nerd (noun \ˈnərd\): an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits
(Yes, I looked it up. It’s what I do.)
The Caboose came home from school a few days ago in a bad mood. He went up to his room to sulk for a little while, then appeared in the kitchen a few moments later, ready to talk about it.
Him: I’m glad I’m not going back to that school next year.
Me: (Concerned look.) Why?
Him: Because they have too many bullies.
Me: (Seething.) What happened?
Him: The popular kids were calling me and my friends names.
Me: (Seething more.) What did they call you?
Me: (Sympathetic look.) Aww.
You must understand, “aww” was the word that came out of my mouth, but my brain was saying “yessss!” For I know the path of a nerd. And it turned out just fine for me.
You see, I’m a nerd. To be specific, I’m an English Nerd. My husband is also a nerd. He’s a Computer Nerd. Turns out that when two nerds marry and have kids, guess what their offspring turn out to be. You got it…more nerds.
Now I use the term with great affection. Many of my closest friends are nerds. (Go figure.) But coming to terms with being a nerd is a long process. And my Little Guy just isn’t there yet. It’s my job to get him there.
When my kids read this (…who am I kidding, they don’t read my blog…) they’re not going to be happy. Having one’s mom tell the world you’re a nerd can’t be good for adolescent self-esteem, but deep down I think the two older kids already know.
As for The Caboose, I’ll tell him over and over that he shouldn’t listen to what other people say. I’ll reinforce the philosophy that “it’s what’s inside that matters.” I’ll remind him that he has many friends who like him just the way he is. But he’ll still want to be more like the popular kids. And he’ll want to be one of them. It’s part of growing up.
This week is my College Boy’s Spring Break. (Some of my friends have been expressing woe over their kids going to the beach for Spring Break. I can’t even imagine that level of worry.) When he said he planned to stay home, I was quite relieved. Then a magical thing happened: his girlfriend came to our house, and tucked under her arm was a physics book. I almost cried. They spent the afternoon at the dining room table with laptops and physics books. He has (at least on a sub-conscious level) realized he’s a nerd, embraced it, and is seeking out others like him. The circle of life is complete for that one.
The wild-card among my children appears to be Slick, the middle child. He has cool hair, a quick wit, and a free spirit. He plays two team sports. This apple may roll a little farther from the tree than the others. (He’ll probably be a Democrat.) But he did set his alarm for 3:30 A.M. a few days ago to wake up and study for a Latin test, so he’s clearly showing nerdy tendencies.
Raising a house full of nerds has made me happier and prouder than I ever could have imagined. I’ve realized that the world has enough Alpha Males. It needs more Nerds. It needs more people who value intelligence over attention and substance over style. I’m happily doing my part for the greater good!
So, to all the popular girls who called me names in high school, thank you. (I’m sure some of you turned out nicely, too.)