Top Ten Signs That Your Child May Be A Geek

Most of us geeks seem to have been rather geeky at a rather young age. Therefore, for this week’s Top Ten List, I put together a list of signs that your child might too grow up into a geek based on the things that we did when we were young!


10. Draw families that are genetically accurate according to Mendel
This one belongs mostly to Gardella, although both Dawn and Rosalind joined in on occasion. Essentially, she would draw two parents and then draw the little boxes to determine the odds of their children having traits such as blue eyes, and then sometimes roll dice or use random numbers to determine what the outcome would be. Then, she would draw the children. This was known to happen while driving from New Jersey to Florida. We also used to refer to blond-haired, blue-eyed Dawn as the “recessive child” in the darker hair and eyed family. That goes back as far as I can remember.

9. The have an odd aversion to sunlight and seem oddly nocturnal

I never wanted to be out in the sun. I used to run away from it and cover myself up under towels while on the beach. Even better, we used to go down the shore for July 4th, and you know what marathon always got played on July 4th: The Twilight Zone. Sometimes I would also catch Star Trek:TOS marathons about the same time. I would stay inside watching my shows. Walk down to the beach for a hot dog, and come back. I also stayed up late practically from birth. It was no wonder to my parents when I got interested in Vampires. Real vampires, not sparkly ones. Specifically, I’ve read the entire set of Vampire Chronicles and adored Forever Knight. I’m still pretty nocturnal.


8. Call animals, body parts, etc by scientific names only
When I was young, maybe 10 or 11, I learned the names of a whole bunch of bones, like clavicle and scapula and sternum, for a class at school. Well, I promptly came home and taught them to my little sister, that’s Dawn, who was only 3-4. Well, from that point on, she called her knees and everyone else’s patella, because that’s the bone. Me and Gardella did too. It amused us. It impressed strangers. It made my parents think we were strange indeed.
7. They want to read The Hobbit or a A Wrinkle in Time over and over again
Those were the books that I read as a child, and I adored them. I remember reading A Wrinkle In Time with my mother when I was about 8 or 9, and I can’t remember a time in my life when I hadn’t read the Hobbit. We had a big book with lots of painted pictures of trolls too. I have no idea what other 10 year olds were reading, but based on my inability to hold conversations with normal children, I’m betting not these.
6. They keep using the He-Man figures to destroy the My Little Ponies and Barbies
Again, this was mostly me. We had acquired toys from my uncle who was closer in age to me than to my mother (his oldest sister). Since there were no male grandchildren (still aren’t), the girls got his toys. Well, I liked his toys. I loved the He-Man characters, and the Battle Cat and the guy with scorpion claw far more than our collection of Ponies, Rainbow Brites, and Barbies. In continuing this theme of toys, my personal favorites were the legos, lincoln logs, and K’nex. Screw the dolls. I was known to draw on barbies and ponies with markers though. Mom didn’t so much appreciate that.
5. Form attachments to various insects
This is attributed to both myself and our guest columnist Alison Cetogen. We liked bugs. A lot. She used to examined ants and roly-poly’s (or potato bugs depending on where you grew up) just a little too much. I was obsessed with caterpillars. I used to make them habitats in buckets and try and keep them alive in the garage. Mom wouldn’t let them in the house. I also used to go to the Liberty Science Center in NJ and hold the millipedes for hours and try to make the Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss. Surprisingly enough, we are both biologists now, only we work with smaller, microscopic bugs like Geobacter and acetogens. Think about it for a moment.).
4. Keep asking how electronics work
This is another suggestion from A. Cetogen, that she used to point to things and ask how they worked, like the air conditioner. I’m sure many of us did that, wanted to know how things worked and what made them go. We didn’t ask this too much in my family, my dad is an electrical engineer by degree, and he gave real answers! Also, how many of you liked to take apart and try and put back together small electronics like calculators? Come on, you know you did. My thing was pens, I took every one apart, especially the click-up kind!
3. Prefer the Nintendo 64 over the cat
Well, substitute your favorite current video game system and cute animal. This is one that my husband can vouch for. His family got a kitten and an N64 for Christmas one year. He gave the Nintendo so much attention that the kitten learned how to turn it off. I mean, he still loves that cat, but I believe somewhere in there was the beginnings of the Nintendo Fanboy who imported his GBA that I eventually married. As an addition to this, when dating a girl, treating her like the cat above while being obsessed with the imported GBA, probably not the best thing to do if you want to keep the girl. On the other hand, giving her the GBA and tetris to make up for that could help!

2. Comics are their favorite picture books

This idea comes from my friends on twitter, who both said similar things about loving comics at young ages, shortyneisius and EvilTwinBrian. GeekDad talks in a number of posts including this one about  comics that would be appropriate for kids. I know that my husband read comics as a kid, he has a whole box of them that he simply can’t get rid of. Comics are the perfect young geek media, lots of big pretty pictures, just enough easy to follow text, and exciting storylines and often superheroes. However, if your child has more comics than Golden Books, then you might just be raising a geek.


