According to my teenage son, I ruin everything. (And if you have a kid between the ages of say, oh, 11 and 18, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, too.)
But since I’m just so good at it, here’s my guide to ruining the latest thing your teen (and every other kid in the world) is currently obsessed with right now: Pokémon Go.
Step 1. Appear overly interested.
First of all, you want to be really fascinated by what your tween or teen is doing every time you glance over at their phone and see that the game is afoot. You’ll want to exclaim something like, “Oh goody! Is it Pokétime?” Adolescents just love it when you use Poke-as a prefix, so do this as often as possible.
Step 2. Ask as many irritating questions as possible.
Be sure to get real inquisitive anytime you and your kid are walking around in some public place and he or she is playing the game.
Are we going on a Pokéwalk?
Can you take the Pokédog? For a quick turn around the Pokéblock?
Look! Poképeople! Do you know them? HI POKEKIDS! ARE YOU HAVING POKÉFUN TODAY?
See? We are having so much Pokéfun already.
I also like to ask many of my questions in a hushed voice, so as not to disturb the creatures we are hunting. According to my son — who claims he has told me this “a hundred times” — you don’t have whisper when approaching a Pokémon; but this doesn’t even make sense. You’re trying to sneak up and capture a tiny monster by tossing balls at it, for heaven’s sake! Honestly, if you were a Rattata, would you just sit around watching while people walk up and throw balls in your face? No, you would not. Sometimes when we’re on a Pokéwalk and we’re getting close to one, I even tiptoe.
Step 3. Try to get involved in their game.
If you kid tolerates the tippy-toe, it’s time to start pestering. You know how to pester because, well, you have a kid. “Can I throw the ball? Why not? I can totally do it! I can so! Can I do one? How many do you have? Why won’t you share, then?” You get the picture. Wear them down, because my son let me do it once and it’s actually kind of fun.
Say you’re talking to your kid about something very important, like your thoughts on the laundry situation on his bedroom floor, or maybe the importance of good manners when addressing your parents. There’s a good-to-excellent chance that your adolescent is going to sneak a look at his phone. When this happens, jump right out in front of it and start waving your arms around like you’re performing an interpretive dance. Say, “Did I catch one? Am I doing it? Am I hugging him right now? Which one is it? Can I hold it? Am I holding it?” WARNING: If your child is an absolutely terrible person with no accounting whatsoever for how he was raised, he will take your picture and Snapchat it to ev-er-y single person he knows before you can say Pikachu.
Step 4. Bring up the potential whereabouts of a Pokémon at every possible moment.
Speaking of Pikachu, be sure to ask your kid several times a day what Pokémon are in the area. If he won’t tell you, just ask after the Pokémon by names. You don’t know any Pokémon names? All the better! Just guess! “Is there a Hornswaggle? Sludgewaffle? Nosetooter? Pooshooter?” This is great fun for both you and your adolescent (OK, maybe just for you — for your kid, it’s the opposite of fun) and more often than not results in an enthusiastic response (by which I mean an exasperated answer that you will not even hear because you are snort-laughing at yourself).
Step 5. Just start playing the game on your own. (Because let’s be honest, you know you want to.)
If all this fails, download Pokémon Go on your own phone and have at it. Nothing kills a teenage boy’s interest in something faster than “the moms” thinking it’s cool. Make sure you tell him, “Be back in an hour. Aunt Theresa and I are going to take back the Yellow Gym and Mrs. Klepner said she knows where the Pidgeys are. Ta-ta!”’