“Dad, Simon and Caden got to see the new Star Trek movie! Why can’t I!?”
“Why can Noah watch Star Wars the Clone Wars and I can’t?”
“Can we go see Avengers 2?”
These are the types of questions I deal with on a regular basis from my 10 year old son Josiah. My life as a geek is a simple one. When there is a show or movie that I am interested in, I watch it. My life as a geek father is much more complicated. In all honesty, I do make it a bit more difficult by being fairly strict about the things I allow my children to watch. Then there are my personal geek preferences: Star Trek over Star Wars, DC over Marvel, Green Lantern over…everyone. As my son gets older, I am realizing that this is going to be more difficult than I thought it would be? How do I raise a young geek to have his own interests and not just imitating me? How do I expose him to all the wonders of the geekdom while keeping in mind age appropriateness? How do I keep him from ever being interested in things like Twilight!?
Recently, I decided to let Josiah start watching Star Wars. The question that any true geek father should struggle with is: “Do I start them with Episode IV or Episode I?”. For those who don’t know, Star Wars began it’s story in 1977 with Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999 as part one of a prequel trilogy. If I was starting to watch Star Wars for the first time, I would prefer to start at the beginning with Episode I and worked my way through the story as it unfolded from young Anakin Skywalker on to Luke and Leia Skywalker. My concern with starting with Episode I, was that the newer trilogy is much more visually stunning then the original trilogy. Josiah is a 10 year old boy and he is much more drawn to visual effects than acting and story telling. The risk of starting with Episode I is that he would love the look and then when we get to Episode IV, he would be disgusted with the much less appealing look of them. Ultimately, I decided to start with Episode I because I had no real reason not to, my preference won out here.
So while I struggle with issues like what Star Wars movie to start with, I also have a struggle between what I want to watch with my son and what is age appropriate for him. I have wanted to watch Jurassic Park with him for years but was unsure if it was ok. Not really any language or nudity to worry about but maybe it is too scary. I am confident that he could handle it now but I know of kids who were able to see that movie when they were 5. It is important to know the character of your kids to make decisions like this. You can’t let your desire to watch the movie with them decide wether or not your child is ready for a particular film. For example, Josiah could watch Jurassic Park now but his sister, Sydney, will not be ready at the same age. Sydney struggles more with scary images than her big brother and I am sure that, even at 10, this will still be a struggle for her. As I said earlier, I am very strict about what I let my kids watch and this makes it very difficult to get Josiah in to as much of the geekdom as I would like. I have been beyond grateful and excited about the way that Marvel has done their films! They have managed to make movies that stay true to the source material, are visually stunning, are clear of all unnecessary sexual content, and have really no inappropriate language.
I also think it is important to watch these things together. Josiah and I began watching the Marvel movies last year and have made it through Captain America with Avengers next on our list. I have loved watching these movies with him and am enjoying seeing him develop into a geek. It is great to see him take in all the action and then ask questions like: “Who is better? Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark?” and “Why is Loki such a jerk?”. I am blessed with two awesome kids who seem to both embrace the geek culture. Even though I try to not push my preferences on them they have still embraced some of my favorites like Star Trek and Green Lantern. I have watched a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation with them and they genuinely seem excited about it. Sydney actually really likes Lt. Commander Data! Josiah is constantly asking me questions about the Green Lantern universe. I am loving every minute of this journey and can’t wait to see how my kids develop as people but also as geeks. I do fear that some day Josiah will come to me and say something ridiculous like, “Guy Gardner is the best earth Green Lantern”!!! Not sure how I will handle that. Thanks for reading and I really would love to hear about the decisions you all are making for your children.
You can follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonBarwick