My Son the Professor: A Boy In Love With Video Games

For the first few years of our marriage we were childless.  That was for good reason-I worked with infants all day long.  I had twelve babies at work, why would I want more?  I had to switch jobs so that I might want children of my own.  I went to a different center with older children.  That must have worked, because when we set out to try to have kids, we got it on the first try.  Man are we good.

The first spawn of our marriage was a little boy.  He was the bestest baby on the planet.  Cute, not like those shriveled up little newborns you usually get.  He slept.  He slept a lot.  As a matter of fact, there was very little time that he was conscious in those early months.  We would try to wake him up when company came-often with little success.  He fell asleep breastfeeding so he would never eat very much.  Turns out he was conserving all that brainpower for when he got older.

When he was two, we were concerned that he really didn’t talk.  That changed when he went to actual preschool.  And I brought home a NASCAR season preview special.  He stole it.  He took that big fat magazine and took it into his room.  He was obsessed.  That little two year old boy learned all of the numbers of all of the cars, the driver names, the sponsors, the crew chiefs, even the owners.  He knew every track and where they were located.  At two, he declared his love for all things Jeff Gordon, the driver of the Dupont #24.  That was difficult in a house of non Jeff Gordon fans.  We tolerated it, since he had his mind made up.  This changed when he decided to start rooting just for whoever was winning, because losing makes him sad.  He still likes NASCAR quite a bit, though.

He started reading at 3, and it has been an explosion of knowledge ever since, which is good and bad.  Good that he is passionate about learning.  Bad when you are in school and they are already doing stuff you learned years ago.  The funny thing is when he is sitting with a book, often he will be doing one of two things-1)  looking at only the pictures or 2)  Turning the pages without even looking at the book.  Maybe the words are jumping off the pages and into his brain. He loves all books, he prefers comic books and graphic novels.  Yup, much like us he’s going to be a geek.

The baby has grown up into a very inquisitive second grader.  I call him the Professor, because he is like a little professor of sorts.  Very smart, and he WILL tell you what he knows (unfortunately he can also be quite a know it all).  He has the glasses that always seem to be a little bit crooked.  He loves to analyze stuff.  He talks like a miniature adult.  He actually prefers the company of adults to children.  Recently we had my sister in law and her family up to visit.  We wanted him to hang out with his cousins, not just play video games.  You know, socialize.  Once he realized that the video games weren’t going to happen, he decided that maybe he should hang out with the grown-ups.  He comes out of his room, plops down betweeen my SIL and her husband and announces, “I have decided I should come and socialize.”  Of couse there was a TV in the room-he most likely was coming out to check out what was on it.

The Professor is much like his father in many ways.  He loves anything with a screen-TV shows, movies, computers, video games.  Especially video games.  When Evil Genius hooked up the Nintendo 64 in his room, a love affair began.  He thinks about video games all the time, he talks about video games all the time.  Even ones he doesn’t have.  Mario is his hero.  He’s always reading articles about Wii games in gaming magazines.  He tells me all about the great new games he’s reading about-I am constantly reminding him “We don’t have a Wii.”  “Oh”.  I think he’s secretly hoping that if he thinks about it hard enough, one will simply appear.  Sorry kiddo, not gonna happen.  He does have a DS which he loves to pieces.  I personally really don’t get the whole video game thing.  We had an Atari when I was his age, which was fun.  I still like to play Tetris and Scrabble, but not all the time.

We’re mean parents.  We don’t let him watch TV or play video games all the time.  He’s limited on his time.  He thinks we’re killing him.  Often he’ll make sure I know that the only thing that is fun to him is video games, and he’s not having fun if he’s not playing!

Oh he likes other things.  He loves science.  I brought him home two Popular Science magazines from the free bin at the library.  He sat and didn’t make a peep because he spent all afternoon and evening reading them.  He even took them to read on the bus.  He loves to know how things work.  My husband has taken him to work on several occasions and he thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.  He has been obsessed with the weather since age 3-we took him to the Science Center near here recently and he was quite disappointed that the real meteorologist didn’t show up for the weather presentation.  It was just some guy trying to keep the kids entertained.  Besides, he had gotten the paper on how to make his own tornado and hygrometer.  He was done.

He talks constantly, mostly about video games, superheroes, and sports.  He talks to whoever will listen, whether they seem interested or not.  He will also talk to himself, and he doesn’t care who is listening.  And sometimes he gets stuck.  He repeats the same thing over and over and over, usually until one of us tells him to stop.  It’s like there’s a record in his head that gets stuck.  We’ve tried to help with this, and it has gotten somewhat better, but now he whispers the repeated last word to himself just like Brick on “The Middle”.  When he isn’t talking about stuff, he’s asking questions.  LOTS of questions.  Many of which I have to respond with “Ask the engineer.”

The Professor’s design for his Halloween costume.

I must admit I think he’s pretty neat.  We’re both ADD, so I can somewhat understand his thought process, but there are other things going on in there that I just don’t quite get.  I worry about him a lot.  School has been a real struggle-he’s so smart but it’s hard for him to get that it’s time to work and he doesn’t get to choose what they are working on.  He has some real anxieties too.  The Aspergers possibility still hangs around there, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not going to be able to get him tested, and really what good would it do him other than what we’re already doing?  He is on an IEP for his ADD and his behavior issues-we deal with the behavior stuff on a daily basis.  I admit it’s very frustrating.  At the same time I’ve got to have a sense of humor about it.  And believe me, I do!

My Mom says that we have children for our own amusement.  I try to imagine myself and what I was like before kids.  Yes I complain like everyone else.  But hey, they are pretty funny!

