....and when they are older they'll watch Star Trek re-run marathons with you. ;)
You've been raising this kid for what seems like forever. You see some things that strike you a little odd, and you wonder? Is that what they're all doing? Or are they a geek? How can you tell?
There are as many kinds of geek as there are kids, but there are some similarities. These are by no means absolute signposts on the way to tape-repaired glasses. Here are a few indicators that your child may be heading that direction:
My eldest son went on an activity with "the guys" from church this last weekend. For two whole days it was the just the guys, with all that that implies. He came back and was telling us all about it, and his first point gave a great example of what I'm talking about here.
He says, "Have you ever seen this town?" [Leavenworth, Washington]
Well, I hadn't but his brother had. He turns to me and exclaims, "You wouldn't believe it. It's like Du Loc incarnate!"
We all started laughing. We all knew exactly what he was talking about. In the film "Shrek", the realm of the bad guy (Lord Farquad) is called "Du Loc" and it is sort of a Disney-like realm in that cute little Snow White/Bavarian theme, complete with a little display that sings a cute little song about the rather draconian town rules. Leavenworth is a little tourist-trap town that dresses up like Bavaria and has a huge Christmas show every year. Knowing he was in the company of people who would understand, rather than going on for fifteen minutes describing faux-Bavarian architecture, he used a pop-culture simile to shortcut his description of the town.
Intensity of Hobbies
All kids get intense about the activities they enjoy and they will do them for frightening numbers of hours. There are geeky depths that you can hardly imagine, though. And with the way technology is being integrated into the schools and children's lives, just being computer literate is not a dead give-away anymore. Some ways you can tell if you're raising a geek rather than just a tech-savvy teen:
- If your child makes up his own emoticons for his email and messaging, he's probably just a regular teen who has spent some time on a messaging program or text-messaging his buddies on his cell phone. If he makes his own custom smiley images in Photoshop and knows how to integrate them with his messaging program he's a nascent geek.
- If your child can pull a 540 melon grab at the skatepark, he's a teen (and a fairly hardcore skater punk). If he's coded his own bit-hack of Tony Hawk Pro-Skater 4 on his PC so he can do infinite rotations, he's a nascent geek. Actually, if he understands that last sentence, watch him closely.
- If he uses the word "reboot" in it's correct context or if your child knows what SDRAM is he got a decent grade in Tech class in school. If he uses the word "kernel" (and isn't talking about popcorn), that's a warning. If he knows who Linus Torvalds or Nathan Myhrvold is, he's most likely a hardcore computer geek.
- If your child watches a TV show religiously to the point of scheduling their social life around it, they're just a teen (and most of the adults I know, too). Posters on the wall, computer desktop art, games, etc are all part of the normal teen range of experience. If they know the episode number of the show you're watching or if they point out continuity errors in reference to another episode of the show they're a geek.
Use of the Language:
If your teen uses words in ways you've never thought of, or seems to be dropping consonants all over the place, don't worry. They're ALL doing it. If your teen uses 'l33t speak, he's actually less likely to be a geek. Most geeks consider it pretensious and a sure sign of a newbie trying to fit in and look cool.
The good news is, other than making sure they don't do anything to harm themselves with their hobbies there is little or no difference between raising a geek and raising a more median teen. They're ALL pretty odd at that age.