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?