“So, this one time, at band camp…”
This is a joke that has been made frequently at my house over the years, ever since my daughter, Clementine, first attended camp four years ago. Now, thanks to the fact that the youngest member of our family has just finished his first week at camp, this joke looks to have gained a whole new half-life. (Technically, since both my kids play stringed instruments they go to music camp, not band camp, but we believe in keeping our jokes pure around here.) Of course, even if my son hadn’t gone to music camp (as if), we would probably still keep making the joke, since over time it has morphed into our favorite way to tease a member of the family who is geeking out on anything at all, from SuperWhoLock, to Minecraft, to GofT.
Usually the joke is made at the point when when someone starts speaking of their current obsession in either hushed, rapturous, tones or high-pitched squeals (okay, the squealing almost always comes from the female half of the family). And it is almost always done with affection and tolerance. Because why? Because geeking out is cool, that’s why.
Ever since Clementine and I first dressed up to attend the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter book almost ten years ago, I have been a fan of geeking out. I have been more than willing to stand in line in the snow with people dressed as Hobbits, argue the merits of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, and get into serious debates about the best Batman villain. I have pulled my kids out of school for Marvel Marathons, written to Daniel Radcliffe’s agent asking for a personalized Christmas card (and gotten it), and spent countless hours on Cafe Press and Etsy looking for the perfect Geek Gift. And I have not regretted a minute of it.
Edmund White once said “I have no contempt for that time of life when our friendships are the most passionate and our passions incorrigible and none of our sentiments yet comprised by greed or cowardice or disappointment. The volatility and intensity of adolescence are qualities we should aspire to preserve.” And I couldn’t agree more.
There are some things we will never have to teach. Cynicism. Hopelessness. Despair. These things, unfortunately, seem to come naturally to most people, given enough time. And just because I believe we should prepare our kids for the fact that the outside world will never be as easy or forgiving as the tight world of their family and friends doesn’t mean I want them to “grow up, already.” Especially if “growing up” means leaving behind the things you feel really passionate about.
It always makes me said when I see an adult that is “too cool” to genuinely like anything, but when I see it that same aloofness in a child it is actually a little but devastating. If you don’t have room in your life to be an absolute(-ly annoying) authority on all things Percy Jackson at age nine, what is ever going to really capture your imagination at age twenty-nine? Or fifty-nine?
Besides, there is just something so accepting about the geek world. Although they might go to the mat over which slash pairing has the best fan fiction, it’s not like you’re going to be left all on your own in the lunchroom just because you’re a diehard Kirk/Spock fan. At least, you won’t be left alone by the other geeks.
In fact, lately I’ve been thinking that next year might be the year my family finally makes the ultimate geek pilgrimage to the San Diego ComicCon. That way we can all experience the very best in geeking out together. And also, I’ll finally be able to say to them, “So this one time, at ComicCon…”