1. They program their own Atari/computer games

This final idea came from trollitc on twitter, but I have to admit that I did similar things. He talked about coying the Basic code out of magazines and inputting it into his Atari. I was more of a computer geek because we had a computer since I was 5. I learned simple computer programming in Pascal, and used to make presentation in Hypercard long before PowerPoint became the medium of choice. Playing computer games is pretty typical. Programming your own, or even basic hacking and modding, at a young age really shows promise as a geek in training!


There you have my ten favorites. What did you do as a geeky child? What signs would you look for in a child today?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anassarhenisch
    May 26, 2010 @ 21:04:47

    Hmm, let’s see if I can come up with a comprehensive list…

    I went through a dinosaur phase, a hominid phase, a brief geology phase, a paranormal non-fiction and cryptid phase, and a mythology phase. For the last two, I read just about everything in the town library.

    I would occasionally use our dress-up clothes to cosplay Disney characters.

    I taught my younger sister to write and add, before she was in kindergarten. I also entertained her by retelling Greek myths.

    My parents subscribed to National Geographic and Discover for years. I was the only person to read them. I also collected (and read) old National Geographics. I made a spreadsheet to help myself find articles.

    When I was 11, I drew a series of rebus puzzles punning on place names, and made every adult try to solve them.

    In elementary school, I spent lunch and recess reading in the school library, as often as possible.

    Wishbone and The Magic School Bus were AWESOME.

    I apparently went through a “Latin names for insects” phase which I don’t remember.

    By the time I started high school, I was already figuring out etymologies, borrowed words, and the history of Western European languages by comparing words in English, French, and German. I learned a lot of French from cereal cartons. German was done by correspondence. (I now have a BA in linguistics.)

    I had more fun with K’Nex and Lego than Barbie too, especially when I got to knock things over, but preferred reading. If I had to go outside, I’d take a book with me.

    Playing with slime was fun. Dissecting writing implements slightly less so.

    My dad’s attempt to get me into computer programming didn’t take, but I’ve been using Macs since I was 4.

    As I said on Twitter, Tolkien, Adams, Lewis, L’Engle, Pullman, Rowling, and several mythologies were bedtime stories. I also read through Redwall, Pern, most of Xanth, Lloyd Alexander, a handful of classics like Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Alice in Wonderland, and anything else with magic in it.

    I’d look for kids who were into science, magic, aliens, explosions, and history—kids who approached those topics with enthusiasm and had a lot of knowledge in them. I’m not sure how I’d take gaming as a trait, unless all the games were old-school or had genre elements. (Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto, no. Legend of Zelda and Bioshock, yes.) I’d definitely look for intelligence, because it promotes curiosity, which is a big part of being geeky.


    • girlsaregeeks
      May 26, 2010 @ 21:35:12

      I second your dinosaur phase, geology phase, a paranormal phase, and mythology phase. I also had a brief architectural phase. I was very good at computer programming and very much hated it, so I quit. My dad was slightly disappointed. His other two daughters were both in tech programs and ended up artists, so he didn’t manage to get any other real tech geeks in the family. Just everything else. Nice to know we all grew up geeks!


  2. Gina
    May 27, 2010 @ 00:30:58

    That’s a great list! I bet #7 could be expanded dramatically – for me and my sister it was Tal and His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom.

    The main indicator for me was that when I was an infant my dad traveled a lot. When he came home, of course I’d be all fussy because of my short memory. His tactic? Watch Star Trek: TNG with me. It worked. Some of the most adorable pictures we have of me and my dad, TNG was on the tube just out of the picture.

    Then in middle school, I managed to worm my way out of bedtime by magically ‘not being able to sleep’ at exactly 10:30 every night. Half-way through Star Trek: VOY. My parents gave up and let my stay up straight to the end of the episode.

    In elementary school, during recess I didn’t play soccer like 80% of the school, me and my two friends built miniature towns under a tree and re-enacted Greek mythology with marbles.

    We had no video game consoles, but our only computer games were Number Munchers, Math Blasters, Carmen Sandiego, and Oregon Trail.

    I was in the Librarian’s Homeroom group.

    My favorite high school teacher (who I still talk to with some regularity) was our Physics teacher.

    I love science camp and computer camp (in the 90s)

    The old Game Boy was worth ten times its weight in gold in our house.

    After declaring a Comp Sci major, my parents informed me that not only did both of them start their careers in technical fields, but my grandfather was a computer technician.

    I still maintain that I’ve been brainwashed.


    • girlsaregeeks
      May 27, 2010 @ 10:00:23

      Mmmm, Carmen Sandiago and Oregon Trail, I put far too much time into both of those games, and my family was extra competitive, so if someone’s score was beat, they went back and tried again! Hey, if it is brainwashing, it was totally worth it!


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