The Little Nerd Down The Hall

Little Man Chillin in His Little Nerd Cave--2008

Little Man Chillin in His Little Nerd Cave–2008

     If you’re a mom or a dad with interests that lean towards the nerd-side, you’ve probably wondered to yourself:

      “How much should I try to mold my own little one(s) in my own nerdtastic image?  And should I even try?”

      Before I had kids, it was something I took for granted as a done deal.  Our daughter was born in 2003 but I’d been amassing kid-friendly comics, toys, and kids’ books since about 1992.  Now that I have two children of my own, I wonder if it’s going too far to try and influence their interests to parallel my own.  It certainly seems like a better approach than the “hands-off” parent who takes little or no interest in what his or her kids are into.

     I guess what I’m getting at here is kinda deep in a navel-gazing sorta way.  So I’m a nerd.  But how did I get that way?  What makes us who we are in terms or our hobbies and interests–our passions, if you will?  My parents certainly didn’t/don’t have much, if any, interest in the things I’ve loved for the last 35 years, so where did I get my love for  all these things?

      And how about this?  Do I risk pushing my kids away from those very interests by virtue of the fact that they are mine?  Will the fact that Dad likes X, Y, and Z somehow make those things “uncool” to my kids?  Gotta love those First World problems.

      This issue surfaced for me recently when I tried to get my nine year old daughter to read a comic book. It was a Disney Valentines Day Special.  Normally that’s something right up her alley. She loves reading, but so far, I haven’t been able to kindle (see what I did there) much of an interest in comics within her. Not all that surprising given she’s into the normal things a nine year old girl usually gravitates towards.  But I keep trying.

     My seven year old son, on the other hand, is pretty much all about my hobbies.  Although he’s not especially enamored by the things I’d deem “old school.”  I put on an episode of the original Battlestar Galactica not long ago and his reaction to the special effects was basically, “really Dad?” But all in all, he’s a miniature version of me. I do wonder if, as he gets older, if he’ll stay nerdy along with Dad, or go off in his own direction and leave me in the dust.

      So this all led me to ponder the circumstances that drew me to my “things” (as in “old horror flicks are/aren’t my thang”).  Is the fact that I found them on my own part of what makes them so special?

     Take comics, for example.  Up until I was eight, my mom had bought me a handful of comics here and there. But nothing grabbed me until the summer of 1978 (I was 9).  I spent that summer with my grandparents in Sharon, PA and would accompany my grandpa to the downtown Corner News Stand daily when he’d play his Pick Three lottery numbers.  One day, as I browsed the magazines, I locked onto Sgt. Rock #320. Grandpa bought it for me and I was hooked.

      I must’ve read that comic (and others Grandpa got me) 50 times that summer. The hero/tough guy vibe really resonated with me. Those first comics became my constant companions.  A year later, I conquered my fear of heights and made myself jump off a 10 meter high dive platform by asking myself the question, “What would Sgt. Rock do?”  In hindsight, the answer probably wasn’t, “Enter the water at a 60 degree angle and bruise most of my rib cage in the process.”  But without Rock, I don’t think I’d have jumped. Wait…that semi-belly flop hurt.  A LOT.

Sgt. Rock #320--September, 1978

Sgt. Rock #320–September, 1978

     The next year was kinda slim pickins for me comic-wise until we moved to a new neighborhood in 1980.  A kid down the street named Pat, who was a few years older, approached me as I was sitting in my yard and said “Hey Man, you like comic books?” It turned out he was entering the dating world and needed some extra cash to finance his ladies man lifestyle.  His entire comic collection was on the block for “half cover price,” which was, back then, anywhere from .25 to $1.00–remember DC’s “Dollar Comics?”

     I mowed lawns and walked dogs to scrape together comic book funds and was down at his house several times a week building my comic book empire. Ghost Rider, Uncanny X-Men, JLA, Batman, and Detective–my life was changed.  And at those prices, $10 went a longgggg way.  Today? not so much…but I digress.

     From that point on, except during high school when I took the requisite break from comics (spurred by the increase of cover prices from .40 to .50 cents!), I’ve been a comic lover.  And it’s the comics of my youth that hold a special place in my ol’ heart. There’s just something about the feel, the look, and the smell of those comics from the late 70’s and early 80’s that today’s books don’t inspire in me. Much of today’s comics leave me with that “Meh” feeling.  Give me a Sgt. Rock, Legion of Superheroes or JLA book from the late 70s though and I’ll follow you anywhere.

     Will my kids embrace the same things I love or will they be buying One Direction swag and vintage iPod Touches (to play Minecraft) off eBay in 2043?  In the end, I guess the whole thing’s kinda like an organ transplant.  Maybe it’ll take, or maybe the body will reject it. I think I’ll take my chances and keep putting things in front of my kids that I love and hope they make them their own.  Let’s face it, I need somebody to sit with me in the nursing home one day and talk about something besides the weather and my bunions.

Copyright 2013 It Came From The Nerd Cave