Science Fiction Supper
Some time last week, we were sitting down to supper, and Adelaide abruptly turned to me and, after making shaky motions with her hands by the sides of her head, commanded, "Daddy, let's trade brains!"
Always one to play "Yes, let's!" I copied her shaky motions and said, "Okay, now our brains are switched."
She hunched over in her chair and said in a low (for her) voice, "I saw a really interesting kidney today."
I lolled and flopped in my chair, stuck one leg up in the air and said in a squeaky voice, "Today at recess, I tried to kiss Caiden, but he ran away from me, and then I chased him down and kissed him, but I mostly kissed his big ear."
We took a couple more turns pretending to be each other, and then traded brains back. It was marvelous fun, and unabashedly sci-fi.
I'm a science fiction (and fantasy) fan, generally preferring it to mystery or thriller novels (although I often end up mixing genres, enjoying fantasy/historical novels with romantic elements revolving around a murder mystery like Bujold's Chalion books), but I try not to overtly influence the kind of stories that the kids take in. Lots of their stories have magic or aliens or robots in them, but there can be no better introduction to science fiction than their new favorite television cartoon, Phineas and Ferb.
The show revolves around the summer-vacation activity of the titular brothers, their older sister's attempts to get them in trouble (and her general angst-ridden transition from childhood to teenagerdom- in many episodes she's secretly the hero), and a local evil scientist who seeks to dominate the tri-state area. The characters build teleporters, robots, tunnels to the center of the earth, time machines, and golems, while encountering mummies, aliens, sasquatch and lake monsters. Not every episode is rife with science fiction elements, but they're all hilarious. We watch an episode or two per day, and every time these kids see a jello monster run amok, a teleporter that switches brains, or a device that translates animal noises into speech, I can almost see a door open, a window crack, a hidden staircase reveal itself behind an unassuming wall (in their minds).
But I'm not here to shill for TV shows, I'm here to say what a joy it is to play science fiction games with my kids. And I'm here to say that, despite all that I read and hear, from where I sit at the dining room table, the future is golden.