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5 possible reasons why today’s dads are raising their children as geeks

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva—Chicago’s coolest geek.

If it seems like this blog has taken a decidedly geeky turn the past few weeks, it’s because my parenting has taken a decidedly geeky turn lately, and my daughter is very happy about it.

It is springtime, you see, when a modern dad’s fancy turns to thoughts of cosplaying, vibranium androids, local comic book shops, zombie pub crawls and Star Wars holidays, evidently.

There has been a rash of geek events and sacraments lately, and they’ve provided a great opportunity for some daddy/daughter dorkiness. This past week was littered with geeky goodness, and Viva came along for most of it.

Let’s take a look at what went down in the world of Midichlorian Counts and Infinity Gems, and try to figure out how geekiness ate fatherhood.

A few weeks ago, I told you that another dad talked me into taking Viva to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

I’d seen other Dads bring their kids on Facebook, and it looked great. I’d just introduced Viva to Star Wars via the Episode VII trailer, and she was more than happy to dress like Princess Leia and spend the day getting her picture taken with everyone, from Stay Puft to Judge Dredd. (We just had a long talk about Ghostbusters, and she actually called out Slimer—or “Slimey” in Viva talk—for being a traitor to his species for hanging out with a team that “puts ghosts in traps.” I had no idea Ghostbusters was so political.)

Last Thursday, I did something I’m theoretically becoming too old and responsible for and went to see a late night showing of the two-and-a-half-hour long Avengers: Age of Ultron. My apologies to my 8 a.m. lecture class. I probably told them Henry Pym wrote Carousel.

I was very fortunate to see it with two comic book creators living right here in Chicago—fellow geeky dad, Mike Moreci (whose excellent sci-fi noir, Roche Limit #1, just became available in trade paperback), and Tim Seeley, (Hack/Slash, Batman Eternal) whose work I’ve followed since his days drawing my favorite geeky thing—G.I. Joe.

Both Moreci and Seeley really liked the movie. It was interesting to watch two guys with discerning taste in comic-based stuff spend much more time celebrating all the film’s smart and effective choices rather than complaining about differences between the film and the comics that inspired it like your average angry internet forum member.

Viva is a little young for Avengers, but she was excited that Daddy was going to see “The Captain America and Iron Man movie with his friends.”

Daddy needed a break from Max & Ruby and Sid the Science Kid. I look forward to the day she can sit next to me drinking a $15 soda and watching whatever phase of Marvel movie comes out in 2025. (Maybe I’ll get a Moon Knight movie by then?)

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, when comic retailers ship boxes of free comics for varying ages to local shops, likely in an effort to find more readers who aren’t manchildren north of 35 like me.

We, of course, went to Edgewater’s own Third Coast Comics, where owner Terry Gant suggested we get there early and encouraged the wearing of costumes, which meant—boom!—Viva’s Princess Leia drag got a second wear.

He wasn’t kidding – the doors opened at 11 a.m., and when we got there at 11:05 a.m., the line was down the block. But inside, free comics were plentiful, and a number of local creators were signing and sketching.

We left with not only a signed Dinosaur Sheriff by Will Porter, but also with a Dragon and Goat pin for the diaper bag after meeting creator Adam Fotos.

My proudest moment came when Viva recognized a Doctor Who comic and earned her geek cred by shouting, “I love Doctor Who!” (Disclaimer: I don’t actually let her watch Doctor Who, as much as I contemplated dropping $50 on a photo with Sylvester McCoy at C2E2.)

Meanwhile, over in Andersonville, one of my neighbors had left the kids home with mom as he shambled along in a zombie pub crawl. We’re a different breed of father these days.

The capper for the week came on May the Fourth, now known commonly as Star Wars Day (May the Fourth by with you!). We decided an all-ages Star Wars party needed to be thrown. A quick trip to Pinterest for some recipe and favor ideas and a quick trip to Party City for a 36-inch R2D2 balloon, and we were off to the Podraces.

Check out the WDP Pinterest page to see our Death Star watermelon, Sarlacc Bundt Cake, Lightsaber dipped pretzels and bubble wands and more! I can’t believe I made a kid party Pinterest page. I guess there’s no turning back from Parenthood now.

Meanwhile, Viva looked for images from her favorite Star Wars scene—the “Greg Skywalker and the Garbage Smasher”—as represented in the pages of Chicago artist Jeffrey Brown’s Vader’s Little Princess.

So while the kids hit each other with lightsaber pool noodles, the dads watched a bootleg DVD of ’70s and ’80s Star Wars toy commercials (remember how they would dig cool holes in fake yards and then play with the toys?) and enjoyed our other favorite form of geekery: Craft Beer Geekery with Begyle’s new Edgewater Pale Ale and Pipework’s appropriately named Space Age Bachelor Pad Danish Modern Cocktail Party Belgian Strong Pale Ale.

It was a week of geek and a week to remember.

So, why is it that nearly every Dad I know if bringing up their kids as geeks? I’ve got a few theories:

1. We Gen Xers, as one of the first generations ever to largely not see armed combat, never put away childish things. And because we don’t spend our nights waking up to nightmares about the beaches we stormed, we instead spend our nights watching Venture Brothers and wondering if Ice Pirates was the classic we remember. (Spoiler: It isn’t.)

2. We Gen Xers, as megalomaniacs, demand our kids enjoy what we enjoyed at their age. And damn it, Viva, you’re going to learn to love the Alan Quartermain movies and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.

3. Marketers and retailers, realizing that geeks spend a fortune on toys, hoodies, DVDs and drinkware, have moved “Geek” to the middle of culture, so that everyone will buy toys, hoodies, and drinkware. And who doesn’t need Ant Man hoodies and drinkware? I know I do!

4. The colorful, whimsical, imaginative worlds of sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes are a great subject for dads and kids to bond over. Sure, they’re extremely violent, but you know who loves violence more than anyone? Kids. Seriously—go pay attention on the playground.

5. This is all a big mind control experiment. Probably by the Beyonders. Or the Cylons. Or Cold Slither.

Let’s go with all five being true. Whatever the reason, geekiness is as an important part of fatherhood as C3POs cereal was an important part of a balanced ’80s breakfast.

And I didn’t hear the kids complaining as they ate their Sarlacc bundt cake!

If you’ve enjoyed this Parenting Media Association Award Winning blog, subscribe to the WDP podcast (One of Podbean’s 10 most downloaded Parenting Podcasts worldwide and an iTunes staff pick for best Parenting humor) for free on iTunes, or listen at whitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.)

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