Beware: Your Child May Be Headed for Nerdville

Beware: Your Child May Be Headed for Nerdville


Like many parents, you may be concerned that your son or daughter is departing the region of cool and losing his or her grip on both an anesthetizing sense of entitlement and their debilitating faith in exceptionalism. Without your consent, your child may be setting a tentative foot on the freeway to Geekville.

If you suspect he or she is targeting one of the 70,000 job openings in the techie world, look for what we call the Seven Danger Signals of Silicon Valley Blues. Rather than going to and knocking off an hour’s worth of math homework in less than two minutes, is your son or daughter diving into the River of Rigor and actually cracking those Gordian Knots on his or her own?

Rather than relying on viral, cell phone photos of completed math assignments, is your son or daughter frittering away the time, grinding out answers the way his Grandpa Cusper might have done it — had Gramps completed the math sequence beyond long division?

Does your son or daughter make frequent references to math and science classes, omitting updates on renaissance classes like slip casting, scrimshawing, boondoggling or drivers’ ed? If you suspect your child is slipping into Nerdville, here are some important questions you might ask yourself.

Does he or she own a book bag, back pack or rucksack? If so, he or she, could be covertly infesting your home with textbooks, math books in particular; freighting unseen tomes to his or her bedroom.

Wake up and smell the kimchee, your son or daughter could be a “book mule.” Without realizing it, you could be aiding and abetting a potential Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) worker.

One day, your techie son or daughter could trivialize your intellect, accomplishments and paycheck; inadvertently, you may be made to feel like a lab rat. Brave New World, Bladerunner and Roller Ball may be a lot closer to your Barcalounger, hammock and beer cooler than you think; check for tell-tale signs:

  • Have you caught your child innocently “toying” with a scientific or graphing calculator? Is he or she using that calculator for something other than a harmless door jam, a handy prop for a window or attempting to use it as a TV remote or garage door opener?
  • Does your child know arcane calculator functions well beyond the pale of add, subtract, multiply and divide?
  • Do Byzantine words like logarithm, exponential, sine, cosine and tangent slip into the conversation while you are trying focus on prime-time essentials like Big Bang Theory or Gilligan’s Island?
  • Do your kids think the Large Hadron Collider is something other than an E-Ticket ride at Wally’s World?

If you have answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then my friend you got trouble, right here in Estuary City.

Is your child excited about a math quiz coming up or is he or she planning to cut school on the day of the test? Can they trust you to write compelling excuses for their unsolved absences and classroom disappearances? Not to worry about credibility, the attendance office has been directed to suspend its sense of disbelief; to feign credulity even when presented with the lamest, most implausible excuses.

  • “Johnny was out today due to a shark attack at Franklin Pool.”
  • “Buster cannot get to school today because killer bees are swarming on our Pinto GT.”
  • “Buttercup was out today due to a plane crash on the way to school.”
  • “A tornado carried our house to Manteca; no transportation back to Alameda.” 

Once you have made the initial departure from reality, the possibilities are endless; never let yourself be hog tied by the truth — particularly in an election year. I once had a summer school student who was forced to miss school due to five separate “grandmother funerals.” 

These days, nerds, geeks and dweebs do not wear pocket protectors, carry slide rules or hold reading glasses together with paper clips and duct tape; they meld.  Unless you act now, one day your child may tell you that he or she is getting on a casino bus for Mendocino County when in fact he or she is secretly boarding the Google bus for Silicon Valley. Some parents want their children to achieve financial independence eventually but, do you want your toddler leaving home before his or her 40th birthday?

Next time, read what you can do ensure your latent digeratti will not get seduced by one of the lucrative S.T.E.M. jobs in the Bay Area.