Growing Up Geek — You Can’t Fight Nerd Genes

Today was W’s first Christmas party. It took place in the department where her daddy and I both work at the university. I got her all dressed up in a little skirt and an awesomely geeky shirt that I had made for her, which spells her name using atomic symbols from the periodic table. The shirt was a big hit with my co-workers, but it was, after all, a chemistry department party.

Anyway, all this got me thinking a little bit about my beautiful little girl and the family into which she was born. Her daddy and I are geeks, pure and simple. We were the “other” kids — not the popular kids — in high school. Neither one of us got invited to the parties the cool kids threw, and my prom date was a male friend, while my husband didn’t attend his prom at all. Of course, some of the kids who are weird in high school are the ones who are most interesting afterward (probably because we have to work harder in order to make friends). In the end, while growing up geek kind of sucked at the time, I wouldn’t change a thing about my social experiences in retrospect.

All of which brings me to my daughter. She comes from a family full of scientists, and we all tend to be more analytical than is considered “cool” among the popular kids. Furthermore, we’re readers — my husband and I have walls of books where most people have a TV — and we’re rarely up on pop culture. I certainly won’t prevent my child from watching TV at friends’ houses, but I’m not going to buy one just to ensure that she can get her daily dose of programming. Instead, I will continue to read with her (as I do now), and will hope that as she gets older, she starts sneaking books under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime, just as I did. Am I setting her up to be strange? I’m not going out of my way to try to turn her into a nerd, but the odds aren’t in her favor.

I want my daughter to have a wonderful childhood. I want her to be spared the pain of social ostracization (because if high school was barely tolerable for me, elementary and middle school were torturous, socially-speaking). I want her to enjoy a big circle of friends, as that’s one of the lovely things life has to offer. But I also want to raise a socially conscious thinker. An observer, a philosopher, a constructer of theories and considerer of ideas, regardless of the career path she chooses. I won’t go out of my way to make her not fit in with her childhood peers, but I’m trying to anticipate the possibility that she won’t, and to prepare myself for the heartache of watching her go through what I went through, trying so desperately to fit in, to no avail. As a mother, I want her to have a wonderful childhood, but more than that, I want her to have a beautiful life. Should she end up going down the same social path I did when I was young, I’ll have to remind myself of where that path leads, and how much strength of character it takes to be different when your peers put so much emphasis on being the same.

I’ll just have to wait and see what happens, and I know she’ll be a wonderful person no matter what she does…but a tiny little part of my heart hopes she’ll fly her geek flag proudly, just like mama and daddy.


What do you hope your child does (or doesn’t!) have in common with you?




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Megyn @Minimalist Mommi
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 04:47:57

    This is so sweet!

    I too grew up in a family of “nerds.” If kids weren’t in the honors/AP classes, I never knew them. There were tons of kids I never even met in high school, just because I never had a chance to be in a “normal” class. I had a hard time growing up with my geeky parents. They loved to read, watch Star Trek, sing to musicals, etc. I wanted to be active, play sports, and do anything but read. I was part of a group that I’d like to call the cool nerds. We had the popular geeks (the ones in advanced classes that had the style & looks), the cool nerds (I liked to consider us the partying smart kids), and then there were the stereotypical geeks/nerds…and the general “normals” lol. As much as I was embarrassed by my nerdy parents, I appreciate them so much more as an adult. They pushed where I needed it and taught me to be independent and think for myself. I’d much rather have my geeky Trekkie parents over parents who push their kids to be cool (I actually have a friend whose mom forced her to put on makeup before she could leave the house-no joke!).

    I’m sure you’re little one will turn out great, no matter which group she ends up in 🙂


  2. Ariane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 16:15:26

    “Nerd genes can’t be stopped.” -Michael von L


    W will be great, socially AND intellectually speaking. Look at her wonderful parents!


  3. Trackback: Only Child, Lonely Child? |

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