Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Indoctrinating the Kids

I'm a good geek. A nerd among nerds. There's no point in denying it, so I might as well embrace it. My kids will have to fight their nature if they want to be cool - I can't help them. In fact, I'm not even trying.

What I am doing is indoctrinating them to nerd culture. We started reading a new bedtime novel this week - the iconic Dragonlance Saga, Volume 1: Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I LOVED this series as a young teen. They first came out when I was 14 years old and I bought each new novel on release day. (As an aside, some cretin borrowed my original first-edition paperbacks in High School and never returned them. If I knew who it was, I would name them but I don't. This is a big part of the reason that I abhor lending out my books to this day. I've been scarred for life.)

I suppose you can't call them fine literature. Fair enough. But it's an action-packed story in a full, rich world with entertaining characters who are such blatant stereotypes that it must be deliberate. But whatever. What's important is that my kids are EATING IT UP. For some reason, my daughter hates it when I suggest things she might enjoy. I have no idea why, but if I tell her "You might like this" she instantly dismisses it. In a few instances, I've dragged her along to something she swore she wasn't interested in because I was positive she'd like it and I have yet to be wrong. This was one of those times. She had no interest in this book when I first suggested it. I think my wife had expressed some reservations about it that my daughter picked up on (I honestly can't remember what the reservations were. They were mild and, from what I remember, utterly unfounded) and that biased her against it. Well, we're now 6 chapters in and at the end of each she's begged me to read another. I know my little girl, dammit! My older son is enjoying it as well and my younger son tolerates it as he does most books that aren't targeted right to his age. Sorry, kid!

I'm enjoying it, too. It's been decades since I last read these novels and I've forgotten so much about them. I'm enjoying meeting the characters once again - as cookie-cutter as they are, they're still old friends of mine who I'm glad to see once again. Plus, I get to do LOTS of different voices. The group of main characters is huge, and I guessed (correctly as it turned out) that my kids might have trouble keeping them all straight. My older son mentioned it just yesterday. So to help bring each character to life, I've given them each their own voice. The noble knight, Sturm, gets a booming, overbearing brass voice. Tanis the half-elf ranger gets my regular tenor reading voice. I grumble in the low bass for Flint, the dwarf, and I swing up into a childlike falsetto for the kender, Tas. Raistlin the frail mage speaks in a throaty whisper, while his giant brother Caramon I like best of all. I do Caramon in the voice of Lenny from Of Mice and Men - medium-deep and oafish.

I have a tough time with the gravelly, groveling goblins sometimes - it irritates my throat and makes me cough. It's probably just as well that I'm not a voice-actor by profession. But I'm enjoying my chance to not just spend time with these characters again, but to actually bring them to life.

There's three books in the first series, followed by three more in the "Dragonlance Legends" series that we may read as well. After that, there's about a bazillion more books set in the same world, many of which I own and most of which I remember as being not very good. So we may not spend much time with those. BUT, I'm pretty sure I've got the original Dragonlance D&D modules, so when it's time to start playing, perhaps we'll start with those to ease the transition. We'll see, but one thing's for sure - the legacy of nerddom is already encroaching on my kids lives. It's been a lifestyle I've enjoyed and embraced, and it's never been more socially-acceptable to be a nerd than it is today (and I suspect that it will continue to become moreso over time). So there you go, kids - your inheritance is a love of fantasy and sci-fi, computers, gadgets, and comics. Run with it!

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