My son does his distance learning from my room, because we discovered early in the school year that it’s the way to make him do his distance learning. I keep half an ear on what he’s doing no matter what I’m doing, again to make sure he’s doing what he’s supposed to do. The morning I wrote this, his class was assigned to write paragraphs about what job they might want when they grew up. His teacher was giving examples of things they could keep saying to fill the time if they finished their five sentences with time left, and she suggested talking about what they’d wear. She asked if they’d have a cool hat, and my first thought was, “When I grow up, I want to work for the Lady Heterodyne and be a Jägermonster.”
Either you’re laughing at that or you’re not. (For those who aren’t, it’s a reference to the webcomic Girl Genius, wherein the Jägerkin are constructs that serve the Heterodyne family. They have a Thing about hats.) There’s this belief, though, that parents aren’t going to get it, because parents don’t get to be geeks. And I’ll admit that there are plenty of groups of parents I’ve been in where none of them share my interests, but the fact is, geeks have children and become parents, and if we aren’t dominating the conversation in parenting groups, well, we talk to each other.
And oh, but we recognize our own. When Zane was two, he was in a playgroup. His teacher was putting on blue food service gloves, and I muttered under my breath, “Two by two, hands of blue.” The parent next to me lit up and said, “I think that every time!” But she hadn’t said it. Probably in part because, you know, she had better filters than I do. But also because she didn’t expect anyone to get her reference, and I simply didn’t care if anyone did or didn’t. It was funny to me, and if I said it, maybe I’d find someone who’d get it.
In a way, I think it’s really nice that adults are no longer expected to stop liking things they liked as kids and are allowed to think about them on an individual basis. Yes, I’ve had the conversation with my son about how the things he hates that his younger sister loves are often things he loved when he was her age, and he’s just matured and isn’t on their wavelength anymore. But these days, if a thing was well made in the first place, why shouldn’t you keep enjoying it as an adult? It doesn’t need to be a guilty pleasure. I have a lot of friends who are bonding with their kids over Pokemon or similar, and more power to them.
Conversely, I can share things with my son that I know he’ll enjoy because they are akin to his own interests. This isn’t tracking down clips of Burgess Meredith as the Penguin because the noise he makes when he’s whining is a Penguin noise. This is tracking down clips of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman because the Catwoman on DC Super Hero Girls is clearly based on Eartha Kitt. (His observation was that he sounds like Yzma. Perceptive child. Especially since I’d already told him she was the voice of Yzma.) This is connecting him with my sister on Minecraft.
I mean, I’m still my kids’ parent, and that means that there are times when I have to tell my kids things aren’t appropriate for them. But if I don’t let my kids watch everything with superheroes even though it’s something we all love, well, I can talk to other parents about those things. We recognize each other because our kids aren’t the only ones walking around in fan T-shirts. These days, we’re refusing to feel shamed. We’re not pretending we’re only watching those things “with the kids.” There’s no sense that we have to leave our interests behind when we bring kids into the world. There’s nothing we can’t enjoy just because we’re parents.
Okay, my partner’s never going to bond with the other dads no matter what, because he’s not a talker. But he’d be more likely to bond with them about anime than sports, and it’s really nice that we’re starting to agree that it’s okay for dads to like that. The only real danger is still acting like children about them, I guess, and I’m working with my seven-year-old on not shaming people for, say, not having a comprehensive knowledge of Pokemon.