While pondering the recent Father’s Day, it occurred to me that many of us geek dads hope that our children will one day share our love for whatever our hobbies may be. But I think we also recognize that our children are more than likely to develop their own hobbies and interests. I have two boys, ages 8 and 5, and I do my best to try and resist pushing them in the direction of any particular geek-y hobby; I don’t shoo them away when they sneak up to catch a glimpse of whatever it is I’m doing or watching or playing, but I also don’t sit them in my lap and expect them to focus and smile and enjoy soldering up a robot or playing my favorite board game. If that interest grows by itself, fine… but I’m also quickly realizing another truth about being a geek dad — it’s hard not to get fired up about anything my boys show interest in, whether it be a sport or a TV show or a particular iPad app. What interests my boys inevitably also interests me. I may not dive as deep as they do in the long run, but I’m doing my best to show interest and let them know that I want them to enjoy a hobby or two or ten… and I’ll be right there helping them when I can.
My 8-year-old loves baseball. He plays it, he watches his Atlanta Braves whenever possible, and he can quote stats with more accuracy than I can quote movie lines. My wife’s side of the family is all about sports. My side… not so much. Don’t get me wrong… I do love my FSU Noles, but sports has never been something that I couldn’t walk away from if an opportunity to dive into one of my primary hobbies reared its head. That said, all of a sudden I’ve found myself cheering with my son as the Braves win… and getting a bit down when they lose. His joy has become my joy. I never thought I could cheer so loud as when my son was up to bat (Little League) with two outs and a tie-game in the bottom of the 9th and he got a single to bring in the winning run.
Lately my son has gotten into baseball cards. I never collected them, but he holds them and scans them and reads them with as much focus as I do with my favorite books and games. He’s been collecting mostly Braves cards, but lately for rewards he’s been getting a pack of cards (10) that has a mix of teams and special moments in baseball. His little collection is still little, but I can see that changing — he loves pulling out his box and sharing his treasures with the grandparents, cousins, and anyone else who happens to be in his vicinity when the box is handy.
About a month ago we were in Kennesaw, Georgia, heading to a major hobby shop (HobbyTown USA). I’ve been there dozens of times, but he hasn’t. It was his first trip there since he was maybe 5 or 6. We were going to get some rocket kits, and as we got out of the car he whooped! “Dad… baseball card shop!” Sitting just a few shops over, tucked into the end of the shopping center, was Champion Sportscards & Collectibles. I told him after we’d picked up our rocket kits, we could swing in and check it out. So we did…
Ross Finley is the owner, and I need to tell you something about him that was pointed out to me recently when my father-in-law (a big baseball fan, himself) went in for our second trip to the shop. After we’d visited and purchased $5.00 worth of cards (which ended up buying four cards that my son picked out), we were walking out and my father-in-law asked me if I’d noticed the level of attention Ross gave my boy. I did notice, but it took someone else to remind me that you can always spot someone who is passionate about their hobby. Ross spent maybe 8-10 minutes looking my son in the eye, answering his questions, making some suggestions, and just plain giving him the attention that any customer would expect. I was there with my boy, but the attention was where it should be… with the person who shared Ross’ hobby and fire.
I frequent a lot of small businesses in and around the Atlanta area that cater to my hobbies, and I’m always happy to share contact info with my fellow geeks, especially for those businesses who go above and beyond for their customers. After seeing how my son was treated by Ross, I realized that Champion Sportscards & Collectibles will have a long-term customer on their hands as my son grows. I’ll continue to take him when I can, and my son is already talking about a possible trip this weekend. Listening to my son as he flipped through his four new cards in the backseat, asking my father-in-law questions about this player and that player, it dawned on me that just as my son has been growing in front of me, so has a hobby… maybe even a passion.
I’m loving every minute of it. And I’ve got a 5-year-old who is starting to enjoy the strategy of tower-defense games on the iPad. Not my favorite type of game, but… “Of course, I’m down for a game of Kingdom Rush… let’s play!”
Note: Champion Sportscards & Collectibles is located at 840 Ernest Barrett Pkway, Suite 708 in Kennesaw, GA. The website is atlanta-championsportscards.com.