I recently got to sit down with Hayley The Brave on her podcast, Thirty, Nerdy, Thriving, to talk about being a geek parent. As an owner of a nerd business, a huge Funko collection, and a daughter named Marvel, it’s safe to say I’m a nerd. Hayley is no exception either and happens to be a mom of two little ones. We both discuss how with parenting, you learn how to embrace the chaos. Every day is a choice between which battles you want to fight and what hill you would like to die on.
We start our nerdy discussion at the root of all our nerdiness, our first experience with fandom. Mine was through my dad, an avid Star Trek fan. I remember Saturday morning cartoons in bed. The classics like Jetsons, Flintstones, Johnny Quest, and Captain Planet. Hayley and I both bond over ur love of Lambchop and how we wish it were available for our kids now. Her dad was much kinder than mine when it came to Lambchop being canceled. This brings us to the point of current parents, stop acting like the TV didn’t raise you. We all can admit, at some point, we knew the Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network schedule better than our times’ tables. We watched a lot of television and movies that were not educational at all and we turned out fine for the most part.
For me, Fandom is the place to relax. A place where I can forget what’s going on, homework, drama, the current news, etc. It’s a place where I can go to be immersed in a different story or world. While we talk about the toxic nature of some fandoms, there has been so much research on the positives that fandom can have on one’s mental health and other aspects. Fandom helps us pick characters we see a lot of ourselves in or maybe even inspire to be. For me personally, I grew up a gymnast, so my idol was the Pink Ranger. As I grew up, I later fell in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
As a childcare coach, I have many parents who come to me concerned about what their kids are watching or reading. My usual question in response is, “Are you concerned because it’s not age-appropriate or because it’s not what you like?” These are two very different things. Parents like to live vicariously through their children, but they won’t like everything exactly as you do. I can show Marvel Lilo and Stitch a million times, and within 2 minutes, it’s getting switched to Zootopia. Guaranteed. At the end of the day, you have to be interested in what they like as well. For me, that looks like reciting full-on scenes of Zootopia from memory with my husband. As they get older, this plays an even more crucial point, though. I grew up with many artist friends who were extremely talented, but their parents always told them had to follow a more traditional career path. It wasn’t the support they wanted and needed. Eventually, most of them ventured back to art. As parents, we don’t want to see our kids fail, but we almost have to let them. Remember, someone has to make the video game art, design the book covers, or animate the next Disney movie. Hayley and I chat about how we recognize now all the things our parents did, from spending time at our games to watching horrible shows over and over again. At the end of the day, to help your kid excel, you have to let them be who they are and do what THEY love.
Hayley and I named our children after our nerdy passions. She chose names from Warehouse 13 and X-Files, but fears her kids will hate her for choosing nerdy names. I always tell people that yes, we love Marvel Comics, but it means a wonder at the root of her name. She’s our wonder. If Marvel takes anything away from the nerd life is that she has an escape. She finds something she can relax and get immersed in. I also want her to know she can like and do as many things as she wants. You can like Star Wars and Star Trek. Girls can be Jedis. Hayley wants her kids to know that it’s okay to have no shame in what you love. She talks about how people made fun of her American Idol obsession, but it’s no different from being excited over the Super Bowl. Essentially, sports and fandoms are the same things. There are multiple teams, lots of people talk about it, and eventually, people get dressed up to hang out together.
We go on to talk about our love for Bluey. (You can’t escape it when it comes to me) We also chat about what tv and movie moms we both feel we are like. In general, our family most identifies with Bob’s Burgers. As a kid, I emulated Jill Taylor of Home Improvement. Now that I am actually a mom, I feel more like Kitty from that 70’s Show or a combo of Loreli Gilmore and Morticia Adams. Haley has realized that she is a Claire Dunphy from Modern Family to the T. We end the podcast chatting about parenting advice we wish people had given us. We also chat about how to not stifle your child’s creativity due to your fear of social media. Let them create and use the programs without publishing them to a public platform. As we all know, the Internet is forever. These kids are growing up in an age where their every moment has been imprinted somewhere online. But the only way these kids will learn how to use this technology (adobe, Garageband, video editing) and be good at it is by letting them practice in a controlled environment. We wrap up the podcast by agreeing that all we want to do is raise good kids who do good things for this world.