Child development and parenting books lay out a series of developmental milestones that children are supposed to achieve, with sample timetables. I don’t know if these do more harm than good, since kids are kids and not machines. They all do things a little differently, and some kids whose bodies or minds work in their own unique way have their own path. And more power to them!
I also feel like the child development literature does an insufficient job listing some of the developmental milestones that are extremely important, we believe, to our son’s future happiness. Specifically in our case, the Geek Kid milestones. As geeky people ourselves, we muddled through these things when we were growing up, but are we doing the best job we can raising our Geek Kid?
Here are a few of the milestones for which we received insufficient guidance from established parenting experts.
First pair of dice
Sure, parenting books tell you not to give your child anything small to play with until they are no longer trying to eat their toys. Is this really sufficient guidance? Are there specific colors or shapes that are best for growing minds? Is one pair of dice even right, or should there be a larger set?
Their own library card
Our son finally got his own library card right before his six year old birthday. It had never occurred to us that he could get one at such a young age, and we would not have known without his new teacher telling us it was possible. Have we set his development back years by this delay? Also, why did no one tell us earlier that youth cards in the Austin Public Library system also have an allowance of 50 books checked out at a time, so getting him one increases our household’s total allowance to 150 books?
I had no idea what age practice of this important geek skill was supposed to begin, and how to properly nurture its development. However we were lucky enough to find a primer, Star Wars Adventures: Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes, that seemed to work reasonably well. But what about geek parents who don’t have ready access to such educational materials?
Ability to separate superheroes into DC, Marvel, or “other”
Sorting objects into groups is well understood as an activity that helps children’s minds develop. Sorting superheroes, though, is a more intellectual activity unless you’re lucky enough to own a large quantity of action figures whose trademarked likenesses are owned by a variety of entertainment megacorporations. And without mastering this ability, how are geek kids supposed to understand the legal ramifications of their proposed superhero team-ups? For example, my son’s recommended Ramona Flowers + Black Panther is going to be FAR easier to make happen than his Batman, Superman, and Iron Man team.
You see what I’m saying, right? For all we know, we’ve already missed some key milestones and we’ll have to play catch-up when our shocking parenting lapses come to light!