Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm not bossy: I'm a leader

Alison and I got on our bikes this morning about 10:30 and didn't wheel back home until 1 o'clock. In between, we bought my Sunday NY Times, pedaled into Broad Ripple, over to the Keystone Target, back to Northside News for lunch and over to the Fresh Market.

It was a great time, during which we pondered many things. Among them, Alison's favorite flavors: bubble gum, grape, cherry, banana, mango, blueberry, green apple and strawberry.

"One day, Mom, I got a hold of some watermelon Laffy Taffy," she said in a voice of doom. "It was THE worst flavor. Ever. Ugh."

I could almost see her bike tremble as she shuddered.

We moved on to Pokemon cards -- Pokemon was the inspiration for her trip. She's been having a $5 week, and she and her dad had lost out on their eBay bid for a huge cache of Pokemon cards. She's been pining for a Regigias -- and it was within the eBay collection. Since they lost the auction, she's been itching to spend her allowance on a brand new box that offers Regigias as the headliner.

On our way to Target, she was detailing the virtues of different Pokemon and her dreams of having more full evolvages for her favorite characters. She and her buddy Alex (and Hannah to a less passionate level) play Pokemon a lot, but they don't exactly follow the rules. (oh, yeah: there are rules and it's a huge, convoluted crazy set of 'em, too.)

She was telling Jeff the other day how at camp, she'd traded a little girl a Raquaza for a Rhyperior, Level X. She'd given the girl an Evie and got back her Raquaza.

"That was one sweet deal, Dad," she said.

I was about to launch into a discussion of being fair (regardless of the commodity, getting fleeced is getting fleeced and I'm not really trying to raise a con artist) when Jeff launched into a discussion of why this card was more valuable than that card and maybe the girl had understood the game better.

"Well, Dad, it's true that some people actually read the fine print and follow the rules," she said. "But me and Alex? We don't play that way."

For the uninitiated, each Pokemon card tells you the power its character holds. So if you have one with a power of 30, it'll be toppled by one with a greater power. Apparently the fine print tells you what the character gives up when using it's power. So, a character with a power of 90, who loses 40 points if he/she engages in battle, really has a power of 50.

If, of course, you bother with such nuance as the rules of the game.

"But Ali, what if you play with someone who actually takes the time to read the rules and follow them?" asked Jeff, who has actually read more than a sentence of Hoyle's rules.

"Well, I just tell them that this is how I play and if they want to play, we follow my rules," she said.

"Do people ever refuse to play by your rules," I ask.

"No," she said. "No they don't."

How do you compete against that? Shouldn't you have to learn and follow the rules before you decide how to work on the edges? Is she learning skills that will let her succeed in whatever path she chooses? Or is she going to be the next Bernie Madoff?

Maybe Catholic school will save her.

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