A Fangirl Manifesto: My Kids Will Follow In My Nerdy Footsteps
My aunt sent me little care packages during my first pregnancy. I received one every trimester with thoughtful gifts inside for me and the baby. Opening up the first of those boxes, I squealed when I pulled out a tiny onesie. I didn’t have any yet, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting piece of clothing for my baby.
It said “Muggle” across the chest. And it was perfect.
I am a fangirl, as was my father and his father before him (not really). Harry Potter, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, X-Men — the list goes on. In some families, you’re born into an allegiance to a particular football team or university. In this house, you are born into the expectation that you will sing along to original cast recordings of Broadway musicals and learn extensively about “The Boy Who Lived.”
My children will grow up to be nerds, and they will like it with all the enthusiasm only a nerd can muster.
Some parents may look forward to their child’s first tee-ball game or teaching them to ride bikes. I am counting down the minutes until I can sit on the couch with my kids for their first screening of A New Hope. Are you wondering why we aren’t starting with Episode I – The Phantom Menace? Not while they live under my roof. Move along.
I am generally turned off by extravagant birthday parties for children. They look like a lot of work and a lot of money, and there’s a lot of cutting and gluing and glitter involved. I prefer to rent out the party room at some indoor facility where kids can run around, eat some pizza and cake, and we can leave without doing any actual work. But the day each of my kids turn 11, I’m going all out — letter from Hogwarts, lightning bolts everywhere, homemade butterbeer until everyone pukes.
What was that? What if my children don’t want to read Harry Potter or watch Star Wars or sing along with every word of the Hamilton soundtrack?
Are you trying to upset me? Why would you even say that?
They can like other stuff, sure. But why would they want to? All the best interests to be had are right here waiting for them. Most of these things have been made into Lego video games, for Yoda’s sake.
When I read these books or watch these movies and shows or listen to this music, all my happy feelings are firing off at full power.
Except for Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones routinely makes me feel like a pile of shit. But even as George R. R. Martin is killing off every fictional character I’ve ever felt a deep and meaningful connection to, I keep coming back for more. The stories are too compelling. The world is too interesting. And so, I fangirl on.
That is the kind of devotion I want my kids to feel about the art they love.
I’ve never had an interest in sports, but I guess this is kind of like the obsession some have with their favorite teams that do sports things. But with lightsabers. So better, obviously.
And the great thing about indoctrinating my children into nerdom is that it’s a family affair. If my kid wants to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween one year, you bet your ass I’m going as Chewie and my husband will be Han Solo. Nerdiness has become so mainstream that there are endless family-friendly activities for everyone to participate in together — Renaissance festivals and college campus quidditch matches. Hell, there are even Star Wars days on Disney cruises. Seriously.
At 4 years old, my oldest is still fairly young for a lot of the things I want to share with him. He spooks easily and isn’t going to be able to handle Voldemort or rancor attacks for quite a while. But that doesn’t mean he’s too young for all of the nerdiness. He has lightning bolt pants that he calls his Harry Potter pants and he likes watching short clips from the movies, especially if there is quidditch involved. And having the Hamilton soundtrack on near-constant rotation while I’m cooking or cleaning or driving or showering is finally starting to pay off. Just the other day, he climbed into my bed while I was still waking up and started singing his favorite Ham tunes. He knocks me out — I fall apart.
The togetherness that some families feel when they throw on their jerseys and paint their faces with team colors and then yell at their radios in parking lots on game day? That is the kind of togetherness my family will feel when we dress in our Hogwarts robes for our annual viewing of all eight films in the HP franchise, or setting out on a trip to the Wizarding World, all of us in our house colors. Me in Slytherin, my husband in Gryffindor, and our kids in anything except Hufflepuff because no child of mine will be a goddamn Hufflepuff.
And so, as they grow older, there will be books. There will be toys. There will be lightsabers and wands. And we will bond over all of it as a family. A family of giant dorks. Giant, happy dorks.
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