The other day, my friend Jenny asked me an interesting question. Honestly, it was one I’d never even thought about before. She wanted to know, “What it’s like being a nerdy mother?”
Now, she says nerdy, I say geeky. But for the sake of argument in this blog, they are interchangeable.
I’ve been a geek, in it’s various incarnations, for just about as long as I can remember: a band geek, a gaming geek, and your general all-around geek. But when she asked me that question it hit me – I am a geek mom. And I am raising a geek child.
My daughter (we’ll call her “Kender”) is three, and for longer than she has been alive, my husband (whom I will give the name “Paladin” because that’s what he calls himself) and I have been part of a table top roleplaying game group. Not to mention, we are both (primarily) PC gamers.
So, my answer to her, initially, was to say that it is fun! It’s funny to know that my kid knows what a 20 sided die is, and one of her favorite songs is the parody “Roll a D6.” But then, after I thought about it, I realized that it’s hard. It’s hard work being a gamer and having kids. Another hobby of mine is to knit, which, to a degree, can be hard with her around, but at least it’s something I can do while she and I watch a movie together, or while she and her dad play a board game (her current obsession is Battle Ship – tell me she’s not a geeks child).
Gaming, though, is something I have learned to work around her schedule. I can’t sit on the computer for extended periods of time unless she’s in bed for the night, unless something happens that wakes her up, and then we have to do the whole back-to-bed thing. The table top gaming group understands that we have to break to put Kender to bed at a certain time, or that there is a very good chance that she will swipe something from one of them, she’ll get upset if the pizza is gone, or various other things.
I think adapting to gaming around her schedule was an easier thing for me to adapt to than Paladin. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a gamer-convert, or if it’s because I’m a mom, but I know one thing for sure – I am not the one playing games while he is out in the rest of the house taking care of her or cleaning or making dinner. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing my husband at all. I’m not complaining about him (not at the moment, anyhow). I think it’s just a guys vs. girls thing. Moms are, typically, the more attentive parent, so I can’t, without feeling incredibly guilty, play a video game on the computer while my daughter is home and awake. I feel that it’s not good parenting, because I can’t supervise her if I’m fighting a dragon, and I can’t fight the dragon if I’m not in the room.
On the flip side, she enjoys watching my husband and I play games, if they’re appropriate. Paladin plays the Tales series, and when he played one of them on thee PS2 and Tales of Vesperia recently on the XBox 360, she could be in the room, because there was nothing we felt she would understand that was bad. The language levels were pretty low key, the graphics are kind of cartoonish, and sometimes she would even take a non working controller and play along with him. By the age of three, she could manipulate a Wii by herself from start to finish, and is REALLY good at Wii Sports. She does okay with the XBox 360 and the Kinect too, though the voice recognition has a hard time understanding her. Mostly she uses it for watching Horseland on Netflix right now anyway.
So, is it hard being a gamer geek and a mom? Totally. Would I trade it for anything? No way. It’s like any parent would tell you – it’s good to have your hobbies to get you out of your “parent world,” but you learn to adapt them to your new schedule of parenthood. I completely admit that it would be a lot of fun to have a four hour window in the afternoon to play video games, but really, as we grow up, just how realistic is that, anyway?