Because my husband and I are transferring our boys to a different school, I realized they would need some new clothes. The boys’ previous school required uniforms. There was predictability and safety in the orderly school attire. I could simply set out their khaki or navy pants and white or maroon polo shirts the evening before, to ward off the mad dash in the morning. I didn’t buy as many casual pants or shirts for the boys because 5 days out of the week, they had fixed outfits to wear.
I decided to buy some new clothes for the boys and started with online shopping at Gymboree. While I was scrolling down different screens, my husband dryly hinted that perhaps 8 year olds weren’t wearing Gymboree anymore. My mind scanned through my boys’ wardrobes – there was a lot of Hanna Anderson and LL Bean shirts and pants, but frankly my finger was not on the pulse of grade school fashion. I tried to recall what my 6 and 8 year old male patients wore to the office (they typically were in a gown for their physicals) so I really had no idea.
So as I am wont to do in matters of fashion (or lack thereof), I decided to wing it. I went to Target to buy their new school supplies and perused the racks for boys’ clothing. Maybe superheroes and Angry Birds and Star Wars shirts were still trendy for the grade school set? I also went to Old Navy and purchased many different graphic tees. But frankly, I really don’t have a good idea what would be cool or acceptable for that age range and I know my boys really didn’t care either.
This disinterest in clothing spurred me to wonder whether my geeky attitude is rubbing off on my children. I know when I was in grade school I was always one year behind in Northeast Ohio fashion trends. The year everyone was wearing Tretorns I was running around in Kmart shoes. The next year I would be proudly wearing shiny new Tretorns whilst everyone moved onto Keds! Although I ran cross country in Junior High and played mediocre JV tennis in high school, I primarily focused on academics and extracurricular activities that would get me into an Ivy League college. I was in the trifecta of Science Olympiad, Math Club and Asian Students Society for goodness sakes! I loved my geeky clubs – Vice-President of the Volunteer Club, Co-Editor of the school newspaper, and Secretary of the National Honor Society. Since I did well in school and loved to read, I was undoubtedly labelled as a bookworm or a geek.
Almost 20 years later, I observe my boys and notice quite a bit of myself in them. My oldest son loves to read – he has read all 7 Harry Potter books in second grade and reread them at the beginning of this year. He has blown through all the Roald Dahl books last year and all the Percy Jackson books series this year. He taught himself how to play chess in the beginning of third grade and can best some adults. Although he can run 5 miles, has a black belt in Taekwondo, loves swim team and can do 200 push ups and 200 sit ups in 20 minutes, he would much prefer to play Legos or play video games or read. He will only play basketball or football under extreme coercion. My second son loves Legos as well and loves to draw. He is sensitive and sees the world with different shades of lenses. He loves to educate me with his math facts. I see a little bit of my dorky traits in both of them and certainly so much sweetness and innocence as well. After careful reflection, I am quietly thrilled that my boys are bright bookworms and love math and science. I adore their personalities and curiosities. I laugh when they quiz each other in math problems at the dinner table. I like the bit of awkwardness in them, it will build character and shape them into creative talented adults. I hope their geeky traits steer them in the right path of hard work, strong morals, quiet conviction. If I can breed children who will become productive members of society, bring on the geek any and every day.