Growing up. It’s scary to think that one day, the tiny baby you hold in your arms will be as much of an adult as you are. They’ll have experienced many of the things you have, and will have an independent personality of their own. And it’s terrifying.

Realising just how much they’ll change is also a good reminder to make the most of the present. I already miss the tiny baby stage. Trying to hold the 8 month old who seems to want to leap from my arms, or get her dressed in a wriggling wrestling match, I can’t quite believe that only a few months ago she was the tiny, placid infant that lay quietly in my arms.

As incredibly nerdy as we are, Andrew and I recently had a Pokémon-style battle via WhatsApp, using pictures of our respective offspring in various poses to represent their attacks and responses. Although it was just a bit of silly fun (which I won, I hasten to add), it started to get me thinking more about the comparison. That’s when I realised that one way to rationalise the fear of my children growing up could be to think of them a bit like Pokémon.

Yes, really.

 

pikachu
Photo Credit: Yohanes Sanjaya

 

Growth

Pokémon grow in big leaps. They go from each evolution to the next (most of the time), with fairly drastic changes in both their physical form and their capabilities. Babies and children aren’t like that in reality, of course. But when you look back or think ahead to the future, those steps – from newborn to baby; to toddler, teenager and beyond – suddenly don’t feel so gradual. It’s hard to believe that such incredible transformations manage to sneak past you, bit by bit, every single day.

They’ll get bigger, louder, and far more active. They’ll look different and be more expressive, whether vocally or just in the way they interact with you. When it comes to looking back at pictures and videos from just a few months before, it’s almost like looking at a completely different child.

Cherish the present. Photographs and videos are a wonderful way to capture a moment, but memories are often far more powerful. If you’re looking at a video five years from now, thinking “I don’t remember that…”, it’s great to have a record to keep. But it may also mean you spent too much time recording it, and not enough time living it!

 

Future Sight

The road ahead is daunting. It’s easy to think about the challenges ahead, and imagine the child of the present facing the trials of the future. But when you reach that point they’re going to feel like a very different person altogether.

When I think about the battles my daughter will face in life, I remember that I can help her prepare for those challenges. I try to picture who she’ll be then, not just who she is now, and what my role can be in helping her get there. I don’t need to worry that it’s the baby I’m holding – who can’t even stand yet – who’s going to be going to be facing those things. It’ll still be her, but she’ll have ‘evolved’ by then. She’ll be bigger, stronger, and capable of much more than I realise now.

 

It’s super effective!

When Pokémon evolve, sometimes it’s on their own. Sometimes it’s because you’ve given them a little push; by giving them something, or simply by making them happy. You might even stop them evolving because you think they’ve got more to learn. Either way, it’s your job to keep encouraging and helping them to grow and improve.

Maybe Pokémon has a deeper message about caring for and nurturing life than I realised. Perhaps I’m just seeing it in a new light now that I’m a father. Either way, I know I’m definitely going to encourage my real-life Pokémon to give it a try when they’re old enough. For now, I’m just going to enjoy spending time with my little monster in her current form.