Summer is over. I know many moms are out there doing a happy dance because their littles are back in school and they have a couple hours to themselves each day. Although I can appreciate the quiet and find those few uninterrupted hours to be mostly productive, I am one of those weird moms that prefers the sounds of summer.


I say this now that my boys are a bit older. Trust me, when they were younger I was counting the minutes until that first school bell rang. They are now a lot more self-sufficient. Most days they fixed their own breakfast and lunch. I’d help if we happened to converge on the kitchen at the same time but I found they preferred to make their own meals when they were ready to eat. OK by me.


And remember, boys are pretty simple creatures. I joked that if I would allow my boys to be on their iPads with headphones all day, I could’ve gone the whole 10 weeks of summer without seeing or hearing them. I will admit, there were days…


But in my post on May 20thDisconnect and Breathe, I talked about being intentional with forcing myself and my boys to put down the technology each day and live, disconnected. In my June 3rd post, Our Disconnected Summer, I reported that we were off to a good start. A quiet week in the mountains started us off on the right foot. A cash incentive (bribe) for each hundred pages read motivated them to unplug from electronics and plug in with some good books. I’m happy to report that each of my boys read over 1000 pages this summer and the winner (yep, we have winners in this house, it keeps them competitive) read over 2700 pages earning him both the promised $1/hundred-page reward as well as the bonus $25 Amazon gift card. What did they elect to do with their cash rewards? Purchase iTunes gift cards of course. #irony


That was not the biggest irony, however. Turns out the one thing that happened this summer that inspired my kids to put down their X-Box controls and go out and gather the neighborhood kids and take off on bikes and scooters and skateboards was….an electronic game. You might have heard of it? POKÉMON GO!


All of my boys are rugby players and had matches all summer. Every weekend we would travel to a tournament location and spend most of the day there. One Sunday between matches all of the middle school boys were following around one of their teammates like the pied piper. You see, he was the first kid most of the boys knew who had discovered Pokémon Go since its release just days before. When we got back in the car at the end of the day all thy could talk about was Pokémon. Pokémon? Like the card game you played when you were little? What on earth are you talking about?



And then it happened. Pokémon Mania. Over the next few days all the world was buzzing with this new GPS-driven game. Being a female in my 40’s (NOT your videogame demographic) I could not understand the attraction of this game. But my boys were hooked. I started seeing articles online about the dangers of the game. We all heard weird headlines about people walking off cliffs and other dumb things because they would forget to actually lift their head from their phone screen and see the real world around them. I even had a friend who was rear-ended by a car because the driver was playing while driving. BTW, the driver was an adult male. Can’t blame the kids for that one.


I read the warnings, I had the discussions with our boys about being cautious, being alert, staying together, etc. At the end of the day, this Pokémon Go phenomenon was doing what many of us moms had been trying to do for weeks – GET THE KIDS OUTSIDE!


My kids were watching the clock every morning until it was time to go meet the neighborhood kids and other friends and head out to the local parks. With proper motherly warnings, I let them head out farther on their bikes this summer than I’d ever done before. They’d head downtown to Main Street and meet up with other packs of kids and wander around. I’d give them money to treat them to lunch or an ice cream cone and they learned things that we, as a culture, have been remiss in teaching our kids – interpersonal skills, how to interact with adults without a parent present to remind them to say please and thank you, and even how to manage and keep track of money. Like the old days when I grew up in this same town, parents were also reporting back to each other “I saw your kids downtown. They were polite and said hello.” Huh!


So while it’s true that this Pokémon Go game is played while interacting with a phone screen, I found the side effects of the game to be really positive for my kids. Wanting our boys to experience summers the way we did as kids, a carefree exploration of our town on bikes and scooters, we supported their infatuation with Pokémon creatures because it caused them to want to get out, to meet up with friends, and even to learn their way around town. I can’t tell you how many times before this summer I have asked my kids “You know that building we pass, or that street we drive on” and they would look at me blankly. Now, they have some idea which direction things are in our town, the best ways to get around our surrounding neighborhoods, etc.


So did we disconnect and breathe this summer? No and Yes.


School is back in, new routines are being established and for now the Pokémon game takes a back seat to studying and sports. But I’m grateful for the experiences my boys had this summer. It felt more like the old days and I loved seeing my boys excited to get out, hang with their friends, and enjoy an ice cream cone from the Meadowlark Dairy. It made this hometown girl’s heart full as I remembered the joy of summers as a kid and the way things used to be.