As fatherhood nears, a geek grows up
One of our favorite snarky writers here at TampaBay.com, Josh Gillin, is about to get a wake-up call. The video-game loving fanboy and his lovely wife are expecting their first child. Josh is a jack-of-all-trades around here, doing everything from editing, to writing very funny TV listings to reviewing video games and poking fun at self-absorbed celebrities at the helm of the popular gossipy celeb blog The Juice. Now he'll have to put those multi-tasking skills to work on the homefront.
We loved this column he wrote recently on how he expects his life to change, and how it won't:
Being a geek is all about obsession.
Obsession about movies, or comic books, or Dr Pepper. I, for one, have spent years obsessing about motorcycles and martial arts and, most recently for this newspaper, video games.
But I’m at a crucial turning point in my life, when my geekiness will soon be tested with a new obsession: My first child.
This event horizon has been reached after years of midnight horror movie festivals and Adult Swim anime marathons, after purchasing dozens of dorky T-shirts and spending untold dollars on toys and trinkets that reference some nebulous nerdworld. Over the course of the past eight months, my routine has changed from absentmindedly daydreaming about zombieproofing our house to building a nursery, and from wasting cash trying out burger and sushi joints to hoarding funds for 529 plans and poring over potential life insurance policies.
In a nutshell, I’m becoming what every geek secretly doesn’t want to be: A responsible adult.
Not that I’m at all ambivalent about any of this. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare. I’ve recently sailed through four seasons of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix and made my peace with limited playing time on my Xbox 360 (it hasn’t hurt that the PlayStation Network has been down for the better part of the last month). I’ve all but deserted the local multiplex and gave up my graphic novel addiction long ago. Those things will always be there, but for now, there is no time.
What is troubling, however, is how I see other parents turning all this geekcentric energy onto their children, unleashing a cult of babydom that easily rivals even the most diehard Star Wars fan. Instead of being parents, they treat their new children like cult objects, giving over every spare second to scheduling their child’s tiniest move, foregoing all adult contact by observing and recording every waking moment and posting it on YouTube for all the world to never watch again. This, I will grant, disturbs me.
It’s easy for me, the rookie dad, to say that is not the way it should be. I surely will become a hypocrite to some extent, engaging in some of this very same behavior as I proudly tout the tiny life I helped create. But the geek inside will remain not only unthwarted, but likely augmented by endless episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba! and countless readings of Goodnight, Moon.
My wife and I made a promise to each other, that we would love our children and devote our lives to them, but that we would keep some part of our previous selves intact. My own father always kept at least a little time for himself, whether it be to read a Western novel or simply take a nap. He never ignored me — in fact, he was quite doting — but it was always understood that he was his own person, not a slave to his children. He was to be respected and looked up to, not be beholden to his offspring’s every whim at a moment’s notice.
That means I will still take time to watch a samurai movie or play an online death match in the latest Call of Duty, but there will be a rebalancing of these pursuits. That actual calibration won’t be up to me, but I understand it will happen.
The glorious part of this transformation is that some day, years from now, my child will see my geekiness in action and maybe, just maybe, want to sit and watch old episodes of The Macross Saga with me. Because in the end, every kid has a phase where they would want to pilot a Veritech with dear old dad.
— Joshua Gillin writes about video games and entertainment news. Feel free to challenge his opinions at firstname.lastname@example.org.