Playing Consequences

Consequences is a parlour game. Everyone takes a sheet of paper and writes a name, then folds the paper to hide what they’ve written, and passes it to the person on their left. On this new sheet, everyone writes a second name, conceals it and passes it on. This goes on, until each piece of paper tells a story:

X met Y. X said this. Y said that. They did this. Then that happened. And the consequence was . . .

It’s a good game. It usually gets a few giggles, mainly drawn from the absurd incongruity of the story parts. The consequence often receives the biggest laugh. How funny these disconnected consequences are.

‘Consequences’ are talked about pretty liberally in parenting. They’re a key part of the carrot-and-stick approach to getting people to do what you want. Pleasant consequences can be provided to encourage people to repeat behaviours that you like. Unpleasant consequences aim to discourage behaviours that you dislike.

When I was a child, my mum sometimes talked about leaving someone to stew in their own juice. The idea being that if someone had caused their own problems, they should be left to deal with those problems alone. Natural consequences sound like that to me.

I don’t think that there’s anything particularly natural about them. The consequence only kicks in if I refuse to help.

Honestly, I think a large part of my job as a parent is to protect my children from natural consequences. Nature is cruel. I don’t want my boys suffering from exposure.

If the boys don’t brush their teeth, for example, the natural consequences include mouth ulcers, bad breath, and rotten teeth. Standing back and watching the boys suffer that seems pretty harsh to me.

If Eldest doesn’t feed his rabbit, the natural consequence would be a dead rabbit. I cannot imagine any parent who would consider that acceptable.

So, we don’t use natural consequences. But, we often use what I think of as Mitigating Consequences.

If the boys refuse to brush their teeth, I refuse to give them sweets. I can’t force them to brush, but I can try to limit the amount of sugar that sticks there. I would call that a Mitigating Consequence. It’s basically the opposite of a natural consequence. I deliberately stand between the boys and the natural consequence.

If I set consequences, I am usually trying to undo whatever damage I think has already been done. I am quick to offer a dustpan and brush when bowls of cereal get thrown across the room. I pull over the car if anyone undoes their seatbelt and refuse to drive again until they are safely buckled in.

If the boys don’t do school work, I don’t stand back and wait for them to fail exams. I keep pestering until the work is done.

Sometimes, I am just trying to prevent the damage happening again. When one of the boys climbed out of his bedroom window, the consequence was that we locked his windows and took away the keys. I figured we could at least prevent a repeat performance of that stunt. According to the same logic, I have disposed of toys that were too effective as weapons, such as the lovely puppet theatre which was held together by long metal posts.

Other times, I don’t set any consequences for the boys at all. If Eldest doesn’t feed his rabbit, I feed his rabbit for him. The rabbit needs to be fed. I suppose that I could take away the rabbit, that would prevent this issue coming up again, bit we’d lose all the benefits of having a rabbit. So, sometimes, I just shrug it off and move on. I don’t think that everything has to be a teaching moment and I don’t want everything to turn into a fight.

I like to think that our model of discipline is of solving problems together.

If Eldest doesn’t feed his rabbit, the problem is a hungry rabbit. Obviously the solution is to feed the rabbit.

If Middly has a tantrum and breaks a favourite toy, the natural consequence would be for him to no longer have that toy. But, he knows that we can afford to replace his toys. He isn’t stupid.

If we refuse to replace the toy, what are we actually teaching Middly? Surely that would show him that we don’t care enough to help.

If Middly has a tantrum and breaks a favourite toy, the problem is that his toy is broken. The solution is to try and fix it. If that doesn’t work, then, the solution is to replace it. Often I will suggest that we put it on his Amazon wishlist, in the hopes that he’ll get a new one for his birthday, Christmas, Easter, or whatever celebration is upcoming. We never seem to be very far from a celebration! Sometimes, he might be able to buy a new one using pocket money. But, if we’re miles from his birthday and he can’t afford it, I am quite prepared to buy another one.

I want my children to come to me when things go wrong and I want them to trust me to do my best to fix the problem.

I want the boys to have a solution-focused view of life. Everyone does the wrong thing from time to time. When they do, they need help to make it right.

When I mess up and yell at the children. I apologise and give them a hug. That can only work if they help me by listening to my apology and accepting my attempt at reconciliation. So it seems reasonable that when they mess up, I am there to help them make it right.

When they were younger, if they hurt someone, I apologised on their behalf. I held their hand and showed them how to make up with people they hurt.

That didn’t seem to teach them that hitting was ok. They had no trouble understanding that hurting others is wrong. The trouble was working out how to fix it. Now – generally – they apologise without prompting.

I used to make chocolate milk when one of the boys hurt the other (not every single time, there is such a thing as too much chocolate milk). First, I made it and gave them each a cup. Then, as they got older and more capable of participating, I made it and asked them to give their brother the chocolate milk to make up. Now they can make it themselves and attempt to repair their relationship on their own. Sometimes the boys make me a cup of tea when they’ve been unkind. I like to think that we’ve modelled reparations for the boys so they can begin to use them for themselves.

In our family, the problem has never been knowing what was right or wrong. Nobody ever really thought it was right to hurt people or break things. So, I don’t think that I need to spend much time telling them this.

The problem has been coping with getting it wrong, making the move from someone who caused problems to someone who solves them. I like to ask ‘what are we going to do about this?’ Usually, the boys don’t know, and I will offer some suggestions. But, as time passes, as we keep practicing, we’re slowly getting there.

And the consequence is we’re learning how to clean up after ourselves.

It’s not perfect. I’m not perfectly calm. The boys aren’t perfectly behaved. We certainly aren’t always in tune with each other. But, focusing on solutions feels kind in a way that natural consequences just don’t.

There are so many problems that I can’t fix for my children. I can’t make injuries vanish. I can’t make other children be their friends. I can’t take away awful memories.  Sometimes my boys (just like me) will make mistakes that I can’t fix. Sometimes they will cause hurts that I can’t take away. I am in no hurry to cause more.

Of course, all families are different. And I am wrong about lots of things! I’d be fascinated to hear how you handle consequences in your family.

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Moving House with Adopted Children

We moved house recently. This is always a pretty big deal, but, can be extra stressful for adopted children, who may have some rather tricky emotions attached to moving.

I love to plan. I spend ages trying to set up an environment that supports the boys and helps them to stay in control of themselves. So, I made plenty of plans to help us with the big move. Some worked well. Others, not so much.

What did work:

  • Hiring a packing company meant our house was entirely packed up on the Sunday, and we moved house on the Monday. I was able to keep all our normal routines in place until the day before the move. That definitely kept things pretty calm in the run up.
  • First days boxes. I packed special boxes, very clearly labelled, with clothes, food & toiletries for the first few days, and brought them in the car. It took off the time pressure for unpacking, keeping me calmer (and we all know that’s the single biggest factor in keeping the household calm).
  • Taking used bedding for the first night. I made sure to scoop up the bedsheets on the morning of the move, then put the same ones on beds for the first night. I was hoping that familiar scents would have a subconscious reassuring effect. I don’t really know if it worked, but the first night, everyone slept well, so I am calling it a success.
  • DVDs. I anticipated that it might take a few days to get the TV hooked up, so I put DVDs in our first days box. I was glad of that the day I really wanted to put the boys in front of the TV for a bit.
  • Two days after our move, some friends made the big drive to come and see us. That was wonderfully reassuring for all of us. We may have moved, but we haven’t been forgotten.
  • My husband took a week off, after the move, to help us settle. This was really helpful! We expected a bit of regression after the move. Having both parents around all day, meant we all stayed much cooler and coped reasonably well with the return of some old (and not at all missed) behaviour patterns.
  • Signing up for the library. We loved our old library and leaving it was a wrench. A couple of days after arriving, we found our new library, and we started feeling at home.
  • Keeping routines in place. A lot has changed with the move! New house, new garden, new places to explore. Keeping as many routines as possible has been important. Breakfast and bedtime are exactly the same as they have been for years. I can feel us settling into the patterns with relief as those times come around.
  • Lowering expectations. We have expected the boys to find this hard. So, we’ve been making things easier wherever possible. Fewer demands, simplifying tasks, both have helped. Most of all, expecting the tricky moments has helped my husband and I to react with a bit of extra grace.

