I’m a big believer in play. Playing with your wife, and playing with your kids. Life is getting so serious these days. Play is the antidote to too much serious. You don’t have to turn into a big immature kid to play, just add a helping of goofball and lose a little of the frown.
Both my wife and I work full time jobs, plus we have busy and social kids. We have to schedule pick ups and drop offs with school, and it’s getting to be a lucky dip how many kids you come home with when you go to pick them up from school. Sometime you get 2 kids, sometimes 4, others none. This is by no means a complaint, these are a great group of kids in our neighborhood and we love all of them.
All four of us have a shared cell phone plan, with unlimited text messaging between us. And as all good geeks should know… a cell phone is a de facto Star Trek Communicator. So… in recent months I’ve developed a text message game that ties the whole family together. I call it the Star Trek Text Game.
The first step is to define a few terms. Take your street name, add “The” or “USS” to the front of it, and then drop the street / road from it. So “Redstone Hill Street” becomes “The Redstone” or “USS Redstone Hill”. And bingo you have the starship name of your house.
The cars are more easily named affectionately. These are shuttlecraft and the owner / primary driver’s middle name is the name of the shuttle. That or simply refer to them as shuttles or runabouts.
Naturally I am the Captain with the rank of Captain. If you’re properly geekish and want me to pick an actual character, I’m Spock. Most particularly the middle aged Spock who is no longer purely logical, but more in touch with his emotions and even goes so far to talk of faith. He is quite illogically loyal and concerned for his friends.
Jennifer is the First Officer and rank of Commander. Geeks might enjoy thinking of her as Deanna Troi, but not so much the bimbo early few seasons Troi stating the obvious, (“you feel profoundly sad”) more the final season or two where she is a full bridge officer and uniformed and packing a phaser for away missions. She has a social fluidity, emotional balance and genuine charm that still astounds me to this day. Plus she has the bedroom thing down.
Daughter #1 is an Ensign. She is more fully my daughter than her mothers, but she interfaces with technology superbly, is always connected to something either computer, ipod, phone or all three together. There’s a struggle for individuality from the collective. So she is clearly 7 of 9 our resident Borg. As Ensign she is capable of performing away missions without direct supervision. Though shuttlecraft training is a few years off.
Daughter #2 is still a crewman. Ensign next school year. Like Mom she is socially adept, sensitive and hard working in the extreme. But she has a wide variety of skills and interests too. She’ll play fight like a Klingon one minute, love money like a Ferengi, then want to read for hours like a Vulcan. There’s a multitude of talents and skills. And in time possibly the wisest of us all. So she’s a Trill. But young, button cute and a little shy. So Ezri Dax.
So that’s the Ship and the Crew…
Neighboring kids houses are referred to by street name, but changing the word denoting street to that of “system”. So someone living on “Duke Street” becomes “The Duke System”.
Another option if the street name is horrible for usage, “ 22 Peach Road” for example is awful, then just ignore the street name, and use the house number and switch it up to “Starbase 22” or “Deep Space 22” or “DS22” for short.
So we text each other a lot. Pick ups, drop offs, where are you going to, when are you back. I’m on my way. Just start texting and playing. Here’s a list of playful terms and verbiage to kick start things.
Fleet operations complete: All kids are dropped off and we are home now.
Ensign away mission to Pine System: Daughter #1 is going to her friends house on Pine St.
Creating resupply manifest: I’m going to the store, you need anything?
10 Forward?: I really need a drink tonight, wanna hook up?
ETA The Redstone 10 minutes: I’ll be home in ten minutes
Call for extraction by 2100: I’ll come pick you up from your friends house when you text, but I’ll just show up at 9pm if you don’t call earlier than that.
Memorial delegation on board: I am up to my ass in 7th graders from Memorial Blvd School.
Report: Where are you? How is it going?
How was the diplomatic conference?: How did the meeting go?
Keep a channel open: Stay in touch.
Report Overdue [Rank]: If you shut your phone off or refuse to answer my texts I will ground you young lady. Don’t think I won’t do that just because I’m capable of being playful at times.
Life support critical: We are very very hungry, please bring something to eat home.
Yellow alert: I’m not feeling comfortable here. Please come get me right now.
Red [alert]: HELP NOW. Bring the police.
So that’s the basics, just play and have some fun with it. The kids love it and I’m the cool fun dad. But also one that’s in communication and paying attention. I’ve totally been training the kids that they can dial mom and dad and be automatically dragged out of any situation by their parents. And don’t forget that this entire thing of playful attention to wife and family works for my wife and builds her interest in me. Maybe Star Trek doesn’t work for you, it does for us. But then we’re a little geeky at times.
Of course astute readers will notice that I ranked myself higher than my wife in the command structure. That’s an entire whole other post to come tomorrow.