My life these days seems to have a fair number of children in it. Many of my girlfriends had babies last year (I believe the final total was 16) so I am often buying baby gifts. I spent a fair bit of time with my niece and this weekend in fact, Boy and I are babysitting as some friends of ours (who have three kids, ages 4 to 10) sneak off for a romantic weekend sans brood.
While I used to babysit hardcore in high school – I even took the babysitting course through our local community centre – I actually went through a long child-free period in my early twenties and am now adapting to the whole experience of dealing with children who are less like peers and more like progeny. Your realms of interest and knowledge become less entertwined and you realize that a lot of your references are lost on people of another generation. In fact, the more time that passes, the more you become accutely aware that you’re going to have to explain a lot of the things you love or that were cultural touchstones when you were growing up. Cartoons, movies, games, toys etc. that you just take for granted as being a part of your life are completely unknown entities to someone who is 4 or 8 or even 10.
As people who are currently child-free, one of the things we often discuss with our clan-laiden friends are how and when to introduce bits of pop culture nerdery to children. Over the course of these conversations, a major topic of contention is Star Wars. There are three schools of thought here:
1) “The Chronies”: People who have championed the idea of showing them in chronological order (1,2,3,4,5,6) because that progression works from bad to good.
2) “The Retroists”: People who say you start old and go new (4,5,6,1,2,3) because that was the way we experienced them.
3) “The Classicals”: People who will under no circumstances show their children the new triology and will aggressively deny the existance of 1,2, and 3.
While we haven’t worked out our own Star Wars strategy yet, we’ve definitely discussed the random bits of nerdery we definitely want to introduce our future spawn. Some things that we love that we want the next generation to love too:
1. Lego/Playmobil: Boy is in Camp Lego and I am in Camp Playmobil. Tying into the Star Wars issue, Boy has an incredibly large collection of Star Wars Lego that he keeps in a glass display case in our apartment and he is exceptionally proud of the fact he has collected many Star Wars minifigs. None of this eBay crap for him! He got those five stormtroopers piece by freaking piece, people! As for me, I have a very large collection of those Victorian Playmobil that is currently being stored at my parents house which is pretty much in mint condition. Though I did not actively play with it, in high school on the ocassional sick day, I would sometimes pull all of it out and set it up to look at it in a nerdy, completist sort of way. It is a weird dream of ours that our children will sort of mesh the two and build a giant lego tower which will be the site of a fight involving Playmobile Dinosaurs and Gladiators.
Too awesome not to post - Playmobil Beatles!
2. Old School Monopoly: None of that crap with debit cards or fancy fake properties. We’re going to plan it with paper money and screw our friends up by building hotels on Park Place. Oh, and I’m going to be the little Scottie dog, thanks!
Whoever came up with this doesn't understand that half the fun of Monopoly is subtly cheating with the paper money!
3. Early Simpsons Episodes: I am good with The Simpsons up to about Season 8 as I think the Hank Scorpio episode was that season. Beyond that, I just don’t care. The longer that the show has been on, the more rambling it’s gotten, the less it’s focused on the core family dynamic and the more deviation from canon there has been. In my mind, Homer and Marge got together in the 1970s after her crappy prom date with Arnie Ziff, not in the 1990s when they lived in a Melrose Place-esqe apartment building and Homer fronted a grunge band. The only grunge references allowed are when Homer tours with Lollapalooza as part of their freak show!
Boy and I often jokingly reference "The Hammock District."
4. The Muppets: One of Boy’s favourite movies is The Muppet Christmas Carol and I have grown to love it as well. We have all the old Muppet movies and we hope that our kids find them charming too. (But Muppets in Space can be forgotten. Sorry Gonzo!)
This is what Christmas is all about - adorable Muppets!
5. Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Making fun of things is one of our favourite things so Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is right up our alley. I’m not sure if our kids are going to be raised in the church of Joel (Boy) or Mike (Me), but it will be an interesting battle.
Boy likes Joel's dry wit and I like Mike's sheer wackiness.
6.The Hunger Games Books: I am a meganerd for these books. In fact, I have a little nerdy token that I wear pinned to my winter coat to show my love of the Suzanne Collins books. I like that they’re so action packed. I like that the main character is a strong girl. I like that neither of the love interests is an obvious dick. Very eager to share them with kids.
If you haven't read these, you are missing out. So much fun.
7. The Terry Prachett Discworld Series: Want to know a secret? The name Boy and I have picked out for if we have a boy some day is partially stolen from a Discworld book. I have only read a handful of his books – maybe 6 – but they really make me laugh and I love pouring over the language of them. The way Prachett can turn a phrase is a thing of beauty.
Librarians say "Ook!"
8. Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High: I specify because I do not care for Degrassi: TNG. As far as I am concerned, Degrassi is all about Spike, Caitlyn, Wheels, Snake, Lucy and a little behatted devil-may-care rapscallion by the name of Joey Jeremiah. I love how the episodes such a time capsule of their era and I love how stripped down everything looks, which is probably my biggest complaint about the new series. Childhood/teenage years are often pretty messy and I like that they have such a straight forward, non-glossy attitude about them. Super watchable.
How adorably retro!
9. Retro Kids Movies: I didn’t want to do separate list items for all of them, so I am lumping them all together. The Sandlot, Return to Oz, The Wizard, The Goonies, Labrynth, Troop Beverly Hills, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Ghostbusters, E.T., and The Princess Bride will all be watched with reverence.
I watched this a while ago, and it's still kind of great. "The kid is an L7 weenie!"
10. Cthulhu/Conan: Boy is really obsessed with the writing of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, so he wants to introduce whatever kids we have to their stuff. I am not quite sure how it’s not going to be total nightmare fuel, but I at least have some ideas about good things to start them with . . .
A Children's Book based on some of Lovecraft's Mythology. Because that needs to exist.
So bloggerinos, what kind of things can’t you wait to introduce your offspring/extended family/friends kids to? Let me in on your nerdy childhood obsessions!
P.S. Also, if you haven’t seen this, it needs to be watched. What kid didn’t try to use the force after seeing Star Wars for the first time?
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