Hmmm. My son’s childcare has a rule. No superhero play. Ok… I get it. They don’t want the boys fighting. But, is jumping around pretending to hiya and swing swords really that bad if it remains just that, pretend? If a child cannot handle the game without actually hitting, like the child who cannot share without hitting, then shouldn’t that child just sit out until they learn how to play by the rules?
Pre-mothering a boy, I would have wholeheartedly supported this no superhero rule. But now that I do have a 4 year old son, who absolutely loves the Ninja Turtles (it was Batman and Superman a year ago), I’m perplexed. My son loves everything about the Ninja Turtles. He loves singing the theme song over and over. He loves that his Dad and I know the theme song from when we were kids and has learned to sing our version as well as the one for the new show. He loves their names and the fact that they have nicknames. He loves identifying how each one is different. He loves learning about where they live and what they eat. And, he’s actually gaining a pretty big vocabulary through this love…like hero, villain, sewer, and sensei.
Today after school, when I asked my son if any of his friends like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as much as he does he answered, “Mom, no superheroes at school”. I had heard him say this before, but this time I had a different reaction. Today I asked, “Hey Don, do the girls play princesses at school?”, and without skipping a beat Don said, “oh, yes”. Hmmmm.
As the mother of a daughter too, I have a big problem with that. Now, I say this as my daughter is only 17 months old and yet to play pretend. But, even though she is still young, I do realize that she may be entirely into princesses and if she is, so be it. I’m not going to restrict her interests, just like I don’t restrict my son’s–I’ll discuss her interests with her and try to understand them, again, just like I do with my son.
So my point is this, if there is going to be princess play, then dear god, please let them also play superheroes…the boys and the girls. If there is an all out ban on a type of character that children are into because of the potential for a child to get hurt, I would argue that princess play could also be deemed detrimental, maybe not in terms of physical hurt, but the themes of princess play are certainly questionable, and some argue, lead to long term hurt.
I guess I’m just frustrated that my son is getting the message that his love of Ninja Turtles is wrong while his classmates are getting an entirely different message that their love of princesses is totally ok. Call me crazy (I know some people will) but I would much rather my kids–both of them– play superheroes than princesses! If they both grow up knowing that their power and strength should be used for the greater good, fine by me. I’d much rather that then them seeking out someone or something to save them.