Nature Vs. Nerdture
As we approach Halloween, the best holiday in the world, ever, and having just finished up NYCC, costume pics and articles are everywhere. Party planning, baking Halloween themed goodies, carving pumpkins and rolling out the horror movie marathons. This time of the year can make any of us feel like kids again, whether or not we have one at home. In the spirit of the season, I want to keep this week’s episode light-hearted and fun and talk about what I consider one the coolest and most under appreciated aspects of being a geek parent.
I bet most of us had been the receiver of taunts, lectures and snide comments about some of our interests as ‘geeks’. As an adult, maintaining an active and passionate love for things like video games, comic books, board games, animated shows, costuming and role playing could be seen by less creative family members and friends as immature or silly. And sometimes perhaps it is! But does staying in touch with your inner child mean you can’t also function as a responsible adult? Does it prevent you from being successful in your career or from maintaining healthy, adult relationships? Ok, maybe some of you gamers struggle with this from time to time. But let’s not go there, for now.
I say that these hobbies and passions that geeks share are not only healthy and contribute to a unique happiness in adulthood for all of us, but they provide us with a very valuable tool in becoming awesome parents. Heading in to parenthood for the first time, I find myself frequently dreaming of all the super fun things I can share with my son one day: science kits, favorite games, movies, comics, museums! And with Halloween coming, I’ve already day dreamed of his costumes for the next 5 years, all of which will include Mr. Megan and I in costume as well.
I want to share with you a few stand out, geekcentric treasures that I’ve come across. Some prime examples of why we have a big head start in being fun, intelligent, focused parents.
Exhibit #1: A super well made, highly impressive choice for Star Wars fans, this Tusken Raider costume. There are lots of awesome homemade costumes online, but this one I found not only well thought out and executed but done on a budget, using lots of household items and cheap dollar store finds.
Exhibit #2: A site packed with intricate, scientifically accurate kits and building tools for your little scientist. This site covers everything from space exploration kits to solar and wind power kits to remote control machine kits. There’s also plenty of grown geek kits and gadgets here, for mom and dad’s Christmas lists. These are no Fisher Price, candy colored play kits. An introductory solar power kit includes 177 pieces that can be turned in to 6 different solar powered models, for kids ages 8 and up.
Exhibit #3: Age appropriate video games and handheld devices. I gave my niece her very first Game Boy and now she’s moved up to a DS Lite, to which I regularly contribute games from my own DS game collection. When she visited a few months ago, we had a blast playing Xbox games together and I found particular joy in introducing her to a few of my favorites including Ilo Milo and Portal. Finding age appropriate games for young kids can be challenging, and as I’ve said before, varies widely depending on your kid’s particular exposure level to things like game violence, sexual content or creepy characters. I found this Squidoo article to be quite informative and helpful for shopping games for kids under 10. Not only does it offer suggestions for affordable kid’s games, but offers them in multiple platforms including DS and Xbox, two on the list are Kinect games (actual physical activity!) and collects the suggestions in a convenient ‘best selling’ list.
Exhibit #4: Reading is not necessarily a geek dominated hobby in itself, but many geeks are born of book worm tendencies and vice versa. I do believe those of us with geek-like interests put higher value, more time and passion and enjoy reading more than than average Muggle. (See what I did there?) A fantastic program I’ve discovered in my quest to encourage new reading outlets for my niece is NPR’s Backseat Book Club. The program asks kids to participate by reading a selected book every month, then submitting question to the author. Some of the questions will be chosen and answered on NPR’s radio show (podcast) All Things Considered, which I can offer a personal recommendation of. Kids love to be a part of something and to feel like they have a voice; this is a genius, wonderful example of how to give them that while also supporting a healthy, brain powered activity.
I could go on offering sparkling examples of the power of the geek parent, but I must save some material for later episodes. I hope that I’ve shared a few things here that you can take advantage of for your own kids and that I’ve done justice to the great potential of the geek parent to genuinely share and enjoy super fun, educational experiences with their children, building special, long lasting bonds as a result. In other words, let your family geek flag fly!