Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Webs will heal the world

Andrew was helping me with something on the computer, and saw a picture of a baby crying.

"That baby is sad."

Me: "Yes. What do we do when babies are sad?"

"Help them."

Me: "What would you do to help the baby?"

Andrew: "I think...spin webs for her. Spin webs on her eyeballs."

Me: "What do you do when Simone is sad?"

"I give a Spiderman to Simone!"

Can you see a trend in our life?

Before being in the thick of parenting, I might have been alarmed at his love for all things Spidey. Maybe not alarmed...but I'd think the kid had no creativity and was drawn to violence. =) Um, neither are an issue for him. It's been one of the most intriguing realizations of parenthood, actually, in that children pull from ANYTHING who they actually are in spirit, I think.

Andrew loves that Spiderman saves people and fixes bad things, and he's got such a helper instinct. When he's upset about something, I can turn his tide by asking him to help me with something. Anything. Wipe up a spill, put something high so Simone can't get it, take a rag to the laundry bin. He thrives on it.

It also helped him sort through some nighttime fears he'd had about the "mean guy in the closet." He had a vivid imagination about the scary stuff, but I don't think (before Spiderman) that he had all the tools about how to combat it. Does that make sense? He informed me once that "Spiderman can kick bad guy's butt." Can you tell he has a big brother?

He never cared about TV at all...I couldn't get him to sit still to watch it...and then, on the 24 hour drive home to see my mom we had it in the portable DVD player for Jack. I was stressed about the trip home, fearing we might not make it back, and I was soooo grateful that Andrew seemed distracted by "Spiderman." It was the first time he'd tuned in and watched something.

I was sure we'd have a major mess to clean up with his nighttime fears, now that he'd gotten "official" images of mean guys, like the Green Goblin. But it really helped! He now saw someone who could take care of those things, and HE wanted to be that person. Hence, the 24/7 Spiderman suit that only comes off when it's in the wash. Ask anyone who has seen him at the grocery store. He doesn't even need the movie anymore, and has rarely watched it in recent history. But it left its mark.

Reading "Raising Cain" was one of the most eye-opening, helpful books in parenting. A few others, but that normalized the male spirit for me. I love boy-stuff. But it was also helpful to read "Philosophy of Superheroes" and "Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes and Make-Believe Violence."

When you live in a house where most members wears capes and suits 99.9% of the day (and my 4.5yo asks if I can buy him red tights), it's helpful to have some books up my sleeve. At least, to see that there are others that see complexity and beauty of a superhero fascination.

I just overheard Andrew say to Jack: "Nah, that bad guy doesn't scare me." Haha. And then moments later: "I can fly all the way to Mars."

I imagine when you're only 2, something that gives the promise of super-strength, awesome powers, and social justice must be very, very enticing. Not a whole lot of that going around for a 2yo.

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