I didn’t think I would have to defend myself about this, but apparently I do. I contribute to the Good Comics for Kids blog over at School Library Journal, and over the past year I’ve been doing an irregular feature about reading the webcomic Homestuck. The series has gotten a lot of comments, mostly positive, from teenagers, who are not just surprised that a parent would read Homestuck, but would also like it. There have also been some not so positive comments that rather perplex me. Their basic point is that I’m reading Homestuck so that I can be “a friend” to my kids and not the parent I’m apparently supposed to be.
There are so many assumptions at work here that I’m not sure where to begin. I may have written about this before in regards to another topic, but I’m not for the “let’s be sisters” kind of relationship that some mothers seek with their daughters. I don’t need to do things to win my kids’ approval or try to get them to think I’m cool. The things I like and do are completely independent of my kids’ likes. I’m not the mother who will hand her teenage daughter 18+ BL manga, or teach other kids how to hide their BL manga so their moms won’t find out. (Yes, I heard about an actual mother talking about doing this at a panel at a con some time ago.) I have no interest in “hanging out” with my kids, or being “buds” with them.
By that same token, I also don’t want to be the domineering mother who will put down their interests because they’re not the same as mine, or is going to tell them what they can or can’t watch/listen to/read. I give them their privacy with the understanding that they are going to respect the rules they were given with that freedom, and for the most part they have respected them. There was some boundary pushing at the beginning, but the give and take has worked out to the benefit of both parties.
If there is anything I can be accused of, it’s wanting to have a good relationship with my daughters. There can be mutual respect between mothers and daughters without the mom trying to bribe them into liking them. I know, because I had that relationship with my own mother. No one would ever have accused my mother of trying to be my friend, but she shared her love of mysteries and Sherlock Holmes with me, which turned into a lifelong love of the genre. By the same token, she watched Doctor Who with me (the 5th Doctor) and enjoyed it even if she didn’t become the raging fan I did.
I am a geek. A fangirl. I have been so since I was in elementary school when I watched Star Blazers and read X-men and Elfquest comics. I have carried my love of comics, anime and manga, and fantasy into adulthood. My house is filled with books and DVDs that my kids can not only see, but partake of as well. So, they know what I like, and share those things they have found with me. We all play the same dragon raising game Dragon Cave. We all like and read Homestuck. We all like to sing “Escape From the City” from the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack. That was probably one of the most fun moments I’ve had with my kids. Driving down the street, all three of us singing at the top of our lungs. I’ve done these things not because I wanted to force myself into my kids lives, but because they are things they enjoyed, and they thought I would enjoy them too. And you know what? They were right.
I’m not a mom trying to pretend I’m into geeky things to get in good with my kids. I’m a geek mom that shared my love of geeky things with my kids, and they have reciprocated. That’s shouldn’t be a crime.