Geek-Grad

The CannonWhen you are young, your parents always curse tell you “I hope you end up with a kid who is just like you!”  Being the annoying kid who was doing horrible in English class and only wanted to play video games and collect transformers and M.A.S.K. toys, personally I thought “Sweet! Having a kid with all my same interests would rock!”  While I had a few of the same interests as my parents, I never really felt that I could connect with them on that real geek level.  I was into Science Fiction, my dad was into History.  I was fascinated by electronically created music, my dad had a 300 record collection of every classical piece every inked (Quilled?).  Although, there were a few things that we could geek out about. We both loved fantasy based stories like Lord Of the Rings.  My dad would indulge in playing lesser board games like Mouse Trap or Boggle and in return he would teach me Chess (or at least attempt to) or Backgammon.  I always vowed that if I had a kid, I would try and share interests as best as possible, to both foster the interests in common, and learn about the ones we didn’t share.  Ok, so maybe in my kid tone that came out like “I’m gonna treat my kid a ton better” but the thought was there.
 
Early on in my “adult” life, it happened.  I managed to spawn a new life into the world.  Sad to say, it was too early and I wasn’t entirely prepared for it, but then, who is really?  to remedy this I set out to better myself by enlisting in the USAF, but ended up missing a lot of important time in the process.  For my son’s early years it was very rough.  I was overseas defending the US’s right to cheap Japanese and Korean food, while my son was learning some of the hard lessons in life on his own.  He ended up filling the shoes I left behind, living with my parents for many years and feeling some of the same disconnects I felt.  Then it was time.  I had finally gotten to a stable place in my life and he in his.  Sure, we both missed out on some of the early bonding that you can’t get just from in-frequent visits, but we would make up for it.

In 2005 I skipped attending a DragonCon so I could pick up Andrew and all of his stuff for him to live with me permanently.  He was 13 and we had a lot of catching up to do.  I was only marginally prepared to be a full time single dad at this point (again, who is ever ready for something like that).  There was so much to figure out but I had lots of help in friends and family to provide support.  I can think of quite a few phone calls to my parents that consisted of the phrases “Why is he doing ______???” and “How can I get him to do______???”.  The benefit in being a single dad meant that the distractions that pulled at me in life could easily incorporate him.  If I picked up a new game, did it have co-op?  If I went to a convention, are there kid-friendly things for him?  I could now finally include him on the geeky things I enjoyed!  

There was a fear for a while, just before he arrived and while I was setting up his new computer in his room, “What if he doesn’t like the things I like?”  He was very into Baseball and little league, and I was not the most sports-centric person.  When he arrived we spoke a lot about what he liked and didn’t.  We got him involved in the local team’s Little League, and in turn I came to enjoy baseball a little more.  I learned to track the scores and calculate averages (who knew there was so much math and science in sports!).  In return, Andrew got into table top gaming, and sci-fi conventions.  It wasn’t long until he was asking to try on my Biker Scout armor, even it it did hang on him like a rag and make him look like a bobble head.

SuperboyFor the last 6 years we enjoyed countless games, ventured through many conventions, including at least 4 DragonCon’s, and shared in every geeky thing that we could find and introduce to each other.  I have seen him grow from Pokemon Cards to Magic cards, Board games to D&D. He is now a full DM for his gaming group. (Is it weird that it makes me as proud as a Quarterback’s Dad?)  We have done costumes together such as Batman and NightWing, Biker Scouts, and even had bit roles in the web series Trenches.  Non geek-type things included Baseball, Civil Air Patrol which led into ROTC, and even a brief attempt at learning guitar.  FYI, people with stupid fingers shouldn’t learn guitar (me, not him, he was actually getting pretty good).

I did what all GeekDad’s should do and educated him on the classics.  Even though he grew up with the Prequels, he came to appreciate the originals first and for-most.  He endured all of the Trek movies in order, and even spent an entire weekend being subjected to the Evil Dead series nearly back to back.  He can tell you the difference between a Hyperdrive and a Dilithium drive system, and can name all of the members of the fellowship.  If given the chance he will even calculate the THAC0 of swinging a frying pan while wearing Jeans and a T-Shirt!

So now I have an 18 year old son.  He has Graduated High School, and is preparing to venture off into the world to find his own destiny.  I have done my best to guide him on his geeky ways and teach him of mine.   It’s hard to imagine that in a few short months the house will be down to just myself and Sarah, who doesn’t share the same passion for fart jokes.

It’s been a long road, that wasn’t as long as it should have been, but in the end, I am extremely proud of my my Geek son, and while it may be a while down the road, I hope to all that is geeky that he ends up with a kid just like him.