"I live in a small(ish) community in Iowa, where being geeky isn't cool (think corn, mudding & country music). For years I hid my geeky-ness, & what's worse, I tried (really hard at times, to my immense regret now) to suppress the geeky-ness in my son, Hunter. Hunter loves Power Rangers, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Dr. Who & other things I've still never heard of. When he was younger I would try to steer him to Tonka trucks, sports, & tools in an attempt to purge the geeky out so he'd be 'like the other boys.'
"It was to save face for myself & also to get the other boys to not make fun of him so much. Those actions, plus many other mistakes, haven't earned me the Mother of the Year award, I'm sure.
"However, I wanted you to know that since finding Epbot a few years ago, I finally saw that the geek world was immense (and awesome), and that being a card-carrying member was OK. In August my son & I attended the Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago after reading about your con adventures, & I had one of the best times of my life.
"Anyway, I just wanted to say 'Thanks.' Now that I'm not trying to change my son & have embraced his geeky-ness (and my own!) we've gotten much closer, and I'll always credit you & your blog for that."
Wow. It's not an easy thing to put yourself out there like this online, much less admit when you've done something as a parent you're less than proud of, but when I asked Shawna if she'd be comfortable with my sharing her e-mail here she was amazingly positive about it. "Hopefully it will help other kids or adults embrace who they are," she told me, "or maybe help another parent in a similar situation."
She also sent me a few photos of herself and Hunter geeking it up at Wizard World, which gave me a huge grin:
Shawna's note: "My very own domesticated zombies!"
I love Shawna's story so much I could pop, you guys, and not just because it's a reminder of how vital the internet geek community can be. The bond we have with our parents when we're younger stays with us for life, for better or worse, so there's something amazing about seeing kids get the chance to share these kinds of outsider experiences with their parents, especially before the age when it's no longer "cool" to do so. (And Hunter is 14 now, so the fact that he's happily hanging out with his mom also makes me want to get up and cheer.)
My own parents were pretty geeky, raising me on a diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Monty Python, and sci-fi and fantasy books that sparked interests and passions that still rage to this day. They even brought me to my first con, where John Pertwee (Doctor #3) patted my head. Without all those influences, I just wouldn't be the same person I am today.
So, parents? If you're letting your kids lead the way, and drag you to conventions, or weasel another $5 out of you for just one more comic book, or maybe even convince you to wear some crazy costume so you can be a matched set of Jedis or zombies or some characters you've never even heard of, good on you.
And if you find you actually ENJOY that stuff, like Shawna here, so that you and your kids can be big ol' proud, happy geeks together?
Well, now, THAT'S Exemplary.
So tell me, guys, did your parents help spark your geeky interests? If so, how? (My mom first got me hooked on Star Trek books, and today I have nearly three hundred of them.) Tell me in the comments!