Geeking Out With Your Kids—Taking Advantage of Opportunity
In my last post, I talked about what I implemented at home to deal with WFH full-time while my son is also distance learning full-time. By being trapped together by social distancing, isolations, and/or quarantine, I noticed we have the opportunity to totally geek out with our kids. We can share with them the things that excited us as kids and take their sci-fi or fantasy (or whatever you enjoy geeking out about) knowledge to the next level. Here’s how I’m going about it:
Learn Their Interests
My son has already shown interest in sci-fi and fantasy genres, he takes part in the robotics team at school (pre-distancing), and loves superheroes, reading, and video games. We’ve watched the Netflix series Lost in Space together, played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (separately, but we discussed it together), we’re currently enjoying Animal Crossing: New Horizons together, and he absorbs books at a rate I can appreciate and marvel at. We all may know what our kids enjoy in one moment, we then find it changes overnight. They grow and change and the people they’re around partially influence those interests. With isolation right now, you may get a glimpse into their real interests which may be outside what they think is popular (we’ve all been guilty of that at one time or another). Since you can’t escape each other right now, you’ll learn things through trial and error.
Lots of people on social media are asking for binge-worthy shows and movies to watch they may have missed and many are looking for recommendations for their kids. Feel free to ask for recommendations through social media, as well. We’re all together (apart) in this, and people are freely offering recommendations. It helps to have an idea to start from, such as a genre or even a favorite movie/TV show/book to get ideas going on adjacent recommendations. I also suggest including kids’ ages to get appropriate selections, and even doing a quick Google search to determine if you think it’s appropriate for your kids. We’re all different, and I might let my 10-year-old watch something you wouldn’t let your 10-year-old watch, or vice versa. For this same reason, it’s important to understand our kids’ fears. If your kid finds robots terrifying, Lost in Space might not be for them, for instance.
Introduce Them to One of Your Favorite Classics
Watching stuff I loved as a kid (and still do) with my kid is a special treat. I’ll never forget watching his reactions through the Star Wars cinematic franchise. The betrayal and heartbreak clear on his face and the deep discussions afterwards have been huge bonding moments. We did that before this social distancing situation, but there’s time and opportunity to do more now and in the coming weeks and months.
You may be thinking, “How do I choose, though? So many amazing things to choose from!”
I’d suggest starting with something that seems safe to you. Do they love pirates? Maybe introduce them to the Dread Pirate Roberts and The Princess Bride. Do they love princesses? Try your favorite Disney classic (mine is Aladdin). Are they a fan of superheroes? How about getting dangerous with Darkwing Duck? There’s likely some common ground between what they love now and what you loved at their age. Start there, expand with other tangentially related things, and then go even further. Don’t get hung up on something if they leave halfway through or don’t like it the way you did, just try something else. If it’s too long, try breaking it up into smaller segments. A lot of kids have a hard time sitting still for 2 ½ hours, so watch it over the course of a couple of days if they’re still interested, but restless.
Try giving them a few options to choose from, instead of giving them all of Netflix to watch. Making a choice may be too much for them, and they choose what’s easy and comfortable, like many of us do when forced to choose where we’d go out to eat (in the “before” times). Try out a mix of options from different genres, see what sounds good to everyone, and have a vote. Or, try taking turns. Every night you watch a movie, a different family member gets to choose. <teenage memories> That way, when one kid wants to watch The Mummy or Armageddon every day, they have to wait until at least every fifth day! </teenage memories>
The same works with games. We play games my parents taught us as kids, and my son gets to play classic video games as well through our Nintendo Switch. Playing Super Mario Bros. 3 with him and getting the questions and exclamations the whole time (“How did you know that was there!?” and “How are you so good at this?”), and explaining I was never as good at games as his uncle is, makes it good fun. If you’re lucky enough to have family who can play online with you, do that too! We played Mario Kart 8 with my cousins in Prague the other day, which is fun and keeps us connected. There are online options for boardgames, as well, to get the whole family involved. You can use voice platforms like Discord or meeting applications with video during the game to really enjoy those reactions.
Let’s enjoy this time and go into those geek deep-dives with our kids! Have Pokémon card battles, play boardgames, teach them what it’s like to have big emotions from film, and have those crazy deep discussion on Star Wars lore. I look forward to hearing what geeky thing from your past you have sucked your kids into!