From the start, I had my reservations. But when gifts began flooding in from loved ones, it felt almost impossible to say no. You can’t have this. Especially when we live so far away, and those reminders make you feel an extra special something every time it crosses your path.
Which brings us to today, just over a month after Christmas. When superheroes began to overtake our house in every form.
“Darwin is being Spider-Man at school and his webs are too fuerte,” my husband told me after picking him up.
He made a motion with his hand like he was throwing a web. And at that moment, I knew. Spider-Man. Batman. And the set of four action figures I didn’t even know the names of, would have to go.
Our son has always been a very physical kid. Strong. Active. Expresses himself in times of great joy and great sadness with a full body of emotion. He’s our little tucky boose. And I love his spirit. His fearlessness. The way he refuses to give up. Traits that like any other, have the potential to express themselves in a multitude of both positive and negative ways.
Whether that means climbing the highest trees or barreling down a steep hill full speed on his bike. Or hurling webs at unsuspecting amigos at school. Helping him understand his place in the circle of life is my job.
It started off innocently enough. In fact, it was pretty cute. Until then, we had been playing with the dolls at home in a more tame fashion. Spider-Mom, we called her. And Bat-Dad. They would talk about making dinner for the Spider-Babies. And going to the park. Taking naps. And reading bedtime stories. The normal kind of pretend that comes along with all his inanimate objects.
But influence has a way of finding itself in.
So we said good-bye for now. Maybe see you later.
There were tears. So many tears. Especially when we had to put his beloved jacket up on the highest shelf in the closet. The one that zips all the way to the top of his head, with two eye holes cut out creating that authentic Spider-Man look and feel.
I’m sorry, buddy. It’s my fault. Not yours.
Because even though it was his webs. It was my choice to let that world into ours. Introducing obscure concepts about good guys and bad guys to a mind that can’t quite distinguish between reality and make-believe. And all the complexities that go along with fighting crime. Or even comprehend quite what crime is.
It’s been good since then. And every time he asks about the sweatshirt. Always the sweatshirt. We have an opportunity to talk about playing pretend when it comes to imitating these kinds of characters and situations. About being a big kid. Big kid behavior. Big kid kinds of toys. And how 1+1+1=3. Or 4. Or 5. Or whatever age that ends up being.
Because what’s right for someone, might never be for another.
And cars. Cars are cool, too.