sideways rabbit

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Superheroes Under the Bed

"Don't worry. He'll grow out of it." Well, I'm not worried. And I also don't think he'll grow out of it. Our son's been obsessed with vehicles since the age of 18 mos., when he got a board book about construction vehicles called "Diggers and Dumpers." His first non-needful word (i.e., after "mommy," "daddy," "blankie," and "paci") was "dumper." He's five-and-a-half now, and the obsession hasn't waned; it's just been refined. Today he can identify almost every conceivable make and model of vehicle parked in a lot or whizzing by on a freeway. Since he can't read yet, he relies on visual clues: the shape of the logo on the back of a Ford pickup, the telltale curve of a Subaru Outback's back bumper, the front-to-back articulation of a Cat flatbed. But this post isn't about cars and trucks. It's about superheroes. A while back, a friend kindly gave us a giant tub chock full of action figures, his own son's entire outgrown collection. There were superheroes of every tier -- everything from the usual suspects (Batman, Spiderman, et al.) to Transformers to Star Wars figurines to curious characters who likely had their 15 minutes in a low-grossing movie. Not sure what's up with the strained-face fellow who sports boulders for hands. Edward Scissorhands' troglodytic cousin? Amid the 30-some figurines were two matchbox cars. Presented with this windfall, Beau delicately removed the pair of vehicles and shoved the rest aside. Is he the only little boy in existence who has zero affection for superheroes? Not yet willing to give the box away, I keep it tucked under our bed for visiting children. (After all, we know a little boy who has refused to get out of his Batman costume for three straight years.) SHOULD my son be playing with superheroes? Is this a crucial spoke of development, a waystation of imagination that helps kids flex some crucial moral muscle? (Y'know, that whole good-versus-evil business.) Or is he just so happy to "be here now" that he doesn't need escapist fantasies? Probably both scenarios are ridiculous. Like most mothers of only children, I am guilty of overthinking everything. Lightning McQueen and Towmater are the closest we've come to vehicle superheroes, and the infatuation was brief. Luckily, lots of monster trucks on the professional circuit sport anthropomorphic characteristics. Monster Mutt. El Toro Loco. Grave Digger. Excalibur. Bigfoot. Sampson. Avenger. War Wizard. Certainly, they're not out saving the world. But they're not exactly evil, either. It's all good.

1 comment:

  1. My son never cared about playing with superheroes either, just video games or maybe Star Wars and anything that could be turned into a weapon. My daughter was into Spiderman figures when she was young, but soon outgrew them in favor of Jne Austin and Johnny Depp.

    Now that they are both nearly grown, they still only show a fleeting interest in the movies, comics and action figures I eagerly consume and try to share with them.  I suspect, however, that they are merely humoring me in a pitiable way, but at least they turned out to be good people, despite learning their empathy from sources other than costumed crusaders. So, I wouldn't worry.

    Oh, and the guy with the strained face and boulder arms is the villain, Sandman, as portrayed by Thomas Hayden Church in the poorly-received second Spiderman sequel, Spiderman 3: