I knew from an early age that my boys were not going to follow the typical path. Instead of baseball and soccer they preferred taking things apart and computers. And occasionally, they would even take apart my computer, until I put my foot down. People in our neighborhood soon became aware of my gadget boys and would show up at the door with broken electrical items for them to dismantle and dissect.
Once it became abundantly clear that this was their path, I tried to prepare them for a world that seem to give more respect to individuals who could throw or catch a ball rather than reprogram your microwave. To keep the junk to a minimum, I placed large plastic bins under their beds to hold the nuts, bolts, screws, and bits of old equipment that gadget boys tend to gather. I began reading them biographies of people like Edison, Einstein, Jobs, and Gates who didn’t fit the common mold. But it wasn’t always an easy path.
Son #2 discovered robotics during his high school years and that has been a tremendous outlet for him. As a parent, it was wonderful to see my son gathered with hundreds of like-minded kids for competitions.
I ran across this video filmed at the Denver Comic Con of actor Wil Wheaton responding to a question by a young girl on how to deal with being called a nerd. I thought is was very wise and touching and if I had this video when my boys were younger, you can be sure I would have played it for them.
It’s not always easy taking a different path. Today because of men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates being a nerd isn’t as bad as it was in the past. With the advent of computers and computer technology people are more open to accept those who are more technology oriented.
The gadget boys are grown now. But if you were to ask them, I think they would agree with what Wil Wheaton has to say it does get better as you get older.
Writing on the Sidewalk