Happy Star Wars Day, everyone.
Last night I was up at 2am happily making Artoo and Darth Maul costumes for my children to wear today when I got this pang of insecurity. The same thing happened last Halloween as I prepared to take my son to the comic shop in his Wolverine costume. I worried the other geeks would make negative comments, point out flaws, quiz us to see if we were “real fans.” I haven’t always had the best experiences as a “geek girl,” so much so that I’ve spent half my life miserably repressing myself.
Today at the comic shop there were easily 35-40 males in the store for free comic book day. Including myself and my 1 year old daughter, there were only 4 females.
When we went to Toys R Us for the free Star Wars Lego mini kit event, there were dozens of participants, only one of which was female. Even the accompanying parents were mostly men.
Days like today are a real eye-opener. It can be easy to forget that not everyone is a geek. Now days, parts of geek culture are considered main stream.
You can buy your baby a geeky board book from just about any bookstore, you can buy your child a geeky teddy bear at the mall. Both Marvel and Star Wars have recently been bought out by Disney; Avengers lunch boxes and Jedi action figures are being sold along side Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
Every once in awhile, I get too comfortable. I reference something I think is common knowledge to another parent at the playground and I see the look of confusion on their face. Or worse, I see my son struggle to engage his peers in play because they have no clue who (for example) Jubilee or Juggernaut are.
One would believe, given that I know how lonely it can be to be a geek, that I wouldn’t expose my children to these things. That I’d encourage them towards more “normal” interests.
The truth is, I don’t get to decide that. My job as parent is to teach my children about the world around them and to support their interests.
SunnyGirl is still too young to tell. She has blocks, dolls, cars, tutus, balls….and a Wonder Woman board book. Right now she likes them all. We’ll see in a few years where her interests lay.
LittleMan on the other hand, is undoubtedly a geek. I can’t force him to play with his trucks instead of his action figures, I can’t forbid him to spend his allowance on a TMNT comic book. Well…I could. But I won’t.
As a child, my parent’s mantra towards me seemed to be, “calm down.”
When I found something I liked, I obsessed, I studied, I wanted to know EVERYTHING about it, I wanted to do everything I could with it. My parents didn’t understand. I was scolded, I was discouraged, I was shamed. I tried to turn it off. I tried to be more normal. But I couldn’t not be me.
For years I thought there was something wrong with me.
I never want to be the person who tells my children to “calm down” when they are passionate about something- anything. I never want to discourage them from pursuing something that excites them or fascinates them.
Still, I worry.
I watch as non-geek women I know are often downright mean to their geek husbands about things that they are passionate about. I worry for my son, worry that his spouse might one day be cruel to him when he geeks-out.
I talk to my geek-girl friends and I hear horror stories about being bullied or sexually assaulted rather than accepted by their male-geek peers. I worry for my daughter, worry that she may struggle with acceptance the way that I and my fellow geek-girls have.
There are things that give me hope though. Like this video clip of Wil Wheaton explaining to a baby girl why its awesome to be a geek:
I literally cried when I watched this, and I’m not usually the crying type.
Resolutions are generally made at the beginning of a new year but I’m going to go ahead and make a resolution right now: I resolve to be a better example of confidence for my children. If I can relax and have fun doing the things I enjoy doing without caring about how others see me, then perhaps my children might stand a better chance at not wasting years hiding who they are the way I have.by