What went wrong:

  • Eldest’s high-sleeper bed was in an awful state. So, rather than taking a broken bed with us, we opted to get rid of it before the move and buy a new one once we reached the new house. It was a minor disaster. Eldest had terrible nightmares sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I really wish I had avoided that one.
  • Each of the boys packed a rucksack with small toys, books and a comic. I added sweets, squash and a couple of surprise books. When we arrived at the new house, we set each boy in a room with their rucksack while we unloaded the vans. Seemed like a great idea, and the boys were originally enthusiastic. The reality was a fiasco! The boys were bored, fractious and extremely resistant to this plan. After a few tricky moments, we kept the boys close to us instead and things improved.
  • We home educate, so we’re not looking for a new school. Instead, we want to find some new home ed groups to hang out with. Unfortunately, we’ve moved in the middle of the summer holiday, and a lot of the local groups aren’t running. That’s made things a little disappointing for the boys. Waiting a few weeks to try out new groups is a huge deal and they’re feeling a bit lonely.

Clearly we have a lot of settling in left to do. Doubtless I will make plenty more mistakes! Hopefully, I will also manage a few more successes.

Either way, as Eldest says: the main thing is that we’re still a family.

My Family Recipe for Macaroni Cheese

From time to time, I foolishly click on a link or (even more foolishly) buy a book promising ‘quick and easy family meals’, only to find lots of fresh herbs, dozens of pans, and a requirement to focus on cooking and nothing but cooking for anything up to an hour. That is not what I call a family recipe. 
However, I do actually cook meals for my family, usually twice a day, and it rarely turns into a complete fiasco. So, I thought that I would share a real family recipe with you. I’ve chosen macaroni cheese because it is almost always a popular meal in our house.

Maybe this will encourage other parents struggling to prepare meals with children around. Please consider sharing one of your recipes with me in return 😉

  1. Turn on the TV and leave the children in front of it. Be sure to seat them as far from one another as your lounge allows.
  2. Put the kettle on – make sure it’s completely full.
  3. Find some pasta and put it in a saucepan, on the back hob. Do not turn it on yet! You will burn the pasta.
  4. Put butter in the big pan, on the front hob. Turn that hob on.
  5. Check you turned on the correct hob.
  6. Put a tea bag in a mug.
  7. Creep into the lounge as quietly as you can to check on the children. Put them back on seats far away from one another and take the remote away.
  8. When the kettle boils, make your tea first, then pour all the leftover water on top of the pasta. Now you can turn the hob on.
  9. Put frozen hot dogs on top of the pasta. Put the lid half on. Do not put the lid on properly, or the pasta will boil over.
  10. Shake some plain flour (bread flour is fine, if  you ran out of plain, but be careful with self-raising because it tastes funny) into the melted butter and mix it to make a paste.
  11. Add milk slowly to the sauce and stir. (If there is a noise in the lounge, make sure you take the lid off the pasta and the sauce off the hob before going to check, otherwise you will come back to burnt, lumpy sauce and a pasta-water swamp. Do not fool yourself that it will only take a second to sort out that worrying noise.)
  12. Season the sauce with pepper, salt and something else (paprika’s fine, nutmeg’s fine, rosemary’s fine, but don’t mix them all together). 
  13. Add peas and sweet corn to the sauce.
  14. Now is a very good moment to check back in on the children. You might even be able to drink some tea. 😊
  15. Grate some cheese and put a handful in the sauce. If you have to return to the lounge, do not leave the cheese out – someone will creep in and eat it – hide it under a tea towel.
  16. Make sure there’s nothing in the  oven. If there’s something weird in the oven, put it to one side to deal with later. If you get into that now, tea will be late and everyone will be grouchy, especially you.
  17. Turn oven on.
  18. Take the hot dogs out of the pasta and cut them up (it is worth the extra washing-up created by using a knife and a fork, since otherwise you will drop the hotdogs on the floor and the children will complain that there are fewer hotdogs than usual).
  19. Drain the pasta.
  20. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir.
  21. Add the hotdogs to the pasta and stir.
  22. Pour the pasta into the big blue dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top (make sure it’s roughly even, it is worth taking the time now to avoid having that ridiculous argument about who has most cheese on their pasta again).
  23. Put the blue dish in the oven and check that you really did turn the oven on earlier. 
  24. Go back into the lounge – try to remember to take your cup of tea with you. Now is a good time to follow up on that weird thing you found in the oven.
  25. Return to the kitchen and get your cup of tea.
  26. Every ten minutes or so, check the pasta to see if the cheese is crispy yet.
  27. When the cheese is crisp (not before, unless you want the children to ask how long tea will be repeatedly), ask a child to lay the table – try to remember which child you ask.
  28. Take the pasta out of the oven.
  29. Dish out Youngest’s first so it has time to cool down a bit.
  30. Check the table and ask the child to go back and lay it properly. If ask the wrong child to fix the table, that is because you are encouraging a sense of teamwork.
  31. Dish out the rest of the plates and take the plates through.
  32. The meal is cooked. Huzzah!

    On messing up

    I’m not a super-parent.

    This is not me, since I am not a super hero.

    In fairness, this is probably not much of a surprise to anyone but me.

    I have made my fair share of mistakes in all other areas of my life, so there’s no reason why I wouldn’t make them in parenting too.

    But, when I went into adoption, it was with the desire to help children. I saw myself as someone who would make things better, someone who could fix problems. I did training courses, read books, sought out experience with children with a variety of special needs, and tried to equip myself with extra skills. I wanted to be not just a parent, but a super-therapeutic-parent.

    Shortly after my boys came home, I was talking to my dad on the phone, worrying about how I was doing. 

    He said: don’t worry so much, everyone makes mistakes. 

    And I replied: but, do many mistakes have already been made in these children’s lives. There isn’t room for me to make more. I have to get this right!

    Of course, I didn’t stop making mistakes. What I did do was to feel horrendous about every little slip. Every time I didn’t want to play a game, or lost my cool, or ran out of apples; I felt awful. These children had been through so much already, they deserved better from me now!

    I haven’t changed my mind about that.

    My children are spectacular and they do deserve spectacular parents and a wonderful childhood.

    But, I have realised that it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

    Spectacular as they are, my children make some pretty big mistakes. They have made some poor choices in the time that they have lived with us. Some of which have backfired and hurt them.

    It is not fun watching your children mess up and hurt themselves or others.

    But, it’s part of the parenting gig. Sometimes my boys do the wrong thing. And, it’s my job to stand next to them and try to support them in cleaning up as much mess as they can.

    I am beginning to see that my children don’t want me to be perfect. They want to see me make mistakes.

    My children need to see me make mistakes, own up, and clean up the mess as best I can.

    They need me to show the how it’s done. They need to see that mistakes are survivable.

    How to survive mistakes and how to apologise with dignity: these are skills that my children definitely need.

    So, for everyone’s sake, I try not to panic when I am in the wrong. I try to own up as quickly as I can. And, I hope that I can demonstrate how to cope with being imperfect.

    It turns out that my dad was exactly right. All I really need to do is worry a bit less and accept that nobody’s perfect.

    He was right and I was wrong. But, that’s ok.

    What does a home educator do all day?

    I’ve recently shared what my children’s days look like. So, I thought it would be interesting to follow up with a post on what it is that I do all day.

    Monday

    I got up to find my husband was already up with the kids (hooray). I looked in on Middly, who was hard at work and Eldest, who was reading in bed. Then I went downstairs. I admired Youngest’s duplo themepark, then made myself a cup of tea.
    I took Youngest upstairs to get dressed. When I came back, my husband had made me toast. I ate that whilst reading my book.

    Middly showed me his Minecraft house and I made vaguely approving noises. I dropped in on Eldest and encouraged him to consider getting up. 

    I did some laundry. Youngest read his reading book to me. I helped Middly make his breakfast. I gathered some books that explained how batteries worked. I gave the books to Middly to help him write this week’s Science Club newsletter.

    Youngest found his Songbirds workbook and I helped him do a few pages in that, occasionally spelling words for Middly.

    I went upstairs to check on Eldest, then ran back down to break up a fight between Middly and Youngest.

    I had a quick chat with my husband about work stuff (interrupted a couple of times to help Middly with the computer and Youngest with his drawing). Then I made salad for lunch.

    We ate lunch together. Then my husband helped me get shoes and sweaters on all the children. I drove to the library.

    I returned last week’s library books. I read your books to Youngest and discussed which books the older two were taking out. I helped Youngest take out his library books.

    We had a walk in the park, then I drove back home and made the children a snack, and drank a cup of tea. I helped Eldest with his crystal growing project.

    While all the boys were occupied with library books, I snuck in ten minutes quiet time. I used to have a regular routine, but these days it feels more like snatching tiny bits of unoccupied time.

    I drove Eldest and Middly to my brother’s house and left them there to play Dungeons and Dragons.

    Back home, I made brownies with Youngest. Then I read to him.

    Then my husband and I took Youngest to the park for a play before we picked up the older boys.

