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The Time My Mum Won Back My Shiny Pokemon Card: an Ode to All Mothers Everywhere

Shouts to all mums all over the world.

The author, when he was small, with his mum

Along with Aunt Viv, Brody Dalle and Stacey Solomon, my mum is – without a doubt – in my top four mums of all time. For over 20 years now she's put up with the most maniacal, egotistical, self-destructive person I've ever known: my dad. Luckily, she's also somehow managed to find the time to put up with me, too.

I could tell you a million stories about why she is the best, but here's just one that has stuck with me.


When I was in year 3, I was the first kid in school to get a holographic, end-stage Pokémon card. This wasn't just any holographic, end-stage Pokémon card, though; it was so rare that it doesn't even come up when you search for it in Google images (I mean, it does, but definitely not as often as some of the other holographic, end-stage Pokémon cards).

Anyway, I took this card to school to show off – my ego as much my downfall at seven years old as it is today – and, for a time, I was the coolest kid in that dump. Boys and girls flocked from far and wide to see my sparkling progeny; the football boys, the nature area freaks, even the group of girls who used to rehearse Spice Girls routines for Friday assembly. I felt like TJ from Recess, king of the playground.

But then the older kids came. The year 5s. When you're seven, nine-year-olds are literally twice your size. It was like David and Goliath, only instead of a highly efficient slingshot all I had to defend me was an iridescent Pokémon card.

It must have taken about 10 minutes before one of the cockier kids – who I hesitate to describe as "a bit of a bully" – was up in the throng, demanding a look. "Whose is this?" he demanded, "I'll trade it for Charmander and Squirtoise."

Even at seven I could tell this was a raw deal. But you should understand this boy wasn't just any old charlatan; it wasn't just Squirtoise and Charmander he was offering. He propositioned me with a trading partnership. With our Pokedex combined, he promised me, we could become unstoppable. If I just gave him this one card to safe-keep overnight, it would be a sure sign of my trust, and he'd then bring his own cards in the next day. This was a deal I couldn't turn miss.


And miss it I did not. I handed over that card like there was no tomorrow; like it was just a useless piece of plastic, an inherently valueless commodity designed to draw children into the ideology of a market economy before they've even learnt the meaning of conspicuous consumption. How was I to know this nine-year-old chancer didn't even collect Pokémon cards?

Still, I had a funny feeling about handing that card over, funny enough that I told my mum about it when she came to pick me up after school. That was in the bike sheds. Two minutes later she was over by the swings, book bag in one hand, and what was that in the other?

My mum had challenged that nine-year-old to a Pokebattle and returned victorious. Dark Dragonite was back in my pocket and, like Team Rocket, my adversary had disappeared into the ether. My mum had my back. The Brock to my Ash, the Mew to my Mewtwo, my one real battle partner who could see through all the phonies.

That story has stuck with me, partly because that boy is now serving time for armed robbery (unrelated, I'm assuming), but also because it pretty much sums up what my mum does for me every day.

My mum was the one who carried me through a childhood of ear infections, asthma attacks, migraines and misdiagnosed hernias (it was constipation). She was the one who bought me my first pair of skinny jeans so I could hang out with the emos at school, and ran me a bath when I had a panic attack the night before my citizenship GCSE. She's the one who's always there if I need anything, whether that's showing me how to use the tumble dryer or just needing someone to talk to.


It may have taken this long to realise it, but I'm not entitled to all that. It's not her job to wait on my beck and call, to come running at a moment's notice. And yet there she's been for 20 years, and no doubt she'll be there for 20 more.

My mum is amazing – just as amazing as all the other mums out there (you're a bit more amazing than those other mums, mum). From the Hollywood megastars helping their kids express their identity to the mothers living hand-to-mouth and keeping their kids safe in war zones, one thing brings all mums together, and that is an unquantifiable, irrevocable love. It pains me to think some people will never know that love, but it also blows my mind to know how many billions of mothers out there are just like mine.

So shouts to all the mums out there for being the best friends, the biggest supporters, the closest confidants and the most loyal battle partners.

Happy Mother's Day, mum.


More stuff about mums:

What It's Like to Grow Up with an Alcoholic Mum

I Had a Drinking Contest with My Mum