This could happen at our house.

Learning to Embrace Geekdom

I am a geek.

Harry Anderson of “Night Court” fame once told of the origin of the word geek.  He said it was what they called the circus performer who bit the heads off of chickens.

Today’s version of a geek is much more friendly.  The “I Geek…” program that has been so well promoted has really helped with that.  Geek more refers to something that you have a keen interest in.  I also think the show “Big Bang Theory” has a lot to do with it.  I love that show.  Geeks trying to relate to people who aren’t.  It’s kind of like my life.  It’s almost cool to be a geek these days, depending on what kind of geek you are.

Being a geek is now cool!

I am a geek on several levels.

The version that most people know me as is the band geek.  The music geek.  I was in marching band and LOVED it.  Symphonic Band, Orchestra, Pep Band.  My life in high school revolved around instrumental music.  I had a hard time understanding that other people didn’t enjoy it like I did, like my high school boyfriend (he quit band-he rolled his eyes when I talked about it.  No wonder we broke up.)  I was good at it because I worked hard-it didn’t come naturally for me.  I was so jealous of my friends that were naturally so good they got to do things like All-State Band and the State Fair Band.  In college I was in those things and then expanded into vocal music.  I played in the municipal band and the regional symphony.  For a while I was a music teacher.  Now I’m now.  That’s another post.

You know I never actually got to go to band camp?

Then there are the other layers of geek.  I like movies.  I like some TV.  I love Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Superheroes.  The original Star Wars movies are still some of my all time favorites-there was a time when I could recite “The Empire Strikes Back” word for word.  My son has all the action figures that I had as a child (sorry collectors, they are not still in the boxes).  I get excited when there I find “Star Trek:  TNG” on TV.  I went to “Star Trek:  Nemesis” on opening night.  When I went to the new Star Trek movie, I almost cried when it was over because I never wanted it to end.  I waited in almost painful anticipation for the Avengers movie to be released. Harry Potter was magical to me-I saw the movies wishing that there had been such a thing when I was a kid.

I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to use this…

I have not read “50 Shades of Gray”, though I did check out an excerpt online because I wanted to know what the hell everyone was talking about (It’s PORN!  I’m sorry, that is porn.)  I have however read most of Robert Heinlein’s vast collection.  Alan Dean Foster, JR Tolkien, Brian Daley, Isaac Asimov, those are all very familiar names to me.  I used to read a book a day.  I was a little bookworm as a child.  I am trying very hard to get back to reading something that isn’t a magazine article these days-but when you have kids it’s hard!

But not all the geeks like the same stuff.  For the record, I’ve seen a little of Dr Who, but never got into it.  Never seen Babylon 5.  Saw the Stargate movie-never seen the show.  Watched some of Battlestar Galactica, but kept forgetting it was on (if it wasn’t for my DVR, I probably wouldn’t know when anything was on.  Again, another post).  Watched Smallville for a spell, then lost interest.  I don’t get into the whole Twilight/Vampire thing-though I have really enjoyed Being Human on the Sci-Fi channel.  Oh I’m sorry, it’s Sy-Fy.  Never quite understood why they changed the spelling-just how stupid do they think people are?

When we moved back to the Midwest after years of being a military family I started to get embarrassed about the things I liked.  For years I pretended that I had no interest in the stuff.  Mainly because I liked guys and I wanted one to like me back.  Thank goodness I finally met my husband.  I married him because I could be myself around him, and he likes the same stuff I do-movies, sci-fi, books, music, etc. We often speak in TV or movie quotes at home.  Let’s face it, he’s the Band Geek who never joined the band (I love the American Pie movies, and there is a good reason why).  Yes I am in a Geek Marriage.  But that’s ok.

He is a geek in more ways than I.  For example, he is a science geek.  He took Quantum Physics FOR FUN.  He also loves video games.  He plays World of Warcraft and City of Heroes.  We have every older video gaming system they made, including an Atari and a 3DO.  I think he salivates whenever we pass a Gamestop.  And he loves Comic Books-he takes my kids to the comic book store for fun.  He is currently designing metal signs for people’s cubicles at work based up their interests.  When his is complete, the world will stop and take notice.  That’s because it’s the Iron Man face, complete with a replica of an arc reactor that lights up.  He wants to be able to take it out and wear it.  I’m glad they embrace his weirdness at work… I tease him about it, but I love it.

I’m so glad he has found his niche.  His love of sports (mainly football-once again, that’s another post) is something that is very relatable to others. Outside of our family it’s hard for me to relate to other people that like the same things I do.  I guess because I’m a girl.  I’m still seen as the odd girl.  Quiet until you get to know me, developing the social anxiety hasn’t helped!  I remember vividly a few years ago when I was working with kids in a local after school program.  My boss told an entire room of people right in front of me how I’m kind of odd, and that was good because I could relate to the weird kids.  I wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or proud at that moment.

My husband has never been embarrassed of his interests.  He proudly lets people know what he likes.  He wears Star Wars and Star Trek t-shirts.  He lends out the movies he really likes to people who haven’t been exposed to the stuff.  I’m still embarrassed to show up the book that I’m currently reading in public-it’s the very first book ever written based upon “Star Trek:  TNG”.

Part of my goal now that I have more time to devote to being myself is getting to the point that I’m ok with being me.  Learning to embrace Geekdom, and learning about what is actually interesting about me being, well ME.  Developing the part that counts, the part on the inside, and stop worrying so darn much about what other people think!  So if you are offended that I am, well, such a GEEK, then stop reading my blog!!!

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have found a partner in Geekdom as I have.  Oh boy, my kids are DOOMED!  Again, that’s another post…