My twelve year old son loves spending time in Radio Shacks, browsing and talking to the employees about Arduino, Arduino shields, taking apart old computers for parts, and about technological topics. I don’t understand any of the discussions and it’s funny when the clerk doesn’t know what this 12 year old boy is talking about and they look at me for help and all I can do is shrug and say, “I don’t get it either.” But I encourage my son because this is what he is passionate about.
He loves science, computers, gadgets, and taking things apart so that he can understand how something, like a remote control, works. Often we have to go to the library so he can check out books on whatever subject he is interested in (computer programming, Arduino, robots, etcetera). Benjamin will watch “how to” videos on You Tube about whatever he’s curious about to help him understand it better. And he will talk at great lengths about what he’s interested in. While most boys his age are talking about their favorite sports heroes, my son can talk about Bill Gates and Nikola Tesla. Oh yeah, and Adam Savage from Mythbusters (one of his favorite shows).
When we go to see the doctor, they are amazed at how Benjamin will converse with them on medical subjects he’s read about in his copy of Grey’s Anatomy, something he purchased with his birthday money one year. Wherever we go, be it the doctor’s or dentist’s or Radio Shack, the people there inevitably ask me, “How old is he again?”
Needless to say, he doesn’t always fit in with other kids his age. Sometimes this concerns me because along with being intelligent, he’s a sweet kid who is totally unlike his peers and this often leads to being picked on. One day last year, I picked him up from school and he was all upset. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me, “Tomorrow is dress like a nerd day at school and one girl told all the kids in my class that all they had to do was dress like me.” I hate how cruel kids can be. It’s all I can do to not barge into his school and hurt any child that would be mean to my son. I want kids to see Benjamin as the amazing and smart boy that so many adults, especially his teachers, notice. When he got his yearbook at the end of the school year, I looked at what other kids had written in it. They wrote about all the great things they believe he will invent, about how he will become a famous scientist, one joked that he would take over the world, and about how amazing he is. So maybe he doesn’t fit in, at least not in the traditional sense; I mean he’d rather wear his M.I.T. t-shirt than one for a sports team, but that’s him. Unlike so many people (including adults), my son knows who he is. He’s not ashamed of that and he doesn’t try to hide it. Watching him, I can’t help but be proud and learn how, in many ways, I should be a bit more like him myself.