I’ve half-criticized, half-encouraged my son’s dad for “being” Batman with elaborate explanations of why the Batmobile is currently in the Joker’s possession and how the Batcave is behind the office space downstairs. I’ve let my little guy get away with wearing Batman costumes (yes, you read that right, plural) through every store, park or airport we’ve been to for over a year now. I’ve bought my share of the collection of Batman action figures and assorted vehicles and housing structures for said action figures, all the while scoffing at the idea of a man being Batman in the eyes of his four-year-old son.It all came to a head a few weeks ago when my child’s teacher told me that he spends most of his time “playing fantasy games” instead of “choosing to participate in work”. EG- in a very traditional Montessori classroom he spent every second he could muster not on the expensive (but boring?) wooden “tools” but on the two most creative mediums he could find; play-dough and chalk. I know how he plays with play-dough. He makes snakes and space aliens and rocket ships and stages epic battles in which both sides are usually pounded into nothingness. This really bothered her. I, on the other hand, have no problem with it. “He would probably be happier in a more fantasy-based preschool” she told me. “…He doesn’t hold his pencil right. There might be some learning issues you might want to take a look at…”Um. He doesn’t hold his pencil correctly? He’s 4. I learned when I was seven, when after a rough start in second grade with a teacher that frequently called me stubborn my mother eventually bribed me into holding it “correctly”. I called her to talk about this whole pencil thing. “I never thought it was a big deal,” she said of the way I held my pencil, “until you told me that your way wasn’t comfortable either.”So I talked to Trey’s dad. At first, he said “Box up all of the superhero stuff. No more Batman.” So I did. I took it all into the garage and waited all night for him to ask me about the missing batmen.The next day, I kept him home from school and took him out to buy superhero costumes.
“Mom,” he said, sitting across the table from me some time later. “Why aren’t superheroes real?”
“Well, because there aren’t really any real bad guys, just people that make some really bad choices.” I thought about it. Okay, there aren’t any real badguys. But why can’t there still be goodguys?
I might as well confess now. Since Trey’s pretty darn verbose, it’s bound to leak out sooner or later, anyhow. My dresser drawer harbors a red tee shirt with a printed graphic of Wonder Woman, complete with her lasso of truth and awesome kicks. I’ve worn it for years, telling every kid under the age of six (except for Trey) that asked me about it my secret. Yes, that’s right. I let them all in on the revelation that I am Wonder Woman.
The other day at the library during the third week he’d been out of school, Trey found some superhero books. He grabbed this one: Batman Classic: Meet the Super Heroes: With Superman and Wonder Woman. He sold me on reading it to him later after all of his other bedtime stories by clapping his hands and excitedly saying “You love Wonder Woman, Mommy? This book has Wonder Woman and Superman and Batman” and flipping open the pages to show me her magic lasso and her invisible jet.
As I read the story and pointed to the words, he stopped me to tell me my secret: “You’re Wonder Woman.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked, amused. “Which one are you?”
“Mom! I can’t reveal my secret identity!”