt about the game. As I read more about him, I found it difficult to suppress the urge to find and hug him, although, since he's an Aspy, he would probably really hate that (and God knows I'm no hugger either).
Anyway, before he became the Pokemon master, he was a teenager in Japan who became obsessed with video games. In his mind, there was very little else that mattered. His parents thought he was a delinquent. He only graduated from high school by going back and doing makeup classes. His dad even tried to get him a steady job, which he refused. Is this not every parent's nightmare?
But, instead of taking his parent's route, he started his own, hand written and stapled, video game magazine. This led to meeting more people involved in that world and, eventually, to him beginning to design his own games. He worked on various games and built up such a good rep that Nintendo was interested in the original Pokemon games even though they didn't really get the idea.
I'm gonna glaze over the rest because, clearly, Pokemon was and continues to be huge. But, for me, the main message was just to relax. Let my child's future come as it will. Maybe it won't look the way I expect it to... Maybe it won't be simple, or clear, or conventional... But it will be hers. And it will be good.