    Back home, I made nut roast for tea. I watched Harry Hill’s Tea Time with the boys. Then we all ate tea together. Eldest finished a workbook book today, so we made a fuss, and celebrated with brownies for pudding.

    I sorted out the boys’ work for tomorrow and made sure that they have everything they’ll need. Then I watched TV and sorted laundry.

    Tuesday

    My husband brought me a cup of tea in bed this morning. 😊

    I played a game with Youngest, which mainly involved pretending to sleep, so that was easy.

    I helped Middly with his Punctuation work. Then I managed to read a bit of my book while I ate breakfast. I got Youngest dressed, then I helped Middly with some Biology that he was finding tricky.

    Stopped in to discuss work  my husband.

    Youngest turned on the PC and announced that he was going to type this own newsletter. So, I opened a new document and showed him how the return key and space-bar work.

    I put on a pot of coffee. Then Middly asked for help with a maths puzzle. I gave him a clue to help him figure it out.

    Youngest wanted to print his newsletter, so I showed him how to do that (I’m hoping that I don’t live to regret teaching him how to print, he goes through quite a lot of paper already). Middly showed me that he’s solved the maths puzzle, and I was suitably impressed.

    I put on laundry and made pasta for lunch, then listened to Youngest read while lunch cooked.

    After lunch, Middly and I messed around with multimeters, nails and LEDs, trying to finalise plans for tomorrow’s Science Club.

    Middly got bored, but my husband came down and had a look with me. 

    Then I drove Middly to his swimming lesson. While he swam, I read books to Youngest. Then I pretended to understand the swimming teacher’s tips about Middly’s technique (I can swim, but I am not at all polished, so Middly is already far better than me). As we drove home, I handed out snacks and told Middly all that his teacher had said and it made sense to Middly, so that was good.

    Back home, I put on the TV then finished Science Club prep on my laptop. Finally, I sorted out the boys’ work for tomorrow.

    Wednesday

    Read to Youngest, watched Middly do a ‘play’ with Lego. Helped Eldest make a crossword using a website. 

    My husband took the boys to McDonald’s for lunch, and I met them at Science Club. I talked a bit about atoms, electricity and acids. Then I handed out experiment sheets and the children made simple batteries out of water and cola. I walked around troubleshooting experiments and occasionally dragging Youngest out from under the tables. I talked more about how the cells worked, and challenged the older children to connect their cells up to make batteries that could power an LED. I sorted out a few troublesome experiments and stopped Middly drinking all the cola. I talked about static electricity and did a demo with a balloon and tissue paper. Then I admired the children’s static electricity works of art. Then I tidied the room, put all my equipment in the car and went to the park.

    One of my favourite things about Science Club is getting a chance to chat to other home educators. It’s immensely reassuring and a lot of fun. I really love the group of people I see at Science Club.

    My husband met up with us again and we went to visit my family. I drank tea, ate cake and talked nonsense.

    Then we came home. My husband and I made a curry together. After tea, Eldest went out, and I baked a cake with Middly. 

    Before bed, I found Youngest’s missing Ninja Turtles. 

    Thursday

    Got up early today, admired Middly’s magic tricks and made breakfast.

    Then we went to Chessington Amusement Park for the day. I went on rides, took photos, and generally had a fantastic time. When we arrive at big places like this, I insist that everyone picks one ‘must do’ activity. Then I can be sure that we do at least one thing to please each of us. In the event, the queues were very short and it was easy to fit everything in. I chose a zoo ride that we could all go on together.

    Eldest and Middly loved the big rides. Youngest was particularly excited by the baby monkey.

    We came home very late and I carried a sleeping Youngest to bed.

    Friday

    Unsurprisingly, we got up late today.

    Played Lego with a droopy Youngest. He had a bit of a temperature. I gave him some medicine and asked my husband to look after him when I took the older two out. I don’t often get the option of leaving a slightly unwell child at home, I was very glad of it today.

    Helped Middly make a model train. Made a picnic for those of us going out and sorted out lunch for those staying home.

    Took the big boys to a park. We met up with a group of friends. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of home ed friends, and one of them organised an archery lesson for the children today. I watched the archery, and even had a bit of a go, myself. 

    We are our picnic together and went for a walk in the woods. 

    Some of our friends came back to our house. I made coffee for the grownups and snacks for everyone. I supervised Middly and his friend, playing with the rats. 

    I reminded Eldest about his tennis lesson and found his racket for him.

