Accidentally Raising Geeks, by Esther Miller

Geeky children of the corn

One of the challenges of parenting is pouring twenty years of your heart and soul and your entire bank account into your children and not having any idea how the enterprise will turn out. Our kids are 30-somethings now and the verdict is in. We raised a couple of geeks.

We are an Iowa farm boy who never wanted to farm and an Iowa city girl who was born 100 years too late. We met and married in California and raised two kids on a half-acre in suburbia. Along the way, we also raised untold numbers of cats, rabbits, and baby chicks, and at least a ton of peaches, tomatoes, apples, and sweet corn.

We added 900 square feet onto our house and turned our half acre of weeds into terraces of flowers, native plantings, and all those veggies. Dad repaired telephones for a living and built stuff in his spare time; Mom gardened and canned and volunteered. She worked in Special Education in her spare time.

Somebody gave us a Vic-20 in 1980-something, then came the Commodore-64, the C-128, and finally a brand-new, bleeding-edge 25 Mhz 386 with 4 megs of RAM and an 80 meg hard drive. They all run together after that one. Our first 300 baud modem plugged into the back of the C-64 and we discovered Bulletin Boards. Everybody in our coastal city who knew anything about computers could be found on Hackers Hotline or The Tower or LOIS. Soon we also discovered ham radio and by 1989 all four of us were licensed.

In an assortment of used vehicles and a couple of funky trailers, we saw most of the national parks west of the Mississippi and lots of places hard to find on any map. We visited factories and museums, mountains and prairies, and everywhere we watched for wildflowers. We hiked in the deserts and watched rocket launches from our front yard. We explored ghost towns and gold mines and mentally reconstructed countless mining relics.

Did our kids always enjoy looking for calochorti on Mother’s Day in the back country? Nope. But they understand that there are native wildflowers and there are invasive weeds. Would they know a ten-stamp mill if they found the remains of one in the desert? Not likely. But they’d know there’s a story behind it, one that meant a lot to somebody sometime.

We shared our passions with them and they learned what passion means. We gave them the freedom to choose their own and now they teach us about search engine optimization and electronic design and ever so many things we would never have known.

Geek wasn’t a term we would have chosen for our kids in the beginning, but I’m so glad we raised a couple of geeks. May you all be so lucky!

Esther Miller

I’m a mother of two and grandmother of two. My husband and I have been married almost 40 years. I spent my childhood in the Midwest, and lived in California from high school through retirement. We traveled for a year and visited every state in the lower 48, then settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Professionally, I was an occupational therapist serving children in special education.

I’ve had a wild collection of volunteer jobs that nobody would have paid me to do, but they allowed me to develop skills I never would have gained in the workplace.

Interests include gardening, cooking, traveling, and amateur radio.

Connect with Esther Miller on Facebook.

See Esther’s other Mothers’ Week post, Shopping without baby.

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5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

5 responses to “Accidentally Raising Geeks, by Esther Miller

  1. Oh Esther, you have such a gift for taking your readers along for your wonderful rides (experiences). You have poignantly portrayed the role of parents and the joy of watching your children turn into unique individuals with their own stories to tell. I’d love to hear THEIR version of some of these outings! 🙂

  2. I completel agree, Elizabeth. Esther’s stories are like a fun ride.

  3. Geeks are great! I think my kids are well on their way to geekdom, and they’re only 5 and 6. I don’t mind, though, as long as they are kind, loving, responsible human beings. 🙂

  4. My son is not a geek (he’s a military cop), but my grandsons just might be…they can use any electronic device way better than their MoMo. Agree, Lara – as long as they are kind, loving, and responsible – I hit the jackpot there.

  5. Esther

    I hit the jackpot too…one worked with children in special education for several years and the other has been a single dad for 15 years. So they are kind, compassionate, responsible geeks.

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