When my little guy came home from preschool wanting to play Superman and Batman, I was troubled. I hadn’t introduced those fictitious characters into his organic little life…were they okay? He had played with blocks and cars and pots and pans and bubbles and dirt (lots of dirt)…I wanted to protect him from commercialized childhood as long as possible. I thought I could keep him in his crystalline bubble longer than three short years. I lost a little sleep over this change, admittedly, and spent a lot of time pondering out the window, while he played and I missed it.
My husband was not as affected. ‘Oooooohhh superheroes…they do all kinds of things, like fight eeeeevvvviiiillllllll.’ His snarkiness did put it in perspective a bit.
Superheroes help people. They defend the weak and protect the innocent. They come to the rescue, physically and mentally. They are intelligent, brave, strong, and compassionate. Aren’t those admirable qualities? Aren’t those the qualities I want my little
guy to learn? I realize this line of thinking is somewhat shallow, but it brought resolution to my addled mind.
Until my little gal began talking about princesses…oh crap. Once again, I had fought Disney tooth and nail. Putting the sparkly, fairy tale gifts away in the ‘rainy day’ cabinet, and dreading the day when I would have to pull them out. I didn’t want to see her prancing around in tiaras and ruffly dresses. I changed the words in the bedtime stories so that I didn’t plant princessy ideals in her head. I didn’t want her to dream about castles or princes or imagine that damsels in distress couldn’t help themselves.
Sigh…until I remembered my husband’s snarky superhero comment. And that got me thinking about princesses. They are not always princesses by choice, sometimes just by chance. They dress well and have manners. They have power but have to learn how to use it correctly. They have to have good PR skills and educate themselves on the topics of the time. And…again, aren’t these the skills I want my daughter to develop? Knowledge and care of others and self.
So, now we have Superman capes, Batman masks, and Spiderman costumes…and tiaras, gowns, and clompy shoes. The little ones dress up to rescue and to protect…both of them. They share crises and solutions. They run around finding bad guys and helping citizens. They are developing character and changing their little worlds. They are learning to make happily ever after for everyone.