    Middly, his friend expressed an interest starting a drama group. My friend and I talked about how we could get this sorted out for them. While I chatted, Youngest snuggled up on my lap and went to sleep.

    My husband and I made tea together again. Over tea, Eldest said that he would like to start a family book club. We discussed that. He’s already selected a book, Cogheart, so we agreed to read that as a bedtime story, so that everyone will know it.

    Saturday

    My husband took the boys out for a treasure hunt. We’ve used Treasure Trails several times now. They’re a fun addition to a long walk and can liven up an area we already know.

    I did the ironing, treated myself to a ready meal for lunch and finally got a few hours of writing done.

    I feel like I ought to praise my husband for taking the boys out. He does this roughly every other weekend, and I do appreciate it. But, honestly, I don’t think that I could cope without these breaks. Having a day to work on my own projects is vital to me.

    Sunday

    This is our family day. Church in the morning, an easy lunch, then board games. We played Q-bitz and Brain Box games this week.

    Our board game sessions are rarely entirely peaceful, but I think that they’re worthwhile.


    Thoughts

    This week, my husband was around a lot. He didn’t visit clients’ sites, so we saw a lot of him, which made this a very good week!

    Looking back over what I do all day, I’m still not sure! I seem to spend a lot of time providing an audience for the boys. Youngest still does reading and writing next to me, but the older two are more independent. My main role in their learning seems to be planning and providing activities, then celebrating when they’re done. I find the emotional and behavioural stuff the most draining. Breaking up squabbles, soothing tantrums and trying to encourage politeness is an endless loop. I don’t think that’s exclusive to home educators, though!

    Books

    Like my boys, I usually have a few books on the go. At the moment, I’m reading Robin Hobb novels for escapist fiction, Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History for non-fiction and  An Introduction to Elementary Logic to challenge myself.

    Growing Up

    Eldest and Middly are quite close in age. One if the ways we’ve tried to help Eldest feel confident in his role as the oldest brother has been The List.
    It’s a slightly bizarre list of privileges and special things that come with reaching certain ages. We tried to choose things that required little in the way of maturity since you can’t always expect maturity to come with age.
    After Baby was born, we went back and  added things to the lower ages, so we had one for every birthday.
    1) Choose a meal on special days (since we always have a meal plan we regularly have weeks when the children pick meals to have, when Baby reached one, we figured he was old enough to have a pick in there too).
    2) Pour juice.
    3) Spread jam.
    4) Choose your own clothes after school and at weekends.
    5) Pause the TV.
    6) Sit – on the correct car seat – in the front of the car sometimes.
    7) Get an electric toothbrush.
    8) Light candles under supervision.
    9) Turn on the computer – though Mum & Dad might ask you to turn it off again if you chose a bad time.
    10) Get an approved pet.
    11) Get a mobile phone.
    12) Get a front door key.
    13) Get a laptop or contemporary equivalent.
    14) Choose your own bedtime.
    15) You may use your computer alone in your room (currently, all electronic devices remain downstairs at all times).
    16) You can choose your own clothes to buy.
    17) Mum and Dad will fund a couple of days away for you and a friend – details to be agreed.
    18) You can come and go as you please, but Mum and Dad don’t promise to fund all excursions.

    The boys love the list. Even though not everything on it is exciting in itself, the fact that it’s only available at a particular age makes it special. It remains to be seen whether it’s as popular when they get older.

    Do you want to battle?

    Middly’s current favourite game is something called Pokepark 2.
    I was watching him play it this morning and a scene caught my eye.

    image

    Every time Middly’s character walked up to this giant bird-thing, the giant bird-thing greeted him with: “What do you want? If you want a battle, I might agree to that.”
    Middly had the option of clicking ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but, really it’s not a choice.
    If he picked ‘no’, the creature grunted “Mmpf” and wandered off. The only way Middly can engage with this bird-thing is to fight it.
    And, I thought, hey, I recognise that! I have been that questing Pokémon, walking up, offering a snack, a chat, a hug, only to be met with: “What do you want? If you want a battle, I might agree to that.”
    Battles in Pokémon are a test of strength. If you can defeat another Pokémon, then they will respect you, they might even become your friend and help you in the future.
    If you lose, the other Pokémon will stalk off in disgust. Though, you can have another go at defeating them later, if you like.
    Pokémon value strength above all things. In a world where there’s always another fight, the only friends worth having are the really strong ones.
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