A very serious event occurred in our household the past week. We lost Joaquín’s Batman cape—with attached mask. Joaquín’s convinced he can’t fly now. In fact, he won’t let Javi call him “Batman.” If he does, Joaquín will correct him, “I’m not Batman. I don’t have my cape.”
The boys have worn their Batman and Superman costumes almost every day since Halloween. Each morning, we put them on before we go to the nanny’s house. We use it as leverage to get them ready, “Well, if you don’t hurry, we won’t have time to put on your costume!” After wearing them these past five months, Javi’s boots have holes in them, Joaquín’s mask is so stretched out it doesn’t fit his face right, and we have to pin them into the costumes because the small pieces of Velcro don’t stick any more.
We’ve looked in all the usual places: under the bed, behind the couch, in the garage (don’t ask), and outside. No luck. We know it’s here, hiding and shape-shifting out of our grasp like a pesky villain eluding a superhero. With the missing cape and mask, and the tears because we can’t find it (and of course Javi has his cape, which just adds salt to the open wound), it made me wonder why we bought the stupid things in the first place.
When I look online, I see the debate about superheroes and boys. How some researchers believe boys who are into superheroes tend to be more aggressive and that today’s superheroes aren’t those of the past with their weaknesses (Superman’s kryptonite, Spiderman’s complexity to both fit into society and also make a difference, Batman’s lack of superpowers but vision to “clean up Gotham.”) Plus, the superhero culture can give boys standards they can’t live up to—the exaggerated muscles, the quest to be the strongest, always being able to rescue other people. I know this isn’t what I want the boys to learn about being masculine—that showing you’re tough means hitting someone, that it’s your job to rescue someone else.
I can understand these arguments and rationalize with anyone who decides not to buy their child superhero merchandise. I would never specifically buy a daughter a Barbie costume or something similar. But I would buy a Wonder Woman costume. Maybe I should be more worried? Maybe I should be afraid I’m socializing my kids for violence. I’m sure there are kids out there more affected. I just don’t see it in my own kids.
Mostly, they just fly around the room, off tables and chairs. They chase each other and go after ‘bad guys,’ which might be a stuffed tiger or crocodile. They play fight, like most boys do. When Superman “throws” Batman to the ground with WWF flare, and he lies there for a few seconds, Superman asks, “Are you okay, Batman?” He says, “Yeah,” and they jump up and “fight” again. This time Superman falls with all the drama of a telenovela fainting scene, and Batman asks, “Are you okay, Superman?” It’s obvious that even superheroes need good manners.
Maybe I’m not that worried because besides their occasional “play fighting” they also have baby dolls they named Christina after their nanny’s niece. They carry her around and feed her and sometimes tuck her into bed. They tell me, “Mama, let’s snuggle.” They also give each other random hugs and kisses, comment that some characters on Arthur are “So mean!” and sing “Estrellita, ¿Dónde Estás?” when they see the first star in the sky at night.
Luckily, a few days after we lost the cape, Miguel found it—hidden suspiciously in the Boulevard Wheat box that holds all our winter hats and gloves. Life returned to normal. What’s lost is found and returned to its rightful owner—who can now fly around the room again.
What have you ever lost? Did you find it?