“Mommy, the big ice cream cone with the volcano was chasing the Enterprise and the ‘Other Enterprise!’ Then the ‘Other Enterprise’ went into the ice cream cone and it went BOOM!”

This is how my two year old son, Julian, summarized his latest Star Trek episode one night at bedtime. My wife could not figure out what he was talking about, but what I heard over the baby monitor made me laugh, and very proud, both as a father and a die-hard Star Trek fan.

You have probably seen “The Doomsday Machine” a hundred times, but there is something very special about reliving Star Trek through your child’s eyes. On this Father’s Day I reflect on what a pleasure it is to share Star Trek with my son, pass along to him what I feel makes it special, and how it has impacted my own life. 

As a disclaimer, all of our Star Trek screenings are heavily edited to about 5 minutes per episode. At three years old now he is still very sensitive to intense action/danger on T.V., but the wonder and excitement of Star Trek definitely spark his imagination. These screenings have an added bonus for this dad and grizzled veteran of Trek fandom: I get to see the old episodes through fresh eyes. How often have we wished there was some lost episode that we somehow missed, to see a classic Star Trek for first time again! For me, Star Trek has always been about the family of characters, working together, and working in the name of science and peace. While it is great to relive all the adventures, sharing Star Trek as a father with Julian means more to me than just watching the old shows; it has also helped mend a tear in the fabric of my life I had once thought was irreparable.

My personal history with Star Trek started as a kid in the 70’s. Inspired by my parents and my brother, I soaked up everything Trek-related I could find: from models to Mego figures. My parents tell me they saw Star Trek in 1966, first in black and white. Later, they discovered an RCA print ad for color televisions that featured Star Trek and realized they just HAD to see this show in color, and they shared it with us.

My brother Ben was five years older, and Star Trek quickly became a passion for him. It was a strong bond between us, and a shared love for the whole family. We watched and memorized all the episodes, amassed our Star Trek collection and went to conventions. Such great memories. Ben and I would meet the stars, writers and producers of the show we loved so much, for over three decades. Each glimpse of what was coming up next in the franchise was so exciting back then, a time before the Internet and the impossibility of keeping secrets on a set.
What would they find on the Search for Spock? Could they catch lightning in a bottle a second time with The Next Generation? Could Bill direct as well as Leonard? All these questions were swirling around and we were in lockstep with every move the franchise made, enjoying every minute, every adventure. The classic episodes, the movies every 2 years, the stories told every week on The Next Generation, the ups and downs of the franchise, these  were the conduit for many of our conversations as kids and adults. We loved sharing Star Trek as a family, and it brought us closer as a result. Finally, in 2005, Star Trek took a breather after an unprecedented run, and we wondered what would come next. Little did I know that not only Star Trek, but my life was to change forever.

Sadly, shortly after enduring the tragic loss of our sister, Juliet, Ben too suddenly passed away in 2008. Their loss left a huge hole in my life, and through grieving for them – and processing losing so much -- I wondered if my passion for Star Trek would be lost without them as well. In early 2009, the first J.J. Abrams movie was poised to open and it was a bittersweet time for me.  Just months before, Ben and I had talked about the latest casting news, potential spoilers and the possibility for this new film to revitalize the franchise. But he never did get to see the film. Instead, I took my mother to a press screening. She wore one of Ben’s shirts to honor him, and we relived the excitement from years ago with a new cast but familiar characters in this latest incarnation of our beloved franchise. It was nice to have Star Trek back, but nothing could quite replace sharing it with Ben.

Late in  2009 I married my wife Robin, herself a “geek girl,” and we even incorporated the poignant Michael Giacchino cue “Labor of Love” from the new Star Trek for our processional and Vic Fontaine’s rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” from Deep Space Nine, for my mother/son dance. The luxury of marrying a geek girl is certainly not lost on me, and if not for that, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel as free to share Star Trek in turn with our son.

Julian, named for both my sister and brother, was born in 2012, and by then I couldn’t wait to share Star Trek with him. The plush Star Trek toys were becoming ubiquitous around that time, and I had to buy two of just about everything; as any good collector knows, you really need two, just in case. Imagine how baby formula could wreak havoc on a collectible! Friends gifted us with Trek onesies and it was clear that Julian was to be immersed in the trappings and iconography of Star Trek from the start. Some of his first words were, in fact, “ Space… the final frontier.” Much to my mother’s delight, he would often regale her with the complete opening monologue, a special gift for a Trekkie Grandma and father alike.

He has already made it clear that he prefers, for now, Kirk and Spock and the TOS episodes. I will offer to watch a TNG rerun on BBC America, and he will sternly say “NO, we want to watch Star Trek… with Kirk!” Hey, who could argue with that? Interestingly, while I know he loves Shatner and Nimoy, this little Trek fan has accepted Pine and Quinto as well. From the awe-inspiring images of the Enterprise rising from the ocean, Spock in a volcano, to tracing the outline of the Enterprise in the sand as the natives of Nibiru, Julian loves all of these scenes from nu-Trek and frequently acts them out with his toys (and my toys) or even just a simple stick in the sandbox. He will even often tell his teachers at pre-school, when presented with a new challenge, that he is going to brave like Captain Kirk. And I couldn’t be happier, as long as it doesn’t involve a dramatic shirt-ripping or a Kirk-Fu karate chop.

Julian currently also loves Thomas and Friends, The Little Einsteins and Team Umizoomi as much as the crews of the Starship Enterprise, Deep Space 9 and Voyager, but at least they are in the same conversation. From Tribbles falling on Kirk to Organians turning into glowing balls of light, and even Miramanee, or as he says “MiraMommy’s” Obelisk, these are some of his favorite moments. And I couldn’t ask for a better Father’s Day present than sharing them with him. It has been a special treat and reminded me not only why I love Star Trek,  but what it meant to share it with my family growing up. The Star Trek family of characters and their adventures have been a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and I’m proud to continue to share it for years to come.

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Russell Meyers is an IT professional and former motion picture booker for Paramount Pictures. He is an avid Star Trek fan and collector, currently residing in New York City with his wife and son.

 

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