I’m trying to wear both my geek-errific propeller hat and my “Kiss the Cook” dad-apron at the same time for this post.
Geek parenting is pretty much the coolest genre-merge you can get. It’s a mash-up of watching Avengers together, teaching kids how to read using Star Wars books and pride in getting your butt kicked in Mario games. My kids are an eclectic product of great 80′s rock, comic books, home-depot tool shopping, please & thank you and fart jokes. It’s just the reality we live (and play) in.
Because I would like to start to share my geekitude with my children (comic stores, conventions, video games, etc) I need to start preparing appropriate approaches, a “roadmap” of experiences and safety to ensure it goes smoothly.
We have a few within town. The very first time we went in, I will admit, it was thrilling to watch the boys absorb the whole experience. It really is a pretty cool, imagination mecca. As they walk in, they pass the mugs, posters, cards, figurines, hats, plushies, and trinkets for pretty much every hero ever inked. As we (eventually) passed, they were hit by the rows upon rows of comic dream that assaulted their 1 metre midgethood. Comic stores are a GREAT way to introduce your kids (boys and girls) to geekification because there’s lots to choose from, the rules can be pretty clear (ask first) and it’s pretty cheap. (There is a standing rule when we go, they can pick 2 comics of their (papa approved) choice. Most stores worth their salt also have a “bargain bin” where you can really kickstart the kids collection at about 25 cents an issue. Grab a ton. We do a local hotdog stand after to read and enjoy.
PS. My opinion: Save the comic-condoms for your own collection. Let them enjoy, slop ketchup on them, and crinkled pages. It’s the experience, not the investment.
There are so many conventions around now, its insane. Any major city has enough to keep you in a once or twice a year rhythm for the kids to get excited about. For us, (I’ve only done one with the kids so far), we have about a 1.5 hour trip into Toronto and we have some pretty major events at our disposal. I make a trip out of it, we take the commuter train in (which is an experience for them by itself!) and away we go.
There are some immediate convention rules they MUST follow. Both the boys have the rules memorized (I start a couple weeks before with reminders/tests).
- Rule 1 – Stay together and hold hands.
- Rule 2 – If you get lost, stay put and yell for Papa. (or blow your whistle)
- Rule 3 – Have Fun.
I’m kind of a helicopter parent, but trust me, I feel better knowing they know them. The other things I’d recommend, is get cameras. For the boys, one has his own camera (one of those 30 dollar Walmart ones) and the other has a used iPhone I got online. (was $50 ,no Sim) Incidentally, with the iPhone, I can track it’s GPS (if I wanted). It’s a REAL hoot to sit as a family and view all their pictures after from their perspective!
Lastly, don’t be a cheap bastard. Make a plan (They can have 1 or 2 specific things) and it’s fun to look for them. Last time, they both wanted a super hero shirt and a travel mug with top (bout 50 dollars total).
I love em. But my video games are not their video games. I know that as a kid movie ratings were always (from my perspective) abit overkill. I was quite comfortable watching PG-13 movies when I was 10. Now however, you should put your parent hat on, not your 10 year old hat.
Video games, as an immersive technology, can have a tremendous impact to children. I don’t believe that playing GTA is going to make them mass murderers or suicidal, but I do believe that it affects their language, play and acceptable behaviour. There is also a positive spin on “appropriate games”. TONS of games are created specifically for children to help them either learn (Many (hard!) maze & puzzle games on the iPad for example) or are just plain fun (and build hand/eye coordination -Mario Cart for Wii!). I can’t stress enough. Be a part of their video game play and not only will they have MORE fun enjoying it with you, they will have a positive experience, gain a keen edge in technology use that will be very beneficial when they are older, and gain you points in your Spiderman iPad game that you can spend on gear while they are asleep. (Don’t show them the store in settings… just a tip) :)
Lastly (and this goes for movies as well). There’s plenty of talk on how much time kids should watch movies/video games a day. I think it’s a personal decision and what fits for your family dynamic, but a good scientific rule of thumb: Don’t be an idiot. Kids needs tons of physical activity and real play. When they as you, get your ass off the couch once in a while. :)
Probably our biggest vice in this house. I LOVE geek movies. I also LOVE kids geek movies. I remember as a kid watching Star Wars. After my grandmother saw how much I loved it, she bought it on VHS for when I came over. (She rocked). I saw it so many times that the quality of the tape degraded. Today, There are SO many high quality kids geek flicks out there you literally could not watch them all.
We (big surprise) have an affinity for superhero movies. I’ve found SO many cartoon hero movies out there if interested with a great range of levels of violence and action. Probably the best suggestion I can give is, if it’s on TV during the day, it’s pretty safe for kids. But (and this is VERY difficult unless I have popcorn) watch the show first, at least a taste to get a good sense if it’s ok. I’m a big fan of the Free TV Project, but there is a plethora of online sites to watch TV shows. (XMen and Justice League are a good start.) :)
After that and as they grow older, fill your boots with the (tons) of other (more violent…) movies out there from Avengers tv show, Star Wars Clone Wars to the single release hero movies (Planet Hulk, Thor, JLA, Superman/Batman flicks (many).). I haven’t been able to convert them to Star Wars passion yet. Definitely a geek dad failure. :(
That’s a good start! I welcome arguments and comments! (Otherwise see you on the train to FanExpo next weekend!)