Being a “Geek Dad” is a lot of fun, but it also has its fair share of challenges. My oldest son (aka “The Boy”) is three and a half, and beginning to reach the age where he enjoys a lot of the things that I find fun (although in a different way, of course). He loves superheroes, and so do I. I love Lego, and so does he. I like playing video games, and he likes them too. While you would think that having a geek-in-the-making is awesome, it also comes with a few unique challenges and lessons that I have had to face. The joy of nerdy parenting, I have found, is in embracing the experience and learning from it. NOTE: Spoilers for The Lego Movie ahead. If you haven’t seen it by now, however, you probably won’t care about the spoiler.
My Inner Lord Business
At the end of The Lego Movie, it turns out that the villain, Lord Business, is really the father of a boy who is imagining the entire plot. The father is completely obsessed with building elaborate scenes out of Lego, and has forbidden his son from playing with the scenes he has created. Since watching this movie, a haunting reality strikes me on almost a daily basis.
I am Lord Business.
Seriously, I cannot understate how much this movie haunts me. Granted, I’m not as severe as Will Farrell is in the movie, but the spirit of that character lies waiting inside of me.
One of my favourite things is to put Lego sets together and display them on my desk at home. I have some on my shelf in my office at work, too. Being able to look up at a model Daily Bugle building and see Spider-Man fighting Doctor Octopus while I’m working is super cool.
We have a ton of Lego, so I have tried to put aside some Lego that he is allowed to play with (Cloud Cuckoo Land anyone?). Lately, however, my office at home has become the place where The Boy goes to play with Lego where he can keep away from his younger sister’s destructive tendencies. If I have set some of the Lego on the desk, it will be in complete disarray when I get home from work. He just can’t resist pulling that huge (and heavy) Avengers Quinjet off the shelf, because its way too cool. Without fail, something with be broken when I enter the room.
I feel my inner Lord Business begin to rage. Then I remember that he’s just a kid, and has most likely been having an absolute blast all afternoon. When I was a kid, I would have died to play with some of the cool sets that Lego has released lately!
This morning, I tried something new. When I came upstairs this morning, The Boy was already hanging out upstairs (It’s not unusual for him to be the first one up in the morning). Instead of quickly getting my stuff together and getting a head start at the day, I opened the door to the office and sat down with him to play Lego. It was an absolute blast, and a great start to my day! Let me tell you, that Sentinel didn’t have a chance against the power of Star Lord’s blasters and then X-Men’s Blackbird jet.
The Science of Environmental Enrichment
A big chunk of my thesis has been the study of the benefits of environmental enrichment on brain development. In short, by increasing the number of opportunities that our children have to experience new and engaging things, we can help significantly improve their wellbeing long into adulthood. Having an engaging and fun home as a child can help reduce the risk for symptoms associate with anxiety, depression, and ADHD as an adult.
One of the greatest parenting lessons I learned from a psychology professor was to let kids make a mess. Open up the tupperware drawer and let that adventurous baby pull out every single bowl, and you will be amazed at how much fun they have! Pull down the Lego from the shelf and let The Boy play with the good stuff.
Sharing is hard, folks. We still have to be very clear about the rules of cleaning up when you’re done, and that is a battle that I know we still need to fight. Its important, however, that we don’t let our inner Lord Business prevent our kids from having fun. It may seem easier in the long run to pull out the Kragle (Krazy Glue) and glue the models together so The Boy can’t wreck all our stuff, but that doesn’t do him any favours at all. In fact, its pretty dang selfish.
Today’s Question: What does your inner Lord Business look like? Sound off in the comments below!