Advice for a High School Geek Girl

One of my readers, Eric, wrote this on Parenting Geekly’s Facebook Page:

My daughter is the geeky gamer girl who has tubes of polyhedrons in her room. When she leaves middle school and into a much larger high school and I just know that there will be more geeky girls in her class, do you have any advice for helping her out of the lone female to a friendship with other geeky girls?

Here’s what I wrote in response:

I think she should continue to do what she likes to do and she should join clubs that look interesting to her. As long as she isn’t resistant to becoming friends with the other girls she’ll be fine.

I really think (read: hope) that at this point being a geek is so mainstream that it’s not the same type of situation as when we were younger. Something like 80% of the US Population thinks “geek” is a complimentary term now. It sounds like you’ve raised a confident girl who knows what she likes, I’m betting she’ll do fine!

 What other advice can you offer Eric’s daughter?  Leave your advice in the comments section below.

Can Video games Make Kids Smarter?

I’m pretty sure that most gamer parents would answer the question with a “yes”.  I’ve posted before about the inherent educational value of Assassin’s Creed (you can read that post here).  But I also think that a lot of the other games that Nate plays help with different areas of development. The Portal games teach spatial relations and creative problem solving, all while being hysterically funny and entertaining (even just to watch).  Multiplayer war games like Battlefield and Halo encourage working together.  I love watching Nate “meet up” with his school friends over XBox Live and work together to kick some enemy butt.  Minecraft develops creativity. Really, any game with a goal teaches strategy and persistence. I’m not saying that every game out there is good for your children, and like all things moderation must be practiced.  But parents, educators, politicians and researchers who blindly label all video games as “bad” don’t know what they are talking about.

A new study from the University of Michigan has shown that kids who play a specially designed memory game had long-term benefit to their problem solving skills.  The authors are quick to note that the study does not indicate that other, more traditional games would give the same results, but until they do a study to the contrary I’m going to continue letting my child develop his skills using the Xbox.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

A recent Twitter post asking “Did you share your baby’s name before birth or did you keep it a secret?” got me thinking about my kids and their “normal” names.

We were prepared for a bit of backlash when we told our nearest and dearest that Nate’s middle would be Oz.  What we were NOT expecting were the passionate arguments against giving our child an unusual name.  I mean, we were talking a middle name here.  The only people who would ever really have to know what it was were Nate himself (ooooh, Himself would make an AWESOME middle name!) and the DMV.  Anyway, from the reaction we got you would have thought that were going to name him Bilbo Baggins Feliciano (If that’s your kid’s name, more power to you).

The pleas of “But he’ll get made fun of” and “Are you sure,  he’ll be stuck with it forever” began to affect us and there – in the delivery room – we caved.  It was decided that he would have a nice “normal” middle name.  We named him after my dad and moved on with our lives.

Then came Kitty, whose given name is Catherine.  We knew that someday we’d have a girl named Catherine before we even got married.  I had a beloved Aunt named Catherine and we felt it was a good, strong name.  We were set on her first name but we agonized over her middle.  Valentine, after the sensitive sister in Ender’s Game, had always been the top choice with the one caveat being that we wouldn’t name her that if she was born in February, which is when she was due.So that was out.  I wanted Danger, so that she could truthfully tell people that Danger was her middle name.  SD said that was a great idea…for someone else’s kid.   Phoenix was briefly considered, after my favorite X-Men character.  Then SD suggested using one of my names (I’m Catholic so, when including my hyphenated confirmation name, I have a lot of them), but I vetoed that.  Then I suggested my mother’s maiden name, but that’s the same a male pop singer’s, so that was out.  We were getting closer when I suggested my mom’s first name, which sounded great with Catherine, but that was unfair to SD’s mom.  So, we figured we’d make everyone happy and give her ALL the names.  Catherine Margaret-Jean Phoenix Valentine Lynn Mary-Helen (My maiden Name) Feliciano.   We really, truly considered this until a certain relative was nearly brought to tears begging us not to “ruin the baby’s life!”.  We shortened it and kept just the two moms’ names and people still give us grief!

Catherine Margaret-Jean Phoenix Valentine Lynn Mary-Helen (Redacted)  and Nathan Oz  in an alternate reality where their parents aren’t wusses.

To be fair  we did sneak some geekery in there.  Nathan is the name of a secondary X-Men character (Cable) and Kitty’s nickname was inspired by Kitty Pryde (and she’s just so a Kitty).

Despite all this anxiety and flip-flopping I am happy with their names. It came down to my belief that my kids’ names weren’t the proper place for  me to express myself or show off my interests. Their names didn’t really belong to me.  I could always change my name to Phoenix if I wanted to and if they grow up and want to change their names, I will support them.  Their names suit them, though most people’s names do.  I know that a lot of people disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. It would be a boring world if we all stuck with the same ten names, and I love hearing the stories behind unusual names

Did you give your child an unusual name?  Or go with something more traditional? Do you have an unusual name? Share your naming stories in the comments below.