REAL GEEK MOMS: Shawnon Hoskinson
The goal of my “Real Geek Moms” series is to show the world that moms can be geeky too. When you think of a mom, you don’t always wonder if they’re geeky, but you know what? They might just be! I’m here to let the world know that moms DO know what they are talking about. They can be geeky too, maybe even more than their kids! Plenty of mothers in the world love teaching their kids how to embrace their inner geekiness. I’m on a mission to find them! I’ll even talk to pet owners and how they like to embrace the geek with their pets. Prepare to meet amazing women all over the world.
Meet Shawnon Hoskinson, a mother of two, married to Joe Hoskinson. She’s a geeky mom who not only loves to embrace her own obsessions and passions, she loves letting her kids show off theirs too. I interviewed her and got to know more about her and her kids geeky sides. You can follow Shawnon on twitter here, to keep up with the shenanigans in her life!
What does being a geek mean to you?
For me, it’s having pure enjoyment and love for something. We all have that movie, ok MOVIES in my case, that we can just recite every line too. We also know every chord of the music, what song is playing in what scene, and we know the backstory of every character. And you take a sense of pride in the fact that you know all this, it makes you feel good, it makes you feel special. That’s the feeling I think of when I think of Geek culture if you will. You feel like you’re a part of something bigger that yourself, it’s an experience that you are sharing with others.
There’s always someone out there who thinks women are being fake geeks, what’s your take on that?
That’s such an outrageous concept isn’t it? Being “fake” geeks or “fake” fans. I honestly don’t think I had ever really heard such a thing until the advent of social media. Maybe because it’s so easy to reach so many people; to interact with people involved in those fan bases as well as actors, musicians, writers. It happens so much across the board with things such as politics, music, movies, books, and comic books. It’s truly startling and disheartening some of the things that you can witness transpire among a fanbase, on Twitter especially. This whole idea of someone being a BIGGER fan or MORE of a geek than someone is just kind of absurd to me. Sure you have those who may have been a fan longer, but does that make them better? Since when is being newly exposed to something necessarily making you inauthentic? I don’t think you have to have a shrine built in your house to the things that you love just to be considered a real “geek.” If someone hands you a comic and says “oh you have to read this,” or gives you a cd and says “this has the best track on it, you have to listen,” isn’t the important thing the fact that they walked away with a new respect and love of it? I for one am elated when I can expose someone else to something that I take an interest in and in turn they relish it as well.
What’s your job?
I work for a major health insurance provider actually. I know, doesn’t sound terribly creative, but it gets the job done. Prior to that, I worked for an art museum here in town.
How many kids do you have and what are their names? How old are they?
Two cantankerous, gregarious, little wild men. Austin is 9 and Wyatt is 4.
As a mother, do you feel it’s important to let your kids express themselves however they want?
I think it’s important to remember that while we are here to guide them and help them become the best little human beings they can be, they are also individuals. If something makes them happy, if they have a love for it then more power to them. It doesn’t matter if someone else likes it or not.
How long have you and your husband, Joe, been married?
Oh, now you’re going to put me on the spot. 11 years. But we’ve been together closer to 15.
We, unfortunately, see kids getting bullied for various things, for example showing off their love for superheroes, comics or anything else that gets considered geeky, have you given your kids advice on how to deal with it (if it ever happens to them)?
I think my advice to them is the same as it has always been in terms of bullying in general. You don’t allow yourself to be one and you don’t tolerate someone who is. Don’t give them the power over you; if they know that it just isn’t a factor to you and that they aren’t going to change you or make you ashamed, then many times it will lose its appeal to them. If you witness it being done to someone else, you stand up for them, take it to an adult if you have to but don’t let it happen. Don’t be a bystander to wrong. The 9-year-old has definitely been in a few situations already where he has had to deal with a few not so nice people. Usually when it comes to sports because let’s face it little boys, and some adults, can be brutal sometimes in the world of organized sports. I remember this past year we had a situation with basketball where he just got very emotional at a game and it was just not a good experience for him. He was crying, and he was anxious, and he just would not take the court. The mom in me just immediately went into overprotective mode “oh no some kid is going to say something to him at school on Monday and it’s going to be awful.” When he came home on Monday he just went right along with his afternoon, never mentioned it. I finally asked him “did anything happen, did anyone bring it up?” He just shook his head and said “a couple of people did.” You know man of few words this one. “So are you ok with it?” And he just shrugged and said, “I’m fine, I just don’t care what they say.” I think that was one of those moments where I stepped back and looked at him and just thought, way to go little man. I can only hope that it’s the tools he has been given by us that help him to get through those times.
If you and your family were given the ability to become superheroes, what would your powers be?
I posed this question to the kids actually to see what they would say. Austin wants super speed and super strength and Wyatt said he wants to be like the Flash, and then promptly requested that I buy him a costume. They both think that I should be like Wonder Woman and their dad should be like Superman. I don’t know, I think maybe I would like to be able to read minds, it might keep me out of a lot of predicaments. Then again, it might just cause them, it could be a lot to take in. I could see Joe (my husband) as a super strength kind of guy, you know like Steve Stronghold in Sky High. (He would definitely say more like Superman).
What are some of your obsessions? What makes you turn into an instant geek?
Wow, I think I have a few and I’m always adding to it because I have such a love of cinema. You don’t want to see the DVD collection we have, it’s pretty ridiculous. We need an intervention I think. You will definitely catch me geeking out in a major way over LOTR/The Hobbit, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Boondock Saints, and The Walking Dead. I love pop culture and have always enjoyed cult classics. I also have developed a real love and appreciation of the Marvel Universe.
What are your kid’s hobbies? Do they collect anything? Obsessions?
ACTION FIGURES! We have them EVERYWHERE. Boxes of them. My oldest started pretty early with his superhero fascination and his favorite things are the action figures. We have gone to great lengths to find some for him. There was an all-out quest right around the time of his 3rd birthday for a Hawk Girl figure, miraculously we found one online and it arrived ON his birthday. Then when the Avengers came out he would not rest until we located a Hawkeye figure. Of course could not find one anywhere. Same with Black Widow. I seriously thought it was a lost cause. Then we made the decision to go to a convention in Columbus that year and came home with three of them, so needless to say I had a very happy boy. Something that I have always appreciated in him is his attention to detail and his love of the maybe not so prominent characters as well as the main stream heroes. He’s sort of a root for the underdog kind of dude. He’s such an intuitive, clever kid and always knows so much about each of these characters; he watches all the DVDs and reads books and he can rattle off information at the drop of a hat. We were in a Disney store once and they had just started selling these Marvel figures. I stood there for a good 20 minutes listening to him go on and on about each one; names, what their powers were, what their real names were, where they were from, and their entire back story. Another customer was standing nearby and he turned around and glanced back and forth from me to Austin and says “Well, I’m impressed.” Austin has passed this admiration on to his little brother who can normally be found waging a war of good versus evil somewhere in the house with the same figures. You know it’s one of the many things that I truly value and adore about both of them, they have such incredible imaginations. I honestly never know what they are going to come up with or what they are going to say.
Do your kids play any sports? Do they have favorite sports teams? Do they collect any sports memorabilia?
Austin, the oldest, has been playing sports pretty much since he started Kindergarten. Always at his own request. He’s played basketball, football, baseball, and he’s getting ready to start Cross Country for the first time. But I have to say his true love is basketball, I think he would rather do that more than anything. This school year he ended up playing on two teams so we were on the go pretty much all week and then most weekends. Though he hasn’t really gotten into the memorabilia so much yet, I see it on the horizon, it’s more the clothes right now. Ha, the memorabilia might be less expensive. He doesn’t follow the professional teams quite as closely as he does the college, he’s a University of Kentucky fan all the way. Go Big Blue! The most exciting thing he did this year was getting to meet Willie Cauley Stein-that kid was over the moon.
Was there ever a moment in your life where you thought you should tone down your obsessions, likes, and interests?
I think most people go through periods here and there where they consider it, think maybe they are being childish and maybe they are going to make things hard on themselves. The Funny thing is, I went through a particularly harsh bullying experience as a kid and not one person ever really knew anything about me or what my likes or dislikes were. In reality they didn’t take the time to get to know me at all, they just went on the attack largely because I was painfully shy at that point. I was a pretty easy target. The fact of the matter is, some people are just jerks and it’s not going to matter what you do or don’t do they are still going to be jerks. Period. So I think I cast the idea of hiding who I was, what I was interested in, pretty quickly after that. I think it still took me a long time to find my voice, though, I was very cautious with people after that. But I think in the end we tend to gravitate to those people who have similar interests, my friends were people who were perfectly happy to geek out with me.
As your children grow up, what kinds of advice have you given them to continue doing what they love and loving what they want?
From day one I think I let it be known that I will be supportive first and foremost. Whether it’s a hobby, a career goal, sports, other life goals. I strive to make sure that they both understand that no matter what, they will never have anyone in their life that will have their back and be their most rigid ally more than we will. I feel like that translates into so many different aspects of life. I have told Austin multiple times, I just want you to do what means something to you and you can do anything, anything. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you can’t do something; never give up on what you really want.
If you could be a character in any movie, which would you be and why?
That’s a tough one. There are so many great characters. I really find the various characters in Tolkien to be utterly fascinating, he was such a brilliant writer and a great mind. The elves are still probably my favorite so I think I would have to choose one of them. There is an intensity and beauty about them, yet a fragility that simmers beneath the surface. While they are considered wise, at times they still fail at making the right decision immediately. I know that there are still die hards who weren’t so appreciative of the Jackson films and thought that he veered too far from the books or didn’t grasp the characters or left too much out; I happen to think he did a really remarkable job bringing them to life on screen. It’s a lot of material to wade through and I think he did so with grace. I’m a huge fan of the literature as well, but he breathed life into these beings for me and I am glad of it.
You’ve really shown that a mother can not only be geeky herself but teach her kids how to embrace their inner geek, what’s your advice to all the mothers out there who don’t feel like they should embrace their inner geek or their kid’s inner geek?
No fear. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry so much about what this person or that person will say. As adults we have so many distractions, so many worries, that we forget that there’s nothing wrong with finding some enjoyment in something outside of the day to day. I’m guilty of this myself. I’m a natural born worrier I think, and at times it can consume me. We need an outlet too and we should be accepting of it in whatever form it comes. Whether it’s walking the aisles of a convention hall or popping The Hobbit in the DVD player and getting lost in that world for a few hours. I think you will find that a lot of times the kids will want to do these things with you, and they will share your passion for it so then it becomes something you can do together. There’s great significance in that; you are then creating memories for them as well, things they will draw from later in life.