I got a fun t-shirt for Father’s Day, and it got me thinking about the role models I saw (or more often, didn’t see) in books, on TV, and in movies that helped me learn what it means to be a Geekdad. Not just the Bill Cosby and Atticus Finch kind of dad, but the dads who took an interest in both their kids and the world around them. Here are a few of my favorites. Who are yours?
Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter) – He took a Ford Anglia, ‘upgraded’ it to fly, expanded the interior space to fit his entire family, and gave it the power of invisibility. That’s enough to qualify as Best Geekdad Ever right there. On top of his love of technology and gadgets, he really does care about his children. He even takes the time (and expense) to take them all to the World Cup one year, despite having a government job that leaves him scrambling just to make ends meet.
Ted Arroway (Contact) – Ellie Arroway, the SETI scientist protagonist, learned her love of science and inquiry from her father. His interest in the stars, electronics, and science made such an impression on her that aliens used him as the pattern for her first-contact experience. If only we all could influence our geeklets so strongly…
Alex Murray (A Wrinkle In Time) – Dr. Murray almost doesn’t get enough in-story development to be considered a geekdad, but he makes up for it by calling his daughter Meg nicknames like ‘Megaparsec’. He’s mostly referred to indirectly, but that’s OK because it’s due to him being lost on a top-secret mission exploring ways to travel across vast distances just by pinching… moving through… thinking hard about… well, by some kinda magic that only makes sense when you’re reading the book.
Benjamin Sisko (Star Trek) – Sisko had to make time for his son while serving as leader of a space station near a transgalactic wormhole (a.k.a. Most Awesome Dad Job), but he managed. He passed on his love of baseball and his enthusiasm for exploration whenever he had the opportunity. He and his even built a functioning replica of a solar-sail spaceship together. How’s that for a Maker project?
"Father" (Swiss Family Robinson) – The character himself is never given a name in the book (it was the movies that gave his family the name Robinson), but he’s clearly a stand-in for the author. And what a stand-in; this could easily be the Dangerous Book for Castaway Boys. Everyone knows about the fantastic treehouse the family builds from the remains of their shipwreck, but there’s also
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Darth Vader (Star Wars) – Okay, probably not the role model you were looking for, but he’s a fascinating Geekdad. He’s a geek obsessed with his machines to the exclusion of anything else, and ultimately to the detriment of his family. It eventually kills him, before he can even apologize to his daughter for being such a jerk. He should have stuck with building fun robots and floating go-karts, with the occasional camping trip to a forest moon somewhere.