Geeky

Two months ago Evan couldn’t give a shit. Today he’s geeked out. I’m not sure what happened.

In retrospect, there were warning signs. When he was little his favorite books were the encyclopedic ones. Two years ago he read “what if: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” and declared that it was his favorite book ever. He gave me the follow-on book titled “how to: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems” this Christmas.

But at school things were not grabbing his attention. For years he declared that his favorite subject was lunch break. His next favorite subject was morning recess. He was indifferent to his teachers. He would mentioned that Luke and Sydney were the ones who knew the answers to the difficult questions. He was happy to be a bystander and cheer them on.

Last month I gave Vivian a book that Jo had given me years ago. It has a long title: “The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements”. Vivian (who is a self-described geek, among her many other personas) passed the book on to Evan. Suddenly Evan was chatting about the number of protons in a helium atom over dinner. Approximately at the same time he’d come back from school and say that he’d finished the math test before anyone else and got all his answers right. Or that he knew the most Latin and Greek roots in his English class. This was new to us. While bragging isn’t pretty it was the very first time he bragged about academics.

At around the same time he and Vivian were applying to St. Stephen’s for middle and high school. Whether they go there or not, applying and going through the admission process has been very instructive. For instance when Evan found out that he had to ask teachers and others for letters of recommendation he was surprised. “What – they have to like me?!”. The kids had to take a three hour long standardized test (the SSAT), be interviewed over Zoom, and write essays. One of Evan’s short essays was to write about his favorite word. Here’s what he wrote:

My favorite word is teleportation, and I have a lot of reasons. My first reason is that if I could have a superpower it would be teleportation. I also think the roots for teleportation are very interesting because tele means distance and port means to carry so technically a car is teleporting you, carrying you over a distance. And last but definitely not least, scientists can teleport things! I was talking to my dad and he said that using quantum entanglement scientists have teleported qubits 44km! But even though this is a scientific breakthrough it’s not really moving them.

Pretty geeky. While driving to soccer practice, Evan will wonder. “Have you ever thought how a living thing is made from inanimate things like quarks and electrons? What makes it a living thing?!”. Or “Did you know that stars can’t make elements heavier than iron without a supernova?”. (I did know, but only 10 years ago, as documented here: http://arunzadad.blogspot.com/2012/01/whats-most-amazng-thing-you-read-in.html)

This is new ground for our little fellow, and a geeky dad couldn’t be prouder : – )

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