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From the Nerd Files

I’m on the computer the other night and Liam comes over to show me the latest Star Wars Lego set he’s made. It’s a walker, but don’t call it an Imperial Walker, because you’d be WRONG. Wrong, baby, and shame on you. I know this because I did it. I’m not going to tell you what kind of walker it was, mostly because I’m afraid of retaliation if I get it wrong again. So Liam’s explaining to me, patiently, like maybe I might be very very old, WHY this is a different walker. And he goes, “It’s non-canon, but they can’t make all the Lego to scale, so….”.

Now, I know what he means is that this little Lego model is not EXACTLY the same as it would be in the Star Wars ‘Verse. But “non-canon?” Dude, you’re eleven.

(I just coughed and it sounded a lot like *nerd*.)

This summer we were camping with about 30 of our closest friends, and at one point a pile of boys were mock battling in the middle of the field. I and another mom were hanging on the sidelines and all of a sudden, her son runs up with this ticked-off look on his face.

Her: “Hey. What’s up?”

Him: “I just don’t get it.”

Her: “What?”

Him: ” Liam and Finn! I mean, they’re kind of fighting, but I don’t even know what they’re SAYING to each other. Finn was just calling Liam all this …. stuff… and I don’t even know what the WORDS MEAN.”

Her: “It’s ok, dude. Neither do I.”

See? Nerds.

Ok: first of all, they TOTALLY don’t mind me calling them that. My older children have proudly cultivated identities which embrace the (many) universes of nerd-dom, and inhabit them glowingly. Case in point, last year, when faced with the prospect of hitting middle school this September, they informed me they had a plan. Along with their Brother-from-another-mother and classmate J., they had a fool-proof way to avoid being bullied in junior-high, in spite of already being “marked” by being in the Gifted Program: “We’ve got it. We’re going to be SO NERDY, no one will even WANT to bully us. It’s going to be awesome!”

Yeeaaaah. Keep me posted, I said.

Not-so-secretly, I’m fiercely proud of them. The fact is, in different ways and to varying degrees, both Liam and Finn naturally embrace much of the world of the Nerd: they read voraciously, they get really, really upset when people abuse grammar, they love learning, they love fantasy, Finn can do more on my computer than I will ever be able to, and they can tell you more about Star Wars than George Lucas. (No, seriously.) And they always have, way before they ever knew they might fit into an identifiable social category.

But in the last few years, as their own worlds have expanded to include, well, other worlds, they’ve realized there are tribes of other folks out there a lot like them; that they aren’t the only boys who argue the finer points of Jedi weaponry or bemoan the rampant misuse of the apostrophe. And I love seeing them come to the understanding that loving the things they love, valuing all that they do, can be super-cool.

It can, however, be really hard to understand them. You know, for us mere plebes. Dinner isn’t truly underway until one of them says something that Rob and I find hard to recognize as English. It’s a strange thing – but about two-thirds of the way through each meal, the conversation takes a definite turn for the ultra-geeky, and I just smile wanly and go back to my potatoes. It’s usually something like:

Finn: “I can’t believe Pony Lampshade died in the last Clone Wars episode! The Neurons should totally have reached him in time – they were even using their Flip-Wing Fighters! (Ok, I may not repeating this word for word. I may be paraphrasing a tad.) If the writers had just read the account of Blahblah on Wookiepedia (yes, I do mean Wookiepedia), they totally would have known that Pony Lampshade was giving information to the Whatevers, and ok, that may be non-canonical (Finn’s words) but it still makes more sense than killing him off  before the battle of Thing!”

Me: “Mmm. What good potatoes.”

The other day, we’re sitting there enjoying our pasta, and Finn’s giving us an alarmingly comprehensive review of the new Star Wars online game. Rob and I are really trying to listen and pay attention. We are good parents and we love Finn. Finn’s really happy because he’s just spent a large sum of his own money for a lifetime membership in the game, which entitles him to, among other things, what apparently amounts to better living quarters in the game.

Finn: “I get a HOUSE. It’s so awesome. I don’t have much in it yet, but that will come. It’s great, because before, as a Padawan, I had to sleep in the dormitories in the Jedi Temple, but now that I’m a Jedi, I have my own place.”

I try to repeat this. I am feeling happy that I have pretty much understood thus far, and I know in a few minutes I’ll be smiling off into space, so I’m chiming in now so I don’t look completely stupid.

“Soooo… As a Padawan, you don’t have a house, and as a Jedi, you do. ”

“Right,” says Finn, approving. I am so smart.

“It’s kind of like this, Mama: Think of the Jedi order like a Feudal system: the Padawan are like the serfs, and can’t really OWN property; the Jedi are the squires, the Jedi masters are the nobles and the Head of the Order is like the King of the Fifedom.”

I am not that smart.

Smart-ass kid.

I like him though. And the other one, too.

4 comments to From the Nerd Files

  • ola

    Regan, you are an excellent writer. Will you write a book someday (I mean in addition to your cookbook)? I love hearing about your family.

  • Joce

    I agree with Ola. I love reading your real life stories! You can be like Stuart McLean, but female, and much better.

  • Mum

    I too love your family stories, even those I already know! It’s the way you write them. And I hope you write a book too! What a pleasure that would be!

  • GINETTE

    Lucky boys to have you.

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