Before I became a father, friends and family warned me that I’d have no time for geeky pursuits. I was afraid they’d be proven right but, after six years of fatherhood, I can safely say that Ben and Naomi have helped me become a better geek. To celebrate Father’s Day, here are ten things that I’ve discovered (or rediscovered) thanks to the kids.
- Old Cartoons – From the ’67 Spider-Man to the original Transformers run, I can see how those old cartoons give kids everything they love to watch. I had also forgotten how unforgettable the theme songs could be.
- Space Lego – My parents rarely threw toys away, and for that I’m grateful. The classic space lego astronauts have been disassembled and reassembled more times thanks tto Ben’s nimble fingers than I ever dared. Who knew that he could recreate the cast of Star Wars out of red, white and grey blocks?
- Parker Brothers Playsets – Another artifact from my childhood. There’s nothing like a magic show to help teach kids about sequencing and the importance of audience patter. That they now think “Abracadabra” is the magic word instead of “Please” is just a bonus.
- The Cub Book – Every campfire song or playground game I need to know is within those well-worn pages. Being able to tie simple knots in kite strings or make pirate hats out of newspaper are the fatherhood skills nobody told me I’d need. Be prepared!
- Playmobil – I don’t know how we ended up with so many plastic pieces in the house, but I marvel at how there’s a playset for every occasion and at my daughter’s capacity to remember exactly where to find something small, like plume for a royal carriage set, in a big plastic box.
- Super-Friends Action Figures – The Justice League and Justice League Unlimited figures are chiselled and heroic in that Bruce Timm style, but we’ve had better playground adventures with the larger, rounder, chunkier editions of the League. It might be the durability, the chewability (as my teething daughter proved on Superman’s head), the accessories, or the fact that both the Batmobile and Batplane were available as working vehicles. I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to let the kids have a Batmobile of their own.
- Maps – I’ve always been a thoughtless navigator and geographer who measured neighborhoods in units of bus rides and cab fare. All that changed when a three-year-old voice started asking “Where are we? Where are we now? Where are we going?” for me to haul out a city map, Google maps, and cartography-themed toys to answer those questions once and for all.
- Lunar Jim – You end up watching a lot of television when you’re a parent. At first, it’s whatever late night informercial that will get you through the colic, but once the kids hit a certain age, you’re watching kids’ shows. All. The. Time. Lunar Jim is a family favourite – an astronaut on the last unexplored moon in the Milky Way, along with a repair tech, a gardener, and a robot as comic relief. Plus, I had to explain how he knows Buzz Lightyear, which was awesome. You’re never too young to love crossovers.
- Backyardigans – I can’t wait for Ben and Naomi to grow older so I can explain exactly how funny this imaginary musical adventure show really is. If it weren’t for the kids, I would have missed the medieval rock opera, secret agent tango, Star Trek funk musical extravaganzas, and all the related in-jokes.
- Cthulhu – Yes, the sleeping High Priest of the Great Old Ones itself. Two years ago, I found a stuffed Cthulhu in Powell’s Books, showed it to Ben and Naomi, and they immediately gave it a big hug. A winged octopus-person pretty much sells itself. I’m not sure if I should be worried. Now the kids like to help me set up the Arkham Horror boardgame.
Thank you, Ben and Naomi! What are we going to play tomorrow?