Growing up, I wanted to have two kids. A boy named Josh and a girl named Mercedes.
Josh would naturally be the big man on campus, and when I say that, imagine me saying it the way your grandmother says it when she asks you about school.
“How’s school, Josh? I assume you’re the big man on campus like your father?”
Josh’s father in this scenario being Dr. Peter Venkman or Jonathon Brandis.
Mercedes would be a popular genius/cheerleader. She’d be involved in dance and gymnastics and all those adorable extracurriculars my parents could never financially swing. People would ask me to go to dinner or volunteer events, and I’d sigh and feign exhaustion as I leaned against my minivan.
“I really wish I could, I’m just so slammed, Mercedes dance squad is going to regionals and Josh has to get fitted for his Homecoming tux, he’s on the court.”
The thoughts pass and I refocus my eyes on the small boy standing in front of me.
“Is this your card?” He asks me again, annoyed.
“It is.” I nod. I have no idea what my card was. Wyatt smiles and shoves the nine of spades back into the deck and shuffles, signling to me that this is in no way fucking over.
“When we do it this time mom, you have to answer quicker or it’s not as exciting.”
“Got it.” I nod.
Wyatt is very into up-close magic right now. It started last year when we were waiting for a table at a restaurant on the beach in Florida, and to ease the hostile, hungry crowd, a magician made his way from party to party, performing card tricks and pulling coins out of ears. I naturally avoided eye contact by playing on my phone, but Wyatt was sucked in. His Aunt Kathy bought him a magic kit that Christmas, and from that moment on, between comic books and Minecraft… there is a boy wearing the fedora I bought from Claire’s Boutique (when I took Gigi to get her ears pierced and I was feeling very Miami J-Lo) doing magic.
Jude, between playing a rotating schedule of soccer, basketball and football, spends his free time not only eating all my food and watching ESPN, but perfecting his photographic memory. He recalls all learned historical dates, lists the 44 presidents in chronological and reverse chronological order, and has begun taking a children’s computer coding class that we purchased from Groupon.
Gigi builds Broadway musical Spotify playlists, can respond to almost any social situation with a quote from an Adam Sandler movie, has written more plays than I can count, can do the robot to any Taylor Swift song, makes private make-up tutorials on YouTube and aspires to be a professional actress and Girl Scout leader.
These are hobbies that make fifteen year old me cringe. Maybe it’s because when I was growing up, those are things that would have labeled someone a geek or an outcast. Maybe because growing up, it labeled me a teen girl scout, long term Barbie playing, Theater obsessed outcast. That life is hard, and when I was younger the simple answer for me would be to change my kids as a means of saving them.
But, now that I’ve met them, and seen how wonderful they are, I’ve realized protecting doesn’t mean stifling them. Protecting them is making them feel so damn bad ass as they stand there pulling coins from ears and performing monologues from re-imagined John Hughes movies that anyone rolling their eyes or laughing under their breath doesn’t even matter.
I wanted better and easier for my kids because I didn’t want to see myself in them. I thought I could rewrite the past by having awesomer kids who lived way better versions of my exact life. There is a term for parents like that, and that term is…. basically every parent on TLC.
Geek Sweatshirt from DentzDesign
I work on the internet. Andy builds drones and talks to strangers on a HAM radio in our garage. The geeky parts of us inside our kids are some of the best parts. Raising geeks isn’t easy, but it’s amazing, nay, it’s magical. And in the end, you have a kid so excited their parents aren’t ashamed of them they go on to live uninhibited, successful, happy lives doing extraordinarily magical things.
Which is why you should always be nice to nerds and geeks, because you never know when they will change the world or invent the next Facebook or iPhone, and you will only be able to be a part of that if you were nice to them in high school. I’m kidding, you’ll be allowed, but when you have trouble updating your iOS and you lose all your photos or when Farmville steals your credit card information, we won’t help you. Ugh fine, we will, because we’re nice people who love you even when maybe you aren’t so great to us.
Last night I tucked Wyatt into bed, looking him in the face, a little to directly if we’re being honest and it made us both uncomfortable, but I didn’t stop.
“Listen to me Wyatt. Listen to my words. Don’t change, okay? Keep collecting comics and doing magic and waiting for your Hogwarts letter. Don’t you dare ever stop doing those things, and if you run out of people to do those things with you, I’ll fucking find you some on the internet. Do you hear me?”
“Thanks, mom.” He smiled.
“It’s my job, man.”