Eek! My Son Is a Geek
My 7-year-old son came home from school yesterday beaming. He rushed over to me to show me what was making him so happy. He held out a small booklet with a big picture of an egg on it. Chess club had started that afternoon and he was thrilled to have some "chess homework." I spent about 10 minutes looking at the tiny diagrams of chessboards, each slightly different, and each captioned, "What's the best next move?" I flipped the book closed and looked at the cover again. "Why the egg?" I asked. Kayne rambled on about how first they're eggs then they get to be snakes when they finish the next(!) booklet, then something and something else, until they're finally some kind of chess master monster, presumably hatched from the egg on the cover of their first instructional booklet.
"Wow, honey. That's great," I said to him.
Ohhhh. I get it ...
Egghead, I thought to myself.
You understand, don't you? You know what it's like to love your kid like crazy but still think, "Where in the world did this creature come from?!" Ever since my son was a baby, I've taken him to hear music of all kinds. We've gone to live theater, puppet shows, magic shows, art classes, gymnastics classes and dance classes. He has a shiny red bike and balls of all sizes and a baseball mitt and a scooter. He has stacks of books. Board games, puzzles, magnets. Legos. He's shown a passing interest in many of these things. But what makes his face light up? That chess homework. Math homework. Complicated books full of science experiments. And his binder of 864 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
I've got to face it. My son's a geek. His happiest moment of any week is the Saturday afternoon Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament at a local comic store. He gets thrills and satisfaction by playing a very complicated (did someone say nerdy?) card game against sullen 12- to 16-year-old boys who mumble to one another in low voices and flip nonstop through their Yu-Gi-Oh! decks.
Sometimes it is hard for me when I'm with other boys my son's age and they're telling me how excited they are about their guitar lessons or soccer games. I'm jealous of how easy it must be for their parents to understand and appreciate what their kids are up to. I want to be able to share in my son's interests with authentic enthusiasm. But the truth is my eyes glaze over as soon as the conversation turns to numbers and formulas.
I look at the chess booklet again and read, "What's the best next move?" I think about how I could keep forcing my son to attend cultural events that are interesting to me in hopes it will spark something in him. I could also wipe that glazed look off my face and ask him to teach me how to play chess.