Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Not all heroes wear a cape - some wear Baby Gap...
I was thinking the other day about how you can judge the age of a child roughly by the kind of superheroes that enthrall them at any given time. My theory goes something like this: the older the child, the more powerful the superhero. My two have run the gamut of the superhero world, and sure enough, prove the rule.
When the boys were about thirteen months old and just starting to talk, there was only one person who attained the status of superhero. It was our postman. Even hearing his 60cc bike wheezing up the hill outside our house was enough to send them into ecstasies of "It's Postman" (spelled with a capital P, like Spiderman, or Superman). I often used to wonder what super-human powers Postman was endowed with - certainly not the ability to get the post to us on time every day. But to the boys, he was amazing. I think it had something to do with the bike - Postman has equipment, somewhat like Batman. Cool.
Following hot on the heels of Postman came Garbageman. He was cooler because he drove a bigger vehicle and could stand at the pavement and throw garbage into the truck with one hand. For a tense few months (for me) the boys wanted to be nothing but Garbage men when they grew up.
Next, it was the turn of Jack Stone. For those of you not familiar with Jack Stone, he is a Lego character who can turn any piece of Lego equipment into something else. He is able to turn a boat into a helicopter and a crane into a lasso that can catch a helicopter out of the sky. This phase was characterised by the boys stomping around in the biggest set of boots they could find (usually the Sweetpea's snowboots) and saying things like "Where there is a problem, there is a solution", and "Can do, will do, done".
However, for all of his ingenuity, Jack Stone was just a man, and so faded out when the next hero appeared on the horizon: Fireman Sam. All men are created equal, after which some men become firefighters: they are hot stuff according to my two (pun totally intended). The boys insisted on having fire badges drawn on the backs of their hands in pen, which they would flash at unsuspecting people, and they would yell "Emergency, fire!" at the tops of their voices, causing a few moments of alarm in the hearts of unsuspecting shoppers and playgroup leaders.
But now my little ones have graduated on to the real superheroes in life - ones that have muscles on their muscles, those who can fly faster than a speeding bullet, walk up walls, spin webs to catch thieves, or who have small, much-envied sidekicks named Robin. If it doesn't breathe ice or move mountains, it's just not good enough, as far as they are concerned.
Somehow, it is programmed into a boy's genetic code to need a hero to look up to. And I hope that as time passes, my two will set their sights on a hero somewhat closer to home - their dad. And if they do, they will learn that being brave is all about being the only one that knows he is afraid and facing that fear anyway. They will learn that courage is not brutal force, but force of reason and virtue; it is the ability to not let actions be influence by fears. And if they learn the half of that, they are going to turn out all right.