Tag Archives: Littlegeekshuilessons

Little Geek Shui Lessons: Abraham Lincoln vs. Luke Skywalker

Today’s Little Geek Shui Lesson was painful. It all started with Abraham Lincoln, who is the subject of a third grade book report that Little Geek Shui has to write. Many parents will agree when I say that getting a child to not just do it, but actually want to do it are two very distinct things.

What was my solution to achieve this? Like many a parent before me, I tried to relate the subject to one of his own interests. What path did I take? …the Jedi one, of course. I scribbled what you see below on a piece of paper for him.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Luke Skywalker


…were raised humbly on a farm.

…travelled far from home to reach their destiny.

…believed in something bigger than themselves.

…fought valiantly for their cause.

…forever changed the worlds around them.

It is because of what they chose to do that they are remembered…instead of simply recalled.

Little Geek Shui Lessons (Holiday Edition): The Student Becomes the Master

This week Little Geek Shui and I had one of our impromptu lessons. This time, though, I was the student, and he was the teacher.

He approached me and innocently asked if I wanted to be in his Christmas show. With him being eight years old, I assumed it was to be some sort of game in his room. I was wrong.

No, Little Geek Shui had bigger things planned. My “yes” was apparently the final element necessary to bring his not-so-evil plan to fruition.

He promptly presented me with a two-page script for his Christmas show. Written for two players, it included witty dialogue and musical numbers. My role was to be that of the “Head Elf”. He, of course, would be “Santa Claus”. The plan was to perform it for our family on Christmas day.

The surprises didn’t stop there. He informed me that he had emailed me a schedule for rehearsals and things (read: props) we would need. With the great deal of thought that had obviously gone into the project, there was no way I could back out.

So, on Christmas morning, you’ll find me performing in “Christmas Eve”. Where is the Little Geek Shui Lesson in all this? It’s a simple, yet important, one. Little Geek Shui reminded me how important holidays with family are. They’re the times when we create memories that will stay with us long after children are grown and out on their own. Those memories are what give us strength when things are tumultuous. They are what make us…us.

His exuberance and desire to do something big that people will remember forever makes me proud to be his father. Thusly, I would be remiss not to say, “Thank you, Little Geek Shui.” It seems the student has become the master…at least for today.

In closing, I invite you to enjoy the incriminating evidence I’ve posted herein that proves what a great kid Little Geek Shui is. If you’re a Broadway producer, feel free to give Little Geek Shui a call.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Little Geek Shui Lessons: Patriotism and National Anthems

This morning, Little Geek Shui had another impromptu lesson. The topic of discussion was patriotism. It stemmed from another little lesson where I was teaching him the words to the U.S. national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. We had been going over it in the car ride to school for a couple of days. Why was I teaching it to him? Well, I felt it important to teach him not only the words to the song, but also to understand its origins and what it means to an entire nation of people.

For the purpose of brevity, I’ll keep the recounting of the story to a minimum. Basically, I taught him the words. Then, we went back over the verses. I explained the tougher words and the story they told in words an eight year old is certain to easily understand. I also Googled up the Wikipedia article on its writing and had him read it aloud to me. It may sound like a bit much, but I think it’s very important. I also went on to tell him that he’ll often here it embellished by pop stars or accompanied by fireworks and a missing man formation fly-over by the U.S. Air Force or Navy jets but that it’s not necessary. “Sometimes,” I explained, “the most touching rendition is the classic arrangement, sung as the flag gently waves in the breeze.”

There is often much debate on what patriotism means. In my explanation to him, I told him that it isn’t about knowing the words to a song or properly handling a flag. It’s about the symbolism behind it. It’s about the things for which they stand. My words to him were something to the effect of, “They represent the belief in something bigger than ourselves. They represent hundreds of years of hope, perseverance and, in some cases, lost lives, all in the pursuit of obtaining and maintaining a free state.”

I went on to tell him that the rights we have aren’t held by people in every country around the world and that it’s important to consciously be thankful for the freedom to speak, assemble, worship and simply live, basically as we choose. Of course, throughout the story, I made sure to stop and make sure he understood exactly what I was trying to get across. As usual, since he’s such a smart kid, it was easy.

To conclude the lesson, I explained that, when the national anthem is played at an event or ceremony, we stand up straight, put our right hand on our hearts, and look at the flag. As we do, we listen to the words and remember that we’re not just remembering our nation’s past, we’re committing ourselves, anew, to its future.

I think Little Geek Shui’s lesson serves as a good reminder to all citizens of “free” countries. Flags, national anthems, and ceremonious tributes to them are not obligatory or routine. They’re reminders of who we are, from where we came, and where we would like to go in the future. There’s always room for improvement, and saluting the flag that represents us seems like as good a place to start as any.


Little Geek Shui Lessons: Being a good, big brother

The other day, as I drove along with just Little Geek Shui in the car, we were talking about his little brother. With him being eight and his brother not yet four months old, there is a considerable gap. Little Geek Shui loves his little brother, Baby Geek Shui. He reads to him, tries to soothe him when he cries, and generally just helps out with him however he can.

As we talked, I asked him why he thought he should be a good big brother. He responded that his brother is just a baby. He said, “Who would be mean to a baby?” It makes sense, right? Who would be mean. I told him that, although that was correct, I was getting at something else. I told him that, as a father, I can show Baby Geek Shui how to be a good dad and husband, while Baby Geek Shui’s mom could show him what a good mother looks like. I told him that there was one big piece left…

…how to be a good brother.


Explaining it as easily understandable as possible, I told Little Geek Shui that everything he said, did or, in some cases, didn’t say or didn’t do would serve as a lesson for Baby Geek Shui as to what a brother should be like. I went on to tell him that everything he did would contribute greatly to how Baby Geek Shui grows as a person.

(Now, some might say that this is a lot of pressure to put on an eight year old, but I would argue that instilling a sense of responsibility and applying pressure are two entirely different things.)

Continuing on, I explained that his job, as a big brother, is to take care of his little brother. Examples such as taking him places and picking him up, helping him with his homework, or teaching him how to play video games were included in our discussion. At the end, I asked him if he understood why all of this was important. Little Geek Shui indicated that he did, indeed, understand that it is his duty to take care of his little brother.

Finally, I told him that there was one more reason that had to do with him. Explaining that one day, many years from now, he would be 80, while his brother would be 72, I said, “You might need your brother to take care of you. The same kindness, understanding and love that you show him now is what he is likely to show you when you need it most.”

Too much pressure? I think not. We learn how to be many things in life. One may not have to go to school to learn to be a big brother, but we definitely need a nudge in the right direction.

I have no doubt Little Geek Shui will continue to be a helpful and loving big brother. After all, that’s just the kind of kid he is. In the end, I don’t pretend to think that every big brother is like him, but I think the world would definitely be a better place if they were.

Little Geek Shui Lessons: Gypsy Kings, talking guitars, and casta??uelas

This morning, I introduced Little Geek Shui to the Gypsy Kings and flamenco. I explained to him that they are French musicians who sing in Spanish. I told him that Flamenco originated in Spain. I reminded him that his family on his mother’s side came to Puerto Rico from Spain about three generations ago. I also explained to him my feeling that if you listen carefully to flamenco, it sounds like the guitar is singing to you.

I try to expose him (as I will with his brother in the future) to a wide range of music, from artists across many genres. Why? I’m a self-confessed music junkie. I love music. From classical to rock, jazz to trance, or country to rap, every genre has at least one or two artists that I like.

Whether it be in English, Spanish, French or any other language is unimportant. The instruments are the meat of music. Vocals are a complimentary wine that accompanies the meal. Even if I don’t particularly enjoy listening to something, I still appreciate it simply because it is another form of melodic artistry.

For me, no other form of media has music’s ability to evoke such strong emotional reactions or permanently etch a moment in time in our memory, by simply playing in the background.

So, as I dropped him off for school I asked him, “Do you get what I’m saying about being able to hear what the guitar is saying?”

He answered, “Yeah, I do.”

For some reason, I don’t doubt that he does. He seems to be developing my appreciation for music. If that is a gift I can pass along to him as a loving father, I will gladly…and proudly….do so.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. The casta??uelas are calling and my hips are starting to twitch….