I took my son to a superhero birthday party on Saturday. It was at the home of the boy my son would probably call his best friend. It was a drop-off party – as in parents aren’t invited. I guess kids-only parties start right around the fifth birthday, and we’re just four months into the five-year-old territory, so I’m still getting used to the idea.
My son came home talking about the ninja toy the birthday boy got as a gift. The “light green ninja” had a backpack on, with green discs inside. My son called them pennies but the kids in the know quickly corrected him, he told me. Other times my son has been at this home he has come home asking when I am going to buy him superhero Legos.
For the past few years, this friend of his has been his primary source of information about superheroes. We don’t watch them around here. We don’t buy them either. Only occasionally can I be persuaded to read a book about them. At this age, peers already influence a child’s preferences about play more than any other source of input. And these kids are getting the script from the cartoon makers. (What ever happened to true creative play?)
Am I the only one that thinks this superhero thing is a little off base? And what can I do about it? Take a this-too-shall-pass approach? Find some five-year-old boys for my son to play with who don’t talk about superheroes incessantly? (Are there any to be found in this country?) Balance out peer input with stories that do NOT promote violence as the solution a problem or do NOT teach that strength equals power?
How do we teach boys about the value of humility and meekness? Yes, meekness. As in strength under control.