Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fighting the Bad Guys

The other day I was looking at mama-blogs and found a mama writing about her daughter who is obsessed with Superman. Included was a photo of her cutie dressed as her hero. Charming! Subversive! Feminist! And then I think about my own reaction to Luke's love of all things superhero. Not so cute, at least to me.

And, too, I think about how I encourage my sons to browse the little ovens, the tiny princesses at the store, how I glow with pride when Luke plays with the old "My Little Pony" collection that my mom has saved from when her girls were little. How I felt so accomplished when Luke used to say that his favorite color was pink. But, see, then it became pink and red. Then just red. As in red like Spiderman. Red like Superman. Even, yes, red like blood.

Because the blood is what I'm resisting here. I don't want my sons to be typical, this is true. I want to have kids that stay firmly outside the cultural pressures for them to play with certain toys, act certain ways. I would like my sons to feel as free to play with dolls as with guns. And maybe, hopefully, they do. But what I'm more scared of, I think, is that Luke is so interested in not just superheroes, but guns, shooting, killing. Why? What have I done wrong as a parent?

Of course, the answer is probably nothing. It just goes against everything inside me as a mom to hear my little boy, my sweet little guy, say "I'm blowing up the head of the bad guy!" What am I supposed to do? Say, "Okay dear, time for breakfast"? Or give him a lecture on gun control and educating our criminals? Probably the former. I should not lecture so much as tolerate. I'm sure he's working through all sorts of things when he plays like this.

I think in the big picture this is all a part of the huge letting go that is parenting. Our babes are born so innocent, and we have so much in our hearts and minds for them. But they continually go beyond, outside, around our expectations. They are people, more and more every day, with their own ideas and interests. Each day we are forced to let go a little bit more. And even though some of the things that my kids do scare me, I'm trying let my children go little by little, bit by bit, without fear.

I'm fighting the bad guys, too.

1 comment:

Dove Knits said...

I once babysat a four-year-old girl who was obsessed with talking about killing things. I never figured out why this was. Maybe she was dealing with a death in the family. Maybe she was trying to figure out what death was, period. Either way, she got through that phase, and she was, even then, a very sweet, kind, helpful, cheerful, playful, lovable little kid who adored her little brother.

I think, with Luke and with other little kids who go through the "kill the bad guys" phase, it's a way of exerting control over an increasingly scary world. They're starting to realize that alot of things can happen that will hurt. There are dangers everywhere -- in crossing the street, wondering off by yourself, talking to strangers. By being superheroes and blowing the heads off the bad guys, they're making themselves feel safer, like nothing bad can happen to them. It just seems like it has less to do with violence and more with staving violence off.

I don't know. Luke's a good kid, I